Just Talkin’ Tuesday: Breastfeeding & PPD – What Advice Would You Give?


justtalkingtuesdaybuttonBreastfeeding is such a rocky road for those of us who struggle with a Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorder, isn’t it?

We worry if it’s not going right. We worry about being put on meds. We worry if our babies are getting enough, we worry what people will think if we stop, we measure, we pump, we wonder about working, supply, the additional frustration of it all can really wear us down. Sure, a lot of our concern is the same as a mom who isn’t struggling with a Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorder but we also have to worry about how it’s affecting our PMAD or how it will affect baby if we decide to take meds.

I’ve been invited to participate in a telesummit with an organization focusing on encouraging breastfeeding mothers to take care of themselves properly. Of course they want to encourage and foster the breastfeeding relationship but you and I both know that sometimes, it doesn’t work out when a PMAD hops aboard the Motherhood train. Before agreeing to participate, I asked if they would be open to discussing the possibility that breastfeeding doesn’t go well if a PMAD shows up. They were very open to it, happily.

This is where you come in – of course I can share my own experiences and talk about how I know it’s gone for others in the past, but I’d really like to have the community chime in with their tales and share what worked for them, what didn’t work for them, and how to deal with the issues that crop up when it doesn’t work (because that guilt is like no other!) well.

Breastfeeding is one of two things when you have a PMAD, the one thing that’s going right, or the one thing that’s really exacerbating the issues at hand. I always advise mothers to do what’s best for THEM and their situation – and above all else, put their mental well-being ahead of themselves.

If you have any practical tips, ideas, stories, etc, to share, please post them in the comments. Tips on how to talk with your partner, doctor, a lactation consultant, etc, would be particularly welcome.

Can’t wait to hear from y’all!

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3 thoughts on “Just Talkin’ Tuesday: Breastfeeding & PPD – What Advice Would You Give?

  1. I developed antenatal depression during my first pregnancy, which ended in miscarriage at 17 weeks. It deepened after my second pregnancy, which ended in miscarriage at 14 weeks, and the anxiety was overwhelming when I was pregnant with my now two-year-old. We knew I was at risk for PPD, and I saw my psychiatrist regularly during and after that pregnancy. I took antidepressants while I was pregnant, at the lowest dose on which I could still function, and we bumped them up after I gave birth (by unplanned c-section).

    Even still, I was committed to breastfeeding. But my milk was slow to come in and my son was jaundiced, so we had to supplement. And nipple confusion is REAL. He wasn’t having it when I tried to nurse. We tried HARD. Lots of tears (his and mine). My husband and mom offered lots of encourange, but in my sleep-deprived, anxious mind, I heard criticism. My supply was decreasing the more stressed I grew.

    Ultimately my son was breastfed for a year…from a bottle. From the time he was four weeks old, I pumped exclusively, and only stopped when I had enough in the freezer to take him to his first birthday. It was hard work, and I’m proud of what we accomplished together, so why do I still feel like I have to justify the ‘decision’ not to feed him AT my breast?

    The PPD set in when he was four months old, and I am proud (now) of the way we responded. Doctor, adjust meds, frequest sessions with my therapist, and telling people so they could watch out for me. Breastfeeding was one of the ways I felt I had failed.

    This was absolutely the best way for me to feed my child, even if it wasn’t what I thought was my ideal. There isn’t much support, though, for exclusively pumping, nor did any of my doctors suggest it as an option. Nurse (didn’t work) or formula (hoped to avoid). And several times people asked if the pumping was causing stress and would my depression get better if I stopped. I maintain it would have been worse, because I would have felt like even more of a failure.

    It was a lactation consultant who had the best message. I was a good mom by feeding my baby, however I could. He didn’t care in what vessel his milk came. THAT is the message that moms need to hear.

    • I agree completely with your last two sentences:

      “I was a good mom by feeding my baby, however I could. He didn’t care in what vessel his milk came. THAT is the message that moms need to hear.”

      AMEN.

  2. I’m so glad that they’re open to that angle as well. I tried very hard to BF my son. During the 8 weeks that we tried, I eliminated various things from my diet and nothing that I did seemed to help him. We could tell he was in pain from whatever was in my milk. He was very colicky, which certainly did not help my PMAD situation. Out of exasperation one night, we finally opened a formula sample we’d received and tried it. He was like an entirely different baby. We switched to formula and he was perfectly fine after that. I felt like a complete failure, and fielded some comments about how BFing was best and I was messing up. Again, did NOT help my situation!

    This time around with baby number two, I’ve decided that one of the things I need to do to protect my mental health is to abstain from BFing. The physical and emotional demands of it were extremely trying on me, and I don’t want to end up failing again. This was a very, very difficult decision to make; but ultimately I feel like it’s best for my family this time around.

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