Does Breastfeeding Help With Decreasing Mental Health Risks?

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If you have a family history of mental illness, you may be concerned about passing this condition on to your child. Maybe you want to familiarize yourself with mental illnesses and what they look like.

There is good news for expecting mothers who plan to breastfeed. In addition to the overall health benefits of breastfeeding, recent studies have shown that breastfeeding can actually help lower the risk of mental illness in children. Learn more:

3 Ways Breastfeeding Helps With Decreasing Mental Health Risks in Children


Breastfeeding creates a special bond immediately after birth. This bond and nurturing experience sets a new baby up for their future. Children who are comfortable in their environment are generally more stable than those who are unsure of themselves. Many researchers feel this bond created by breastfeeding for more than six months may contribute to the lower risk of mental illness.

While you are nursing your child, you are holding them closely and likely have some type of skin to skin contact. This closeness teaches the child that they are safe and not alone. Breast milk should be fed at the breast as often as possible to give your child the maximum benefits.

Nutritional Value

A mother’s milk is specifically designed to meet the needs of her child. The milk changes over time as the needs change. For example, if the child has a cold, your milk will change to meet the nutritional needs of the sick child. Once the child is feeling better, your milk will return to its normal nutritional content. Breast milk also changes as your child grows. You may begin to make more milk as the child demands more and that milk may contain more vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fats.

Mother’s Breastfeeding For Mental Health and Mental Illness Prevention

Mother’s who suffer from symptoms of mental health disorders usually notice a decrease in their symptoms while nursing their children. This is because breastfeeding releases chemicals in the brain that cause a relaxed and happy feeling. This may also affect the mental health of the child as they are not being raised in an unstable home. Many mothers who have a history of depression may suffer from Postpartum Depression if they are forced to discontinue breastfeeding before they are ready.

While breastfeeding alone does not prevent all mental health disorders in children, the study shows that a large number of breastfed babies do not suffer from common genetic mental health disorders. When compared to their formula fed counterparts, it is clear that breastfeeding has many benefits.

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