Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression – Again

A recent research article, posted by The Postpartum Stress Center on Facebook, looks into the relationship between postpartum depression and breastfeeding.

The findings? Women who breastfeed are less likely to experience postpartum depression.

Here’s what The Postpartum Stress Center had to say about the study on Facebook:

“Uh-oh. Here we go… research shows reciprocal relationship between PPD and breastfeeding. Women who breastfeed were more likely to have PPD and women with PPD were less likely to breastfeed. Now, that being said – this is NOT what I see in my clinical practice. In fact, we see more evidence of women feeling BETTER when they stop breastfeeding. For a number of reasons that vary from woman to woman. This is why it continues to be important that we read the studies, but not jump to conclusions that may not relate to each individual woman.”

Here’s my reaction:

Caveats:

  • Small study – only 137 women
  • Mentions employed mothers who were formula feeding but the abstract makes no mention of employed breastfeeding/pumping mothers.

As a blogger focused primarily on Postpartum Mood Disorders and emotional health for moms, this study raises my hackles.

I’ve blogged about the whole breastfeeding v. not-breastfeeding thing during a Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorder thing before – several times- and each time, I conclude the same thing.

YOU have to do what is BEST FOR YOU. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says, it doesn’t matter what the research says, it doesn’t matter what is best for baby food-wise. What matters here, the most, is that you are addressing your needs, healing, and doing so in a manner which alleviates the most stress and anxiety for you.

Your motherhood journey is just that – yours.

The only thing which matters is that you, your baby, and your family, are thriving. If your path includes breastfeeding, great. If it doesn’t, that’s great too. When you struggle with a mental illness, your emotional health absolutely comes before everything else –at least in my book it does.

If you wanted to breastfeed but find it’s too stressful because of your Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorder, talk it over with your care-provider. Let them help you make your decision but don’t let them pressure you into continuing simply because the research claims breastfeeding is “protective” against PPD. Guess what? You’re already struggling. So unless breastfeeding is the ONE thing to which you’re clinging and the ONE thing which helps you heal, helps you feel like you matter, it’s OKAY to stop.

It’s okay to use formula.

Frankly, it’s sad we have to give ourselves permission not to breastfeed in this day and age. Moms use formula for a variety of reasons –as long as baby is growing, healthy, happy, and loved, it shouldn’t matter what form of nutrition is used.

So go. Do what feels best for you, for your family, and for your sanity –and don’t let anyone judge you for it.

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About LHale

Sassy, outspoken, laughing, football loving, F1 & MotoGP fanatic, coffee and beer snob, bacon addicted Mama blogging about Postpartum Mood Disorders as she tries to figure out her new place in this world. C'mon along for the ride, won't ya?

0 thoughts on “Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression – Again

  1. tk3010

    I adore this! I am one of those mothers for whom the elimination of the pressure to breastfeed helped immensely – so much so that with my third I didn’t even entertain breastfeeding and had the easiest of my 3 PPMD experiences. Thank you so much – so so so much – for emphasizing love and thriving over nutrition choices – all three of my kids are happy, healthy, loved, and thriving – and not one of them has a third arm as a result of being formula fed. :)

    1. Lauren Hale

      I’m glad you enjoyed this post.

      I breastfed my first for 16 months (she self-weaned), my second was fed pumped breastmilk for medical reasons until 7 months when, quite frankly, I couldn’t continue, and my third was breastfed until 6 months –my supply tanked due to emotional trauma (unrelated to PPD), and started formula within 48 hours of a diagnosis of Failure to Thrive for him.

      All three of them are happy, well adjusted, and did not develop a “third-arm” as you said. I bonded more with my 2nd daughter once I stopped pumping for her as I was no longer resenting her for the intensity of exclusively pumping. It’s because of her that I learned it’s more important to love and thrive than it is to focus on the way your infant is receiving nutrition. Love is the MOST important nutrition anyway, at least in my book.

      Warmest,
      Lauren

  2. FearlessFormulaFeeder

    You are a rockstar. I am so thrilled people with influence in the PPD community are speaking out about this. These are the types of unconditional, supportive, non-judgmental messages women in the thick of it need to hear. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Off to RT the link right now!

    1. Lauren Hale

      I saw the RT, thank you SO much for sharing this post.

      Nothing pisses me off more than this topic – nothing. Motherhood is such an individual journey and we owe mothers nothing less than complete support regardless of how they choose to travel down their road.

      Warmest,
      Lauren

  3. tranquilamama

    I wish these studies would use a bigger sample size and include more variations working moms who breastfeed and pump. For me, pumping was a chore as I know it was for many of the other working moms who had PPD. Breastfeeding was the one thing that I could do right, so I stuck with it. For me abruptly weaning would not have been the best decision for my mental health. Each mom should do what is best for her.

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