Breastfeeding Makes All the Difference: Breastfeeding’s Role in Overcoming Adversity

Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PhD, IBCLC, FAPA

We do not live in a perfect world. Many new mothers have experienced abuse and adversity as children. They want to be good mothers, but they often wonder whether they will perpetuate the cycle of violence that they have experienced. They may also have a history of depression, anxiety, or PTSD, and wonder whether these conditions have harmed their children. Fortunately, we can offer new mothers hope. Recent studies have found that breastfeeding helps mothers mother—even when there is a history of abuse. It not about the milk; it’s the physical act of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding improves maternal sleep, lowers the risk of depression, lessens anger and irritability, and even attenuates the negative effects of past sexual assault. Breastfeeding offers mothers a chance to do things differently. When it comes to overcoming adversity and stopping the intergenerational cycle of violence, breastfeeding makes all the difference.

Learning Objectives:
I. Understand breastfeeding’s role in protecting infants from the harmful effects of maternal depression.
II. Describe the importance of maternal responsivity to long-term health for the baby.
III. Describe the role of breastfeeding in lessening the impact of the mother’s previous sexual assault.

Contact Hour:

One(1) ICEA Contact Hour; CERPS pending