It is important for a breastfeeding mother to have adequate support during the postpartum period. Breastfeeding women who have little or no support during the postpartum period have an increased chance of developing postpartum depression (PPD). Why are breastfeeding women who have little support more likely to develop PPD?
· Breastfeeding women who have little or no support are more likely to experience pain which they make think is normal and expected. Nipple pain is associated with premature weaning. It is important to never minimize women’s pain during breastfeeding. Oftentimes, women’s pain is minimized or pushed to the side because the baby is gaining weight and is thriving, making it seem like the women’s feelings should not be taken into consideration. Having the proper support system in place will more likely minimize nipple and breast pain and trauma.
· Breastfeeding women who have little or no support have more on their plates. They may be expected to cook, clean, and care for other children in the early postpartum period which can be exhausting for a new mother. They need help so they can focus on resting and taking care of their babies. If they don’t have to worry about what to cook for dinner or that their house is presentable for company, they can focus on their breastfeeding relationship which is important to establishing an adequate milk supply during the early postpartum period.
· Breastfeeding women who have little or no support may think that their milk supply is inadequate which in turn can cause feelings of failure and may lead to formula supplementation which may make them feel even more like a failure. When formula is introduced without the proper support in place, it is less likely that the dyad will be able to successfully breastfeed. This can be devastating to a mother who wanted to exclusively breastfeed.
· Breastfeeding women who have little or no support are more likely to face sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep only exacerbates the feelings and problems that were previously stated.
The symptoms of PPD vary from woman to woman and vary in severity. Below are the symptoms of PPD.
· Panic Attacks
· Confusion and difficulty concentrating
· Irritability and hypersensitivity
· Feeling overwhelmed
· Feelings of inadequacy
· Sleep problems
· Changes in appetite
· Intrusive thoughts
· Memory Loss
· Excessive concern for your baby
· Disinterest in your baby
· Fear of harming yourself
· Loss of interest in activities, friends, and family
· Loss of interest in sex
· Somatic symptoms
Women who develop PPD after experiencing breastfeeding problems have an increased at premature weaning. It is important for all breastfeeding women to have a good support network in place to minimize their risk of developing PPD. If you suspect you or a loved one is experiencing PPD, please seek help with a health care professional who has experience treating PPD in breastfeeding women because they will know what medications are safe for breastfeeding women to take.
Venis, Joyce A., and Suzanne McCloskey. Postpartum Depression Demystified: An Essential Guide to Understanding and Overcoming the Most Common Complication after Childbirth. New York: Marlowe, 2007. Print.