The breast versus bottle fight has taken a turn, now that an evolutionary scientist has gotten involved. Most of the debate thus far has focused on the physical benefits of breastfeeding, both to mama and baby.
The relatively small study–50 women–was performed with this in mind:
In the past, when women did not breastfeed, what was the reason? Often: Infant death. How might that carry over to affect bottle-feeding women now?
The mothers of the 4-6-week-olds were surveyed for postpartum depression. Factors such as age, socioeconomic status, relationship status, and education did not elevate a woman’s risk for the so-called “baby blues”.
But whether a woman breastfed or bottle-fed their infant did. Breastfeeding mamas were less likely to have postpartum depression.
Evolutionary psychologist Gordon G. Gallup says that inherently, through hundreds of thousands of years of conditioning, a mother may relate not breastfeeding to actually losing that infant. After all, feeding infant formula is relatively new; only since the Victorian period. And we don’t exactly have data on the postpartum rate for women who sent their children to wet nurses. More research is clearly needed.
Interestingly, the team of researchers say that the practice of removing infants to the hospital nursery may have a similar effect on mamas.
It may not, after all, be the lactivists that cause a bottle-feeder guilt. It may simply be biology.