(PPD) Postpartum Depression and Breastfeeding


What is Postpartum Depression?

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 should 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 postpartum blues. 

The "baby blues" is a common part of childbirth and generally lasts a few weeks, only some mothers (about 10%) may become profoundly depressed and will need to seek professional help.


Signs of Postpartum Depression


    Ask yourself the following questions:
  • Do I look forward to anything anymore?
  • Have I been very emotional lately (mood swings )?
  • Do I feel like I’m detached from my baby?
  • Do I find it difficult being intimate with my partner

Other symptoms may include:

  • Feeling tearful
  • Uncertain
  • Forgetful
  • Restless or irritable
  • Having regular nightmares
  • Struggling to sleep or sleeping too much
  • Negative feelings towards your baby
  • Excessive weight gain or loss
  • Persistent digestive issues, pain or headaches. 

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Depression Treatment

  • The entire family is affected when a mother is feeling depressed, even her baby.
  • Get at least eight hours of sleep daily.
  • Take a Postnatal Breastfeeding Multivitamin that is safe to take during breastfeeding.
  • Get as much help around the home as possible.
  • Talk about the way you feel. Talk to a healthcare provider who is knowledgeable about post-partum depression and breastfeeding. Get some emotional support as well, from somebody that you can confide in.
  • Eat a balanced diet; breastfeeding diet recommendations discussed here. 
  • Several studies have proven that exercise can be useful in treating depression. 
  • Ask your doctor about antidepressants that are safe to use during breastfeeding.
  • Some herbs are safe to take during breastfeeding that can help with PPD.


D-MER Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex

D-MER 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.

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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. Oxytocin, which is one of the hormones that is released while breastfeeding is a powerful antidepressant. Many mothers who are experiencing postpartum blues have been advised to stop breastfeeding, and this may result in increased PPD symptoms. 

Breastfeeding Cuts Depression Risk By Half

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. 



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.
  • Sleep deprivation causes irritability.
  • The persistent noise or crying of a new baby.
  • A mother's changed body image. Learn more about losing weight while breastfeeding.

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Postpartum depression support international.


Taking Antidepressants and Breastfeeding

Most antidepressants are compatible with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is still encouraged when a mother is on antidepressants. If a mother is forced to stop breastfeeding, it can leave her feeling even more depressed. 

Effects of PPD on Mom and Baby if Mom Doesn’t Get Treatment

  • A likely increased susceptibility to psychopathology in these children.
  • Boys whose depressed mothers show ambivalence to them, in the early months,  have higher rates of behavioral troubles and learning difficulties by the age of five.
  • A depressed mother is more likely to do self-harm or commit suicide.
  • Slower speech and skill development in babies.
  • Insomnia and breastfeeding problems.

Specific Drugs 

Please speak to your lactation consultant about taking specific drugs; the following is extra information to base your decision on.

  • Prozac is not recommended if Baby is younger than two months. Also, research shows that babies on Prozac might also struggle with colic and be fussier than usual.
  • Zoloft is found in low concentrations in breast milk, with no adverse effects on the baby.
  • Paxil is almost always never detected in mother's breast milk.
  • Celexa levels are higher in breast milk, and babies might have side effects.
  • Effexor not recommended because of its side effects.
  • Bupropion may reduce breast milk production.
  • Valium is not recommended as it may sedate the baby and increase the risk of SIDS “Sudden Infant Death Syndrome."
  • Tricyclics have too many harmful side effects.

Why are SSRI Drugs Safer than Other Drugs during Breastfeeding?

  • It has a success rate in patients of up to 70%.
  • It is not addictive.
  • It has no associated buzz.
  • Very mild withdrawal symptoms.
  • Side effects usually fade away over time.

Should you Wean your Baby when on antidepressants?

  • The benefits of continued nursing outweigh most harmful effects of taking medication while breastfeeding. You need to work with your lactation consultant so that you can make an informed decision. 
  • Quitting the breastfeeding relationship can increase depression levels.
  • Continued breastfeeding will help Mom feel stable. There are feel-good hormones released while breastfeeding. 

A great resources for checking whether certain meds are safe and alternative treatments for depression:


Alternative Natural Treatment for Depression

Other Natural Ways of Treating Depression while Breastfeeding


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