Post Partum Depression and Breastfeeding


All too often, mothers dealing with post partum depression are encouraged to distance themselves from their newborn babies. Of course, doing this may require mothers to stop breastfeeding. However, research tends to show that mothers who breastfeed their babies have much fewer instances of post partum depression. Even those breastfeeding mothers who do suffer from post partum depression tend to have less severe bouts than mothers who do not breastfeed their babies.

We would do well to consider and deal with some of the other causes of post partum depression rather than giving mothers what amounts to bad advice. Of course, a number of the factors leading to depression (most notably fatigue) does stem from taking care of the considerable needs of a newborn baby.

In many cases, a mother’s fatigue can be greatly alleviated by having her partner take over as many of the non-feeding baby responsibilities as possible. Dad may not be able to breastfeed, but there’s certainly no reason he can’t change diapers, burp the baby, bathe the baby, or do any of the dozens of other little chores which taking care of a baby requires. If the father is no longer in the picture for one reason or another, consider recruiting your parents or a friend to help out with the baby to give yourself some much needed rest.

Breastfeeding helps to develop the nurturing relationship between a mother and her baby, directly impacting one of the major symptoms of post partum depression. Breastfeeding forces women to slow down and focus on the act of nurturing and feeding the baby.

It should be noted that if your post partum depression becomes so severe that you are in need of medication to curb thoughts and emotions which may be harmful to you or the baby, you should absolutely check with your doctor regarding whether or not it is safe to continue breastfeeding. While breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed your baby in most circumstances, there are some instances where medications (whether for depression or something else) can cause your breast milk to pose a danger to your baby, and we certainly wouldn’t encourage you to continue breastfeeding in such cases.

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