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UC study measures new mums’ mental health

Marcus Butler

28 April 2015: A University of Canberra study is investigating the relationship between infant feeding, maternal mental health and bonding.

Master of Clinical Psychology student Cari Macleod hopes her research will help shed some light on mothers' experiences of infant feeding and their mental health, with the aim of providing more support to new mums during the first six months following the birth of their baby.

"Empirical research is thin on the ground about the relative impact of different feeding methods on bonding and I hope to add some valuable results to this space," Ms Macleod said.

"Currently, it's common for health carers to promote breastfeeding for its nutritional benefits to babies, but there are also claims about it encouraging greater bonding between mum and baby," she said.

"Some mothers think that breastfeeding is crucial when it comes to bonding and end up feeling guilty or ashamed if they can't breastfeed for whatever reason."

Ms Macleod hopes her research will give mums and health care providers a better picture of the many varied ways a mother can bond with her baby.

"My research will help better understand which factors which might be important for establishing a bond, including a mother's mental well-being, their perceptions of baby's temperament and whether mums feel supported by others in their lives," she added.

Ms Macleod is looking for mothers whose youngest child is aged between three to six months from across Australia, to take part in the study.