Background: Poor maternal sensitivity leads to insecure infant attachment, and has been associated with negative cognitive consequences later in life. Maternal sensitivity is an indicator of the interactions between mothers and infants characterized by mutual and concurrent interchanges. The aim of the study is to review and synthesize all published studies that examine the potential effect of breastfeeding on maternal sensitivity during the first year of life.
Materials and Methods: Searches were conducted using the following databases: Medline (via PubMed), CINAHL, and SCOPUS. Inclusion criteria were as follows: published in English, and no limitation on publication date. Articles were excluded if they did not focus on the main concepts of this review, maternal sensitivity, if they focused on the physiological aspects of breastfeeding or if they included children breastfed after one year of age.
Results: Nineteen out of 60 articles met the inclusion criteria. All of the studies that were identified for this review were quantitative. Four categories emerged from these studies: Potential effects of breastfeeding on maternal sensitivity; Potential effects of breastfeeding-related environmenton maternal sensitivity; Potential effects of infant’s health on maternal sensitivity, and No potential effect of breastfeeding on maternal sensitivity.
Conclusion: There is strong evidence that a relationship exists between breastfeeding and maternal sensitivity. However, that relationship is not well-defined .Identification of breastfeeding as a factor to enhance maternal sensitivity for newly and multi-children mothers will or may assist health care providers and social workers to help mothers improve their interactions with their infants to an optimal level.