Maternal depression and breastfeeding in home visitation

Francesca A. Scheiber, Lisa S. Segre, Michael W. O'Hara, Darby Taylor, Rebecca L. Brock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Home visitation is a popular mechanism for supporting parents and their young children. Breastfeeding is often promoted by home visitors due to its health benefits. However, maternal depression may interfere with breastfeeding. Thus, home visitors may be attempting to encourage health-promoting behaviors like breastfeeding, but maternal depression may interfere with engagement in those behaviors. Method: The data for this study were provided by the Des Moines Healthy Start and the Empowerment Family Support Project (DMHSP). We analyzed the relation between depression and breastfeeding for 364 women. Results: First, rates of elevated depression scores in this sample of women (8.7%-21.4% of women) were lower than rates of elevated depression scores reported in other studies of women enrolled in home visitation (30%–50% of women). Second, rates of breastfeeding at 3 months postpartum in this sample (56% of women) were higher than rates of breastfeeding reported in the general population (51% of women). Third, Non-Hispanic White women were significantly less likely to breastfeed compared to other racial groups. Fourth, average Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) scores during the first 3 months postpartum, but not during pregnancy, were predictive of likelihood to breastfeed at 3 months postpartum, even after accounting for demographic characteristics. Conclusion: Addressing maternal depression during the early postpartum period may increase the likelihood of engaging in breastfeeding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105490
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Breastfeeding
  • Home visitation
  • Maternal depression
  • Parenting practices
  • Postpartum depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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