Even under ideal circumstances, giving birth to and looking after a new life is challenging. Some tears and emotional days are normal following the birth of a new baby, but when you find yourself feeling depressed for days at a time, you need to talk to your doctor or midwife. Sometimes all you may need is a shoulder to cry on, a hearing ear or a few hours alone.
80% of mothers go through some anxiety and depression after
pregnancy. Most mothers don’t realize that they are depressed. Mothers that do not breastfeed, or who are separated from their babies after birth are usually at a higher risk of developing post
The "baby blues" is a very common part of childbirth and
generally only lasts a few weeks, only some mothers (about 10%) may
become heavily depressed and will need to seek professional help.
Signs of Postpartum Depression
Ask yourself the following questions, if you think you might have postpartum depression:
Am I happy, as happy as what I was before I gave birth?
Do I feel like life is passing me by, and that things are unreal?
Do I feel like it’s an effort to do anything I usually have to do like clean up, bath baby etc.
Talk about the way you feel. Talk to a healthcare provider who has is knowledgeable about post-partum depression and breastfeeding. Get some emotional support as well, from somebody that you can confide in.
Most antidepressants are compatible with breastfeeding. Great resources for checking whether certain meds are safe and alternative treatments for depression:
Hale's medication and mother milk.
Non-pharmacological treatments for depression in new mothers by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett.
D-MER Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex
This is when a mother experiences feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and worse feelings when her milk is released (during a let-down reflex). After the reflex or after breastfeeding, the bad feelings go away and the mother is happy again. Read more about D_MER here.
Can Breastfeeding Help Prevent Baby-blues / Depression?
It has been proven that depression is lower in mothers who breastfeed, compared to their non-breastfeeding counterparts. Abrupt weaning can cause a mothers hormone levels to change, which can cause the depression.
is one of the hormones that is released while breastfeeding is a
powerful antidepressant. Many mothers who are experiencing post partum
blues, have been advised to stop breastfeeding and this may result in increased PPD symptoms.
What Causes Postpartum Depression?
The sudden drop in estrogen and progesterone after delivery.
Having a family history of depression or mental health issues.
No support system and therefore feeling overwhelmed by everything.
Breastfeeding problems may cause feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness.
The breastfeeding experience has been known to assist in the healing of an abusive past, a difficult birth or other emotional wounds. Nursing and skin to skin contact, from birth can decrease the high risk of depression in society.