What To Do If You Think Breastfeeding Is Making You Depressed, Because It Can Happen
So many moms seems to think that if they don't love every moment of breastfeeding, they're somehow failing. Well, that couldn't be further from the truth. Breastfeeding is tough on your body, and it can even take a toll on your mental health. Having a love-hate, or even a hate-hate, relationship with breastfeeding doesn't make you any less of a mother. But if it's stirring up negative feelings, it may be in your best interest to learn what to do if breastfeeding is making you depressed.
The first thing to remember is that you're not alone, and whatever you're feeling isn't your fault. Plenty of moms experience depression when breastfeeding, and for some it can be linked to postpartum depression (PPD). One mom who shared her story with XO Jane noted that her depression was made worse by the fact that breastfeeding didn't go smoothly for her and her baby. As someone who never developed a successful nursing relationship with her baby, I can personally attest to the fact that it can make you feel like the world's worst mom. It's important for people to accept and remind each other that fed is best, and your kid is going to grow and thrive no matter what you're feeding them. If you need to stop breastfeeding for your mental health, do it without shame.
That being said, PPD isn't the only reason that breastfeeding may make you sad. If you're breastfeeding-related depression is stemming from simply being able to do it properly or not, it may help to see a lactation consultant according to Parents. You may find that improving your technique can make nursing more enjoyable and less painful, and that can in turn improve your state of mind.
Even if you love breastfeeding and it's going well, you may still find that at times when you're nursing you're flooded with feeling of anxiety and dread. That's thanks to a condition called Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex. According to Kelly Mom, Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex, or D-MER, is the result of dopamine levels dropping dramatically when you letdown milk, and that drop may explain the negative feelings. Understanding that this is a purely physical response that has nothing to do with what's going on your in mind or how you feel about your baby may make it easier for some moms to cope with it.
If your feelings of depression aren't going away, it's important to speak to your doctor. PPD is common, whether it's linked to breastfeeding or not— the American Psychological Association estimates that as many as one in seven women experience it. There are plenty of treatments available, and there's no need for you to suffer in silence.