The fMRI-based findings suggest that breastfeeding and factors associated with breastfeeding, such has high levels of hormones (oxytocin, prolactin), stress, and culture may all play an important role for mothers' brain activity and parenting behaviours during the early postpartum period. The research shows that up to three or four months after delivery some of the brain regions originally observed at one month postpartum (amygdala, putamen, globus pallidus, and superior frontal gyrus) continued to activate and were correlated with maternal, sensitive behavior among the same group of mothers.
The findings highlight the dramatic relationship between breastfeeding, brain activity and parenting behaviours during the early postpartum period. Lead researcher Dr. Pilyoung Kim, "It is important for loved ones to support mothers and help them cope with challenges related to breastfeeding and parenting during this period. Mothers unable to breastfeed may benefit from extra encouragement to engage in sensitive, caring interactions with baby."