You have probably heard so much about the benefits of breastfeeding for
your baby and you.
For some, breastfeeding brings you joy but for others it's a struggle and
full of anguish and stress.
Today we will talk about breastfeeding and postpartum depression
Studies show that women who breastfeed their infants reduced their risk of
developing PPD with the effects lasting for 4 months after.
How? Let’s find out!
Oxytocin! Remember that this is also known as the
“love hormone” which helps your milk let down. Every time
you nurse, you release more oxytocin. Oxytocin helps with
relaxation and trust. This hormone has also been
shown to decrease stress and anxiety levels when
released into certain parts of the brain
Prolactin is a hormone that helps with milk
production and is also increased with nursing. This
“mothering” hormone will give deep feelings of
attachment, calm, and rushes of contentment or euphoria in
addition to producing more milk!
Prolactin is thought to reduce the risk of postpartum depression
inhibiting the HPA axis which produces cortisol in times of
Although breastfeeding may protect against having postpartum depression for
For others, the pressure, struggles and lack of sleep
that comes with breastfeeding may be a stressor that can lead to
postpartum depression and anxiety.
A study looked at women without depression during pregnancy to see their
intention to breastfeed. They found that postpartum depression and anxiety
was increased in women who wanted to breastfeed and then did not
go on to do so, compared to women who wanted to breastfeed and
Basically, your mental health may be affected by these feelings of
either success or failure with your plans.
Of course, managing the expectation of the breastfeeding process is a first
Many women expect breastfeeding will be easy because it is
They are unaware of the challenges and left blindsided
when these come up postpartum .
The reality is that breast feeding does not come
naturally. Establishing breastfeeding takes time and practice! It
requires a “training period” for both you and your baby.
Having a coach (AKA lactation consultant) can help you
with the challenges but also reframe your expectations!
However, even with the support of a lactation consultant
or healthcare provider, some women may continue to struggle with
breastfeeding. It may leave you feeling liked you failed
or inadequate as a mother.
Sometimes the best thing for your baby is to
Your mental health is a priority and if breastfeeding is impacting your
mental health you should stop!
Remember that postpartum depression and anxiety can not only
impact you but also your baby and your family.
Don't feel guilty or ashamed that you stopped
breastfeeding! You may need to do that FOR your baby!
True! Dysphoric milk ejection was described as a
spectrum where women may experience sadness, anxiety or rage while
breastfeeding. It has been reported to last for a few weeks to a year.
This may be due to the decrease in dopamine levels due to prolactin. The
decrease in dopamine can bring on the symptoms for some women.
If you are experiencing this talk to a healthcare provider or lactation
True! Weaning causes changes in your hormone levels: as
oxytocin and prolactin drop, your estrogen levels increase. These changes
can impact your mental health especially if your body is sensitive
to hormonal changes!
Breastfeeding can be protective for postpartum depression and
anxiety for some women but not for all.
Yes, breast is best but NOT if it impacts your mental
Your mental health is critical for your and your baby’s health.
You are NOT a failure if you decide to stop
breastfeeding. You are choosing to support your baby with a
mentally healthy mom!
Reach out to your healthcare provider or a lactation counselor or therapist
if you need support in lactation or may have postpartum depression /
Contact our MaternalWell lactation counselors and pregnancy/postpartum
therapists for consultation if needed. As always, use our text support for
any general questions.