Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Breastfeeding with Postpartum Depression

A few weeks ago I posted some thoughts on recent findings about Maternal Mental Illness.

One thing to think about and just prepare for, is your breastfeeding relationship if you do get Postpartum Depression or one of the other Maternal Mental Illnesses after you have baby.

La Leche League has some insight in their book "The Womanly Art of Bre
astfeeding". The following is an excerpt:

Postpartum Depression

Many mothers experience a day or so of "baby blues" in the first week postpartum. They suddenly find themselves crying for no apparent reason, wondering how they can feel so sad when they're supposed to feel so happy. The great changes and responsibilities that come with a new baby may be the source of the sudden ups and downs, and the emotions are magnified by the shifting postpartum hormones. For most women this period of intense feeling passes quickly, but for others, anxiety, sadness, mood swings, and other symptoms persist for weeks or even reappear months after giving birth. This is no longer "baby blues"; this is postpartum depression.

Depression is not something you can just "snap out of," though there may be people who suggest that a mother should do just that. Mild depression may lift with time, especially if a mother makes a disciplined effort to take car of herself. She should eat nutritious meals and snacks, take a daily walk or try some other form of exercise, get help with household tasks, and sleep when the baby sleeps. Most importantly, she should find other women with babies to talk with, friends who can reassure her that she is doing a good job and that she is not alone in her feelings. A La Leche League Group can be a valuable source of support for a mother struggling with postpartum adjustments.

When a mother is anxious about her ability to care for her baby, or is just plain feeling "down," breastfeeding may become the focus of her worries. She may find it hard to trust that her body will make enough milk for her baby, or she may begin to feel that breastfeeding itself is the cause of her unhappiness. While difficulties with nursing can certainly be upsetting, many mothers find that getting some assistance in order to resolve the breastfeeding problems is a more positive course of action than deciding to wean. Ultimately, both mother and baby benefit. It's also important to remember that most of the challenges experienced by new mothers will still be there, even if the baby is switched to formula.

Sometimes postpartum depression needs the attention of a professional, a counselor or therapist, or a doctor. Be sure to look for someone who is supportive of breastfeeding and understands its importance to both mother and baby. Studies have shown that breastfeeding itself does not contribute to postpartum depression.

Depression is often treated with medication, and there may be some concerns about whether a particular drug is safe for the baby. This is a time to consider carefully the mother's need for the drug, the possible alternatives, and the latest information available about the medication. A mother who is seriously depressed may want to include her husband or a friend in these discussions with the doctor, to help make clear her desire to avoid weaning. Ending the breastfeeding relationship can be very difficult for a mother emotionally and sudden weaning may cause hormonal changes that intensify a mother's depression. Any decisions about how to treat postpartum depression should take this into account.

If you would like to plug into a breastfeeding support group, come on down to Educated Mommy this coming Thursday at 6:30 pm! We are here to help you!


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