Postpartum Mental Health and the Need for Education

Recent findings from an Aeroflow Breastpumps survey highlight breastfeeding's impact on postpartum mental health and the need for education. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommend exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods for up to 2 years of age or older. However, significant barriers remain in place that prevent women who are able and willing to breastfeed from achieving their goals – specifically those around their mental health. 

To specifically understand how breastfeeding impacts postpartum mental health and where resources are needed, Aeroflow Breastpumps surveyed 508 mothers who have had children within the past year, with 409 completed responses. The findings suggest that broadened access to mental health services would enable moms across the country to more easily meet and exceed their breastfeeding goals.

Postpartum Care and Mental Health

  • About 90% of respondents shared they experienced feelings of anxiety, sadness, stress or a low mood after giving birth, with 67% saying that breastfeeding or making sure their baby was fed contributes to their stress and anxiety. 
  • More than half (53%) of new mothers experienced anxiety after weaning.
  • 70% of new moms shared they have also had to skip out on activities due to their postpartum depression. 
  • 81% of new mothers stated that anxious thoughts and excessive worry kept them from sleeping while postpartum 

Postpartum Recovery and Lifestyle Impacts

  • 63% of respondents felt they needed assistance to properly breastfeed, and 67% admitted to skipping out on activities due to not having the tools or resources necessary to breastfeed in public.
  • 70% of new moms shared they have also had to skip out on activities due to their postpartum depression. 

Need for Postpartum Care and Breastfeeding Educational Resources

  • 80% of mothers expressed interest in receiving education around the resources and tools available to help their mental health after giving birth. 
  • More than 90% feel that education around what mothers should expect with their postpartum mental health needs to be improved.
  • Despite the issues mothers faced while breastfeeding, about 30% still never received assistance from an IBCLC 

”Health insurance and care providers play a huge role in increasing access to critical breastfeeding resources that will help moms reach their breastfeeding goals and ensure their mental health is intact. At Aeroflow Breastpumps, we’ve recently partnered with Canopie to provide affordable, app-based mental health support for new mothers through insurance, and are continuing to expand our educational resources for new mothers” said Dr. Jessica Madden, Medical Director of Aeroflow Breastpumps. 

While the demand for increased access to breastfeeding support and mental health services is clear, further insights from the survey also conclude that barriers to access when it comes to location exist. More than half (57%) stated that their location interfered with their ability to receive care around breastfeeding and postpartum necessities, while 30% of mothers stated they were never able to get ahold of a lactation consultant when they were struggling. This reveals an immediate need for telehealth services so mothers have access to professional help at all times while breastfeeding.

Insights from Our Experts

Dr. Jessica Madden, MD, Medical Director of Aeroflow Breastpumps

“Postpartum already brings so many changes to a woman's body that can impact their mental health, and breastfeeding is just another aspect that can cause new moms to feel stress and anxiety. I commonly see moms experience different struggles that can make the breastfeeding experience stressful and frustrating, such as clogged milk ducts, trouble latching, low milk supply, establishing a feeding schedule and more. We need to provide mothers with more education and resources to ease their breastfeeding journey, which will ultimately result in better mental health outcomes.”

Anne Wanlund, Co-Founder & CEO of Canopie

“The results of this survey illustrate something we know as mothers and as professionals in this space: our mental health overlaps with every single experience of motherhood. This is doubly true with feeding - in fact, challenges and unmet expectations around feeding are some of the most reliable early warning signs that a new mom is struggling. Poor mental health can negatively impact our ability to feed - and sleep, because we are anxious about feeding. It’s a vicious cycle. We have seen very high uptake and engagement in Canopie’s mental health programming from Aeroflow moms, who are given trustworthy, evidence-based resources and a supportive environment that encourages them to take care of themselves.”

Nicole Peluso, IBCLC, CD, CAHPE, Aeroflow Healthcare Lactation

"Since its inception almost 40 years ago, U.S. lactation care has been a reactive practice - helping moms "fix" a breastfeeding problem, often weeks after baby was born. All that has changed in the last couple of years with Aeroflow's lactation program. Now moms regularly connect with IBCLCs in pregnancy. Our practice of IBCLCs has seen a significant reduction in patient stress and improvement in breastfeeding outcomes because we develop relationships with our patients in advance of baby's arrival. By being proactive, mom's mental health is protected and she is supported at every level to meet her breastfeeding and mental health goals. Unfortunately, not all insurances offer care by an IBCLC or they cap the amount of times a mom can reach out to an IBCLC. We know our model of integrated lactation and mental health care work. It is essential for the well-being of moms and babies that insurance companies take note of the results of this survey and that care is accessible to all breastfeeding families."

Additional Resources

At Aeroflow Breastpumps, our mission is to improve health outcomes for new and expectant mothers throughout their pregnancy, postpartum recovery, and breastfeeding journey by making it easy to receive the very best medical equipment, supplies, and resources for each unique stage of motherhood. Check out these relative readings for additional support!