Newborn right-holding is related to depressive symptoms in bottle-feeding mothers but not in breastfeeding mothers

Abstract : This study examines the relationships between infant holding preferences and maternal depression according to the newborn feeding mode. Links between depression and infant holding biases have been observed in mothers [Vauclair, J., Scola, C. (in press). Dépression, alexithymie et latéralisation dans la façon de porter un nouveau-né [Infant holding biases in relation to depression, alexithymia and laterality]. Annales Médico-psychologiques; Weatherill, R. P., Almerigi, J. B., Levendosky, A. A., Bogat, G. A., von Eye, A., & Harris, L. J. (2004). Is maternal depression related to side of infant holding? International Journal of Behavioral Development, 28, 421-427] but the fact that breastfeeding has never been studied in relation to these two factors is surprising as breastfeeding has some influence on depression (e.g., [Mezzacappa, E. S., Guethlein, W., Vaz, N., & Bagiella, E. (2000). A preliminary study of breast-feeding and maternal symptomatology. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 22, 71-79]) and must also affect holding biases. Mothers who just gave birth (N = 100) were tested few days after delivery. Measures of handedness, infant holding-side preferences , and level of depressive symptoms expressed by mothers (assessed with the CES-D scale) were collected via questionnaires. Asymmetries in emotional perception were assessed via a Chimeric Figure Task and a Dichotic Listening Task. Results showed that breastfeeding (1) reduced left-side bias for holding newborns and (2) was associated with lowest levels of depressive symptoms. Moreover, holding biases were related to maternal depression in bottle-feeding but not in breastfeeding mothers, namely that holding on the right-side while bottle-feeding was associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms. These results were not due to hemispheric specialization as auditory and visual asymmetries were similar between breastfeeding and bottle-feeding mothers. The discussion emphasizes the striking role of the early mother/child relationship's establishment on infant holding biases.
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Julien Donnot, Jacques Vauclair, Vincent Bréjard. Newborn right-holding is related to depressive symptoms in bottle-feeding mothers but not in breastfeeding mothers. Infant Behavior and Development, Elsevier, 2007, ⟨10.1016/j.infbeh.2007.12.013⟩. ⟨hal-02087555⟩

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