Moms With Postpartum Depression Often Quit Breastfeeding

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breastfeeding postpartum depressionThe MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health analyzes a recent study of 42,000 women in Norway and how their anxiety or depression affected their breastfeeding, as well as how quitting breastfeeding affected their depression or anxiety.

In the past there hasn’t been a lot of data on the connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression, so this is a very large study looking at how these two things affect each other. This one finds that women with PPD are more likely to quit, but also that quitting may make the depression or anxiety worse. Visit MGH to learn more.

Here is a link to the actual study.

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About Katherine Stone

is the founder & editor of Postpartum Progress. She was named one of the ten most influential mom bloggers of 2011, a WebMD Health Hero and one of the top 25 parent bloggers using social media for social good. She also writes the Fierce Blog, and a parenting column for Disney's Babble.com.

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  1. Breastfeeding was one of the few things I still felt I was good at in the throes of my PPD. I was willing to forgo treatment for myself if that meant I had to give up breastfeeding. All it took was a little nudging on my part to get my pediatrician to talk to my doctor, who was unsure about the safety of drugs during breastfeeding. The pediatrician informed my doctor of safe medication. Sometimes doctors just play it on the safe side, because they don’t specialize in a particular issue and all they have with them in the exam room is the hand held drug advisor database. Advocate for yourself. Ask for a second opinion. A diagnosis of PPD isn’t a death sentence for breastfeeding. If stopping is something you believe will help you, then do what you need to do to care for yourself.

  2. I actually found the opposite to be true – once I quit (and got over the guilt of not BFing), I was a *much* happier person and felt a lot less resentful of my daughter. There was a bit where I felt defeated because I couldn’t BF her *and* take care of myself, but once I got through that, I was sleeping, and eating, and overall taking better care of myself. For me, stopping was the best thing I ever did – to the point where if I ever got pregnant again, I wouldn’t even consider BFing.

    • For me, stopping was essential to my health and hers. My anxiety was so bad it interfered with my letdown so at times I was not able to feed her. I had to wean at 12 weeks. I battle (unnecessary) remorse to this day, but it was the right decision.

    • Same for me — once I stopped breast feeding my panic attacks stopped and the anxiety significantly reduced. It still took a couple more months for the depression to lift, but I think the guilt that I was putting myself under for feeling like an unfit mother for quitting breast feeding was what, in part, continued to fuel the depression. I would bet that if this research study looked further into what made the depression/anxiety worse for the moms who quit breast feeding, they would find that for most of them it was probably the guilt over quitting breast feeding which really stems from the stigma these days over what people think is “the best way” to feed/parent your baby. I unfortunately was around a circle of moms who all breast fed their babies and could not even imagine giving their babies formula, so of course I felt like a horrible mother over the fact that breast feeding was not working for me. I still struggle with this feeling, even now in recovery from PPD/PPA. Can’t all of us mothers just learn to be more supportive of one another instead of creating these “standards” of what constitutes a good enough mother!!!!!

      • Sandra, I think “standing up” to the other mothers I know who felt formula feeding was “evil” has been a good thing for us now that my daughter is older. I do all kinds of things that aren’t “right” anymore (like forward facing at a year, let her play on the big slides at the playground), and the strength I found standing up earlier has made me care less about what others think of my parenting choices. I know I’m doing the best for my daughter that I can, and I don’t have to explain that to anyone else – OK maybe my husband :).

  3. Or you formula feed because you have chosen to stay on your medications and feel formula is better for your child than drugged breast milk….