Postpartum Depression

Mothers with postpartum depression can usually continue to breastfeed. Healthcare providers should work with mothers to ensure they receive appropriate treatment, support, and medications that are safe to use while breastfeeding.

Is there an association between breastfeeding and postpartum depression?

Depressed mother holding her sleeping infant.

There is insufficient evidence on whether breastfeeding is associated with postpartum depression. In particular, the direction of the relationship between breastfeeding and higher or lower rates of depression is unclear. According to a 2018 systematic review by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)External, “Elucidating the relationship between breastfeeding and postpartum depression is challenging, because women with depression may have difficulty initiating and sustaining breastfeeding, and women who experience breastfeeding difficulties may develop depression” (p. 107).

Are antidepressant medications safe to take while breastfeeding?

Maybe. Although many medications do pass into breast milk, most have little or no effect on milk supply or on infant well-being. When discussing medications it is important for the healthcare provider to ask a mother about whether she is breastfeeding. Together they can decide which medications are right for her and safe to use while breastfeeding.

Can a mother experiencing postpartum depression continue to breastfeed?

Usually. While some mothers experience positive feelings from breastfeeding, others may not. Healthcare providers can work with mothers to address depression in a timely manner and to help them reach their breastfeeding goals. Healthcare providers can talk to mothers about treatment options for depression including medications and non-pharmacological options (e.g., individual or group therapy) and assist mothers in accessing professional breastfeeding support as needed.