For breastfeeding moms, much of their time in the first months or even couple years is dedicated to pumping, providing breastmilk, and bonding during feeding sessions with their little ones. But eventually every mom comes to the point where it's time to wean, and it's not always an easy transition. As a result, many moms experience something referred to as the "booby blues," which often encompasses post-weaning depression, anxiety, or both. Fortunately, for moms who are worried about it or experiencing it currently, there are some things you can do to help with the booby blues.
Because breastfeeding moms are so attached to and on-call for their babies, it's not uncommon that breastfeeding becomes a major part of their lives. Because of this, some nursing moms experience depression or anxiety while they're weaning or after. Unlike postpartum depression, booby blues is not as widely known or talked about, but it is just as real. Booby blues, however, is more common in mothers who must unexpectedly cease breastfeeding. In an interview with SheKnows, board-certified lactation consultant Sara Chana said, "when women stop nursing out of a feeling of confidence, and not a feeling of giving up because she is powerless, the chance of sadness and depression is significantly lessened." Luckily, regardless of the cause of booby blues, there are a few things you can do to help.
1. Create A Bond Outside Of Breastfeeding
Many times, the booby blues are rooted in the feeling that bonding time is taken away once a mother weans. This, however, doesn't have to be the case when moms create other special activities or times for the sole purpose of focusing on your baby and continuing to bond one-on-one, according to information Chana shared with SheKnows.
2. Get Oxytocin Elsewhere
Oxytocin, sometimes known as the "cuddle-hormone," is a feel-good hormone released when mothers breastfeed. In an article on Psychology Today, psychologist Dr. Colleen Long wrote looking for ways to get oxytocin elsewhere can be helpful when you're no longer receiving high levels from breastfeeding. Cuddling your kids, kissing your significant other, exercising, or even getting a massage are all great ways to continue feeling the benefits of oxytocin.
3. Write Down Your Thoughts & Feelings
If you're experiencing feelings of depression and anxiety related to weaning, parenting coach Shelly Birger Phillips told SheKnows that keeping a journal is a simple and therapeutic way to process what's going on. Getting out your fears, your feelings, and the reason that led you to weaning onto paper can help you take back some control over your booby blues.
4. Try Baby-Led Weaning
According to Psychology Today, the booby blues are far less likely if a mother allows her child to initiate weaning versus choosing when the child weans. Although this is not always an option for moms, depending on health or a need to wean, if possible, baby-led weaning can be very effective in preventing depression during the weaning process.
5. Talk To Someone
According to Beautiful Breastfeeding, booby blues is often "a quality of life issue and if low moods, mood swings and symptoms of depression are present for more than two weeks, it is wise to seek help." Whether it be a fellow mom who understands what you're going through, a doctor, a therapist, or even a lactation consultant, one of the most helpful things you can do is talk to someone about your feelings after weaning.
Many moms with booby blues struggle with oxytocin levels at first or feel some sort of failure if forced to wean unexpectedly, but the truth is it's completely normal and nothing to be ashamed of. Going from breastfeeding every day to not breastfeeding at all is a major life change, and a transition or emotional period is to be expected.