A recent research article, posted by The Postpartum Stress Center on Facebook, looks into the relationship between postpartum depression and breastfeeding.
The findings? Women who breastfeed are less likely to experience postpartum depression.
Here’s what The Postpartum Stress Center had to say about the study on Facebook:
“Uh-oh. Here we go… research shows reciprocal relationship between PPD and breastfeeding. Women who breastfeed were more likely to have PPD and women with PPD were less likely to breastfeed. Now, that being said – this is NOT what I see in my clinical practice. In fact, we see more evidence of women feeling BETTER when they stop breastfeeding. For a number of reasons that vary from woman to woman. This is why it continues to be important that we read the studies, but not jump to conclusions that may not relate to each individual woman.”
Here’s my reaction:
- Small study – only 137 women
- Mentions employed mothers who were formula feeding but the abstract makes no mention of employed breastfeeding/pumping mothers.
As a blogger focused primarily on Postpartum Mood Disorders and emotional health for moms, this study raises my hackles.
I’ve blogged about the whole breastfeeding v. not-breastfeeding thing during a Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorder thing before – several times- and each time, I conclude the same thing.
YOU have to do what is BEST FOR YOU. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says, it doesn’t matter what the research says, it doesn’t matter what is best for baby food-wise. What matters here, the most, is that you are addressing your needs, healing, and doing so in a manner which alleviates the most stress and anxiety for you.
Your motherhood journey is just that – yours.
The only thing which matters is that you, your baby, and your family, are thriving. If your path includes breastfeeding, great. If it doesn’t, that’s great too. When you struggle with a mental illness, your emotional health absolutely comes before everything else –at least in my book it does.
If you wanted to breastfeed but find it’s too stressful because of your Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorder, talk it over with your care-provider. Let them help you make your decision but don’t let them pressure you into continuing simply because the research claims breastfeeding is “protective” against PPD. Guess what? You’re already struggling. So unless breastfeeding is the ONE thing to which you’re clinging and the ONE thing which helps you heal, helps you feel like you matter, it’s OKAY to stop.
It’s okay to use formula.
Frankly, it’s sad we have to give ourselves permission not to breastfeed in this day and age. Moms use formula for a variety of reasons –as long as baby is growing, healthy, happy, and loved, it shouldn’t matter what form of nutrition is used.
So go. Do what feels best for you, for your family, and for your sanity –and don’t let anyone judge you for it.
In a new study appearing in the Journal of Pediatrics, researchers discovered a tie between Postpartum Depression and domestic violence. The study, Postpartum Depression and Intimate Partner Violence in Urban Mothers: Co-Occurrence and Child Healthcare Utilization, focused on urban mothers and screened for both Postpartum Depression and domestic violence during pediatric visits for children.
Of those screening positive for Postpartum Depression, 7% also screened positive for “intimate partner violence” according to the researchers. Also according to the study, 60% of those who screened positive for intimate partner violence also screened positive for Postpartum Depression. an interesting side note is that mothers screening positive for Postpartum Depression in this study were more likely to take their children to the Emergency room. Perhaps this is related to the higher level of anxiety and worry we experience during a Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorder.
The most important thing to keep in mind as a result of this study is that the researchers did not definitively determine cause/correlation between Postpartum Depression and intimate partner violence. When you’re in an abusive relationship, it can be difficult to leave for many reasons. It may cause depression or you may “allow” the abuse for longer if you are already depressed. It’s a very fine and exhausting line on which to find yourself teetering.
There is always help and hope available though.
For those with Postpartum Depression, visit Postpartum Support International’s website to find a coordinator near you.Or call the warmline at 1-800-944-4PPD.
If you’re in an abusive relationship, you can find help throughout the United States through The Hotline.
You’re not alone, there is help, and there is hope.
From time to time, I’m contacted by Graduate students and researchers asking me to share their work in the realm of Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders.
If you have given birth within the past two years and feel up to completely a relatively painless survey (I’m told 10 minutes or less), I know the researcher would really appreciate it. She’s part of a class project at Emory University in Atlanta.
A quick note from the grad student: “All information is anonymous and will be kept confidentially. We really appreciate your help in learning more about postpartum.”
Thank you for sharing your experience!
(Also – please pass this on to anyone you think may be willing to also complete the survey or knows someone who would be willing to do so!)
All across the globe, there are Researchers dedicating their lives to exploring all aspects of Postpartum Mood Disorders. Many of these researchers work in clinics, some are purely academic, and others review the research of others and present a compilation to conclude results.
Clinicians (for our purposes here) are trained in a variety of professions from therapists to psychiatrists to psychologists. These are the professionals on the front line. Some may be trained specifically in Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders while others may be largely unware of the nuances of these conditions.
Medical Professionals often see Postpartum Women prior to a Clinician is involved. These are General Pracitioners, Family Practice doctors, Pediatricians, Obstetricians, Midwives in some areas, ER doctors, nurses, etc. These professionals again, may or may not have additional specific training in Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders yet it is highly unlikely they are familiar at all with the nuances involved.
Peer Support Advocates are in the trenches. These may be made up of survivors, passionate and informed Clinicians, nurses, pediatricians, IBCLC’s, doulas, and a number of other people various walks of life. They become Peer Support Advocates for various reasons but largely due to personal experience from either a lived experience or the experience of a loved one.
Struggling Patients are in the thick of a Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorder, often navigating the system for the very first time. Many of them have never had a mental illness before giving birth or pregnancy. They are not familiar with their rights, the issue of medication, diagnosis, follow-through, or where to turn for help. They are filled with guilt, shame, and fear. These families and patients are often afraid to speak up and reach out for help. But their voices are increasing. Yet they are still echoing into an empty cavern as they scream out for the help they so desperately need.
Peer Support Advocates often are the first to hear the cry of the struggling patients. We work with them to find knowledgeable support in their locale. While the possibility of connecting these patients with knowledgeable or compassionate care is increasing, often times, we find ourselves up against a brick wall riddled with barriers to treatment. The biggest barrier is lack of knowledgeable local referrals. Primary referral in many areas is often to an uninformed or untrained Medical Professional.
An uninformed Medical Professional may do more harm than good with a Postpartum patient. He or she may erroneously take the DSM guidelines to heart, refusing to acknowledge a Postpartum Mood Disorder if the patient had her baby more than four weeks prior to presenting with symptoms. Nevermind that the APA itself admonishes the usage of the DSM in such a manner. If the non-mental health trained Medical Professional is informed, then the patient may find herself ushered higher up the ladder into the office of a professional Clinician trained to deal with psychiatric illness and disorders.
Clinicians are not always trained in Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. Therefore, it’s important for the patient to know what questions to ask when making an appointment with a specialist in the psychiatric field when seeking help for a PMAD. Questions like “Have you been trained in Perinatal Mood Disorders?” or “By whom have you been trained?” or “How long has it been since you were trained?” or “What is your approach to treating PMADs?” are all excellent questions someone who has been trained in Perinatal Mood Disorders would be comfortable in answering. A good clinician will answer honestly that he/she has not been trained but is willing to learn. He/She should offer her viewpoint on treatment and not force you into accepting their way or the highway. A good (and informed) clinician will also keep up with the latest research regarding PMADs.
Researchers are often not in the field with patients. On rare occasion they are clinicians themselves. Many are academic researchers. These researchers study everything from epidmeology to treatment to type of Perintal Mood Disorder, to risk factors, to contributing factors, birth trauma, etc. The issue with Researchers comes in when their research is manipulated, funded by Pharmaceutical companies, involves retro-data, a small data group, or a limited field in which some factors are not viable simply because the size of the group or source of the group is inherently flawed or for some other various reason. This is not to say that all research should be thrown out the window. It shouldn’t be at all. BUT it is important to be able to distill the research with a keen eye and apply some common sense to the outcome.
This is where Clinicians, Medical Professionals, and Peer Suppport Advocates come into play. Anyone trained or in contact with experts in the field of Perinatal Mood Disorders will be able to help you recover. Even those not well-trained but well-meaning and open-minded will be able to help you. If your Clinician, Medical Professional and Peer Support Advocate is willing to help formulate (or find) help which fits your personal lifestyle and belief system, your chances of recovery increase. But if you have a Clinician, Medical Professional or Peer Support Advocate who is closed off to certain avenues of treatment due to a certain aspect of your own life such as breastfeeding, other children, pregnancy, etc, then you may want to continue looking for help elsewhere.
In light of the new guidelines in the DSM-5 which will keep the Postpartun Depression Identifier at 4 weeks, we need to work to get those involved in care for Postpartum Women struggling with disorders talking with each other instead of at each other or indirectly with each other via research, peer support survivors, and trainers, etc. But how do we do this?
How do we get the researcher to share with the Clinician their goals, interests, and conclusions? How do we then get the Clincian to spark interest in the Medical non-specialist Practioner to learn about Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders? Then how do we plug in the Peer Advocate and the patient? How do we open the discussion between Professional, Peer Advocate, and patient? How do we keep the communication going once it’s started? What will it take? How many more tragedies must we endure before everyone involved is ready to talk and on the same page?
Enough is enough. We need to stop talking at each other, around each other, to each other and instead talk WITH each other. Until we do, innocent women, children, and families will continue to struggle, suffer, and possibly even die. I am not willing to let that happen. Are you?
Speak up. Say something. EVERY Word makes a difference. Every.Word.
I had a friend of mine contact me today asking if I’d spread the word she’s in need of some research about Postpartum Depression & Domestic Violence victims for a current project. She is specifically “looking for research that demonstrates victims of domestic violence are at a greater risk of developing perinatal depression and also for research that demonstrates a history of sexual assault being a risk factor.”
Please direct any links, research, further questions you have to email@example.com.
Thanks wonderful readers!