Prior studies have found that close mother-child sleep proximity helps increase rates of breastfeeding, and breastfeeding itself is linked to better maternal and infant health. In this study, we examine whether breastfeeding and infant bed-sharing are related to daily rhythms of the stress-responsive hormone cortisol. We found that bed-sharing was related to flatter diurnal cortisol slopes, and there was a marginal effect for breastfeeding to predict steeper cortisol slopes. Furthermore, mothers who breastfeed but do not bed-share had the steepest diurnal cortisol slopes, whereas mothers who bed-shared and did not breastfeed had the flattest slopes (P <.05). These results were significant after controlling for subjective sleep quality, perceived stress, depression, socioeconomic status, race, and maternal age. Findings from this study indicate that infant parenting choices recommended for infants (breastfeeding and separate sleep surfaces for babies) may also be associated with more optimal stress hormone profiles for mothers.
- postpartum health
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health