Breast feeding while suffering with postpartum depression is challenging. Find out how to overcome breastfeeding while suffering with postpartum depression.
The early days of breastfeeding are some of the most challenging days of a breastfeeding journey. Endless nights of no sleep, sore breasts, and a complete hormonal shift are just some of the small sacrifices we face during our postpartum period. Your body no longer belongs to you. Your body is now the lifeline for this beautiful baby in front of you. This thought alone can cause some anxiety. Will I produce enough milk? What if I do something wrong?
The early postpartum days are known as the "baby blues". Luckily, many women prevail over "baby blues" once a routine is established. Others, may continue feeling depressed or anxious. When a mother faces an increased feeling of depression or anxiety, it may be due to a condition called Postpartum Depression (PPD). According to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), approximately 15% of women suffer with postpartum depression.
Breastfeeding while suffering with PPD can cause extreme range of emotions. Some mothers report extreme stress and anxiety when nursing their child, and others report that breastfeeding helps the maternal bond. Regardless of your experience with PPD and breastfeeding, you should never be ashamed of it. Postpartum depression is real! Postpartum depression while breastfeeding is real! You are not alone.
Postpartum depression hit me from day 1. I suffered with the thought of having to share my baby girl with the world. Not feeling her move and kick inside of me brought about the most gut wrenching reality. As excited as I was about starting motherhood, I couldn't find that overwhelming bond that everyone told me about. Of course, I loved her more than life itself, and my motherly instincts were there... but where was that bond I wanted and needed? Breastfeeding brought us that bond we needed. Through the outbursts and tears as I shed through the challenge, with a support system and amazing doctors (Oh, and I will admit to taking much needed medicine), we are able to continue breastfeeding.
If you think you may be suffering with PPD, you should see your doctor, and build a support team. Do not be afraid to discuss medication with your doctor if natural treatment is not enough. It is important to do what is best for you and your baby.
According to Mayoclinic.org, symptoms may include:
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
- Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Intense irritability and anger
- Fear that you're not a good mother
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Tips for a breastfeeding mother suffering with PPD:
- Seek professional advice.
Many women are reluctant to see their doctor, but this is the most important step in recovering. Make sure your doctor is pro-breastfeeding and get their opinion. They may suggest medication that you can take while breastfeeding (yes, you can take some antidepressants while breastfeeding). If you choose not to take medication, seek counseling from a therapist. Talking to a professional is important.
Find a pro breastfeeding helper.
Ask your spouse, a family member, a friend, or even a postpartum doula for help with daily activities, or to hold the baby while you take a break. Make sure this person is a breastfeeding support as well. It is important that your helper encourages you to nurse and helps with your breastfeeding schedule. Your breastfeeding schedule is crucial for your supply.
If your baby is latching properly, do not pump.
Pumping may cause extra stress and anxiety. If your baby is able to nurse and getting enough milk, do not worry about the stress of building a stash. Focus on one session at a time, and bond with your baby.
Consider bed sharing or co sleeping.
Bed sharing and co sleeping may help you get extra rest during the night. It may also make breastfeeding easier since you do not have to get out of the bed. You should do research and make sure you are practicing this safely.
Nap while baby naps.
The housework can wait. You need to make sure you are getting enough rest.
Find a support group.
Find a Le Leche League in your area and surround yourself with other breastfeeding women. Facebook groups are also an amazing tool for connecting with other women who have experienced similar situations.
- Shift work.
Rest is incredibly important for a mother suffering with PPD. Have your spouse or partner sleep with the baby in a separate room. When it is time for the baby to nurse (typically every 2 hours), have your spouse or partner bring the baby to you to nurse, burp the baby, and return to the other room to put the baby to sleep.
- Get daily fresh air.
A peaceful walk alone (if possible) can be relaxing. When life gets overwhelming, take a few minutes to regroup and relax.
- Do not feel guilty.
If you decide that you can not continue to breastfeed despite every effort to continue, DO NOT FEEL GUILTY. Breastfeeding is not ideal for everyone, and everyone experiences PPD and breastfeeding differently. The important thing is that your baby is taken care of!