We've talked quite a few times about breastfeeding here, only because it's such aBIGHONKINGMAJOR issue for those of us who suffer from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
Do I breastfeed or don't I? How will the baby be affected by the medication if I take it as part of my treatment? I'm having a hard time breastfeeding and want to quit, but will I be a failure if I do? Etc. Etc.
You know the drill.
Then I saw this yesterday on Science & Sensibility, the Lamaze International blog. It was written by guest blogger Kathleen Kendall-Tackett.
"There is a movement afoot in childbirth education and perinatal health urging mothers to avoid nighttime breastfeeding to decrease their risk for postpartum depression."
Really? I would say that there probably aren'ttoo manypeople who watch the postpartum depression community as closely as I do, and I haven't seen that "movement". I haven't seen anybody "urging" anything. What I have seen is people being more open-minded about a new mother's choice, and being more concerned about making sure that both mother and baby are healthy, not just baby.
I don't know Ms. Kendall-Tackett personally, but we have spoken via email before, and I do know she cares a lot about women with PPD. I have respect for her. I also know she cares a lot about breastfeeding, and I wonder if that colored herpost and its conclusions just a tiny bit.
The article shares some studies that found breastfeeding mothers got more sleep than those who were bottle-feeding. Well, that actually makes sense. But I don't see what it has to do with postpartum depression. Did the mothers in all of those studies have PPD? Did they look at whether mothers who had fathers doing the bottle-feeding during the night got more sleep? I just don't see how the conclusions are exactly clear here. Kendall-Tackett does, though:
"In sum, advising women to avoid nighttime breastfeeding to lessen their risk of depression is not medically sound. In fact, if women follow this advice, it may actually increase their risk of depression."
I'm not a doctor, so maybe I don't get it. I reached out to several experts I know in the field of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and asked them to take a look at the article, and to my relief, they didn't get it either. One told me of another study that found that women at high-risk for PPD who were kept in the hospital longer and whose babies were sent to the nursery at night developed less PPD than the control group.
I will quote another, without using this person's name since I didn't ask for permission:
" … the treatment of postpartum mood or anxiety disorders is highly individualized, including whether to breastfeed or not. Blanket pronouncements that one way is best, as suggested in this article, are not helpful, and likely contribute to the guilt/shame/stigma many womenfeel when they choose not to breastfeed."
That was my reaction as well. Perhaps it's because I know for a fact that I got more sleep when I stopped breastfeeding and went to a sleep management plan with my husband that included bottle-feeding. Other women though, find that breastfeeding is CRUCIAL for them and is the only thing that gives them comfort when they're going through PPD. That's great. Whatever works.
I know that breastmilk is better. I know that. I'm not stupid. I know God gave me these "golden bozos" for a specific reason and I didn't use them as indicated. If I could have breastfed successfully and hadn't been so screwed up with postpartum OCD, I would have. Really. I also know that my formula-fed son is in the Gifted program at school and is also the healthiest kid I have EVER met. EVER. So what can I say?
Couldn't we all simply agree that the best approach is for the mother and doctor to look closely at her history, her illness, her family situation andany other important factors,and then decide what is best?
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