Spectra Baby USA Press

Postpartum While Breastfeeding

by Jenn Foster, MA, IBCLC, RLC

You aren’t alone…don’t suffer in silence!
The prevalence of Postpartum Depression or Postnatal Depression has been documented in affecting an alarming 13-20% of women after the delivery of their baby. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding indicated that PPD affects a minimum of “13 percent of mothers” (Surgeon General, 2011, p.3).
The effects of PPD (Postpartum Depression) or PND (Postnatal Depression) are astounding and most commonly not understood or addressed by both the medical community or the expectant mother/family. Healthcare Providers (HCPs) are not well educated, equipped or informed to help women during the postpartum period outside of what the textbook and past experience has shown them. Postpartum depression, Prenatal depression, and Postpartum anxiety are closely related.

Does breastfeeding help?
Breastfeeding has historically been tied to the reduction of these symptoms (Fairlie, et. al., 2009, p.945) and even the U.S. Surgeon General indicated that due to the close bonding and psychological occurrences that happen during breastfeeding (including the release of Oxytocin) that “breastfeeding may help to lower the risk of postpartum depression, a serious condition” (Surgeon General, 2011, p.3). So, boob on Mommies!

How can I move forward, meet my personal breastfeeding goals, and be supported?
There needs to be more detection and awareness of depressive symptoms during pregnancy, supporting breastfeeding practices and knowledge of breastfeeding resources for those practitioners who can refer a mother/baby dyad. In the meantime, educate yourselves. This will help to better educate those around you, get the support you need and find a like-minded Healthcare Provider that can provide you guidance based on evidence-based information.
Find local support, whether online or in person through FB groups, mom to mom groups with baby and other such resources.

Can I breastfeed and get help for Postpartum Depression?
YES! Breastfeeding should be supported, whether at breast directly or expressed with a breast pump. The benefits of breastfeeding while dealing with any of these conditions indicated above is the degree of breastfeeding (exclusive, partial, token), support structure for the mother/baby dyad and education on what can be taken during the time of the mother’s symptoms being experienced.
There are many medications for depression, anxiety, and other conditions that are supported while breastfeeding. This includes whether baby is at breast or receiving your pumped mother’s milk. The find the most accurate information on how a specific medication, supplement or over the counter substance would affect you, your baby and/or milk supply you should consult a specialist. The Infant Risk Center is a great option: www.infantrisk.org

Leave us a comment letting us know your thoughts and stories.  We would love to learn how you’ve gotten through this period of life.

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