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Postpartum depression in breastfeeding

13 November 2022

Key points

  • Among the feelings of postpartum depression are sadness, tiredness, fatigue, and depression itself.

  • The breastfeeding process, along with seeking support from specialists, can help fight postpartum depression.

  • The main thing to overcome postpartum depression is not to doubt yourself and understand that you are not alone at this stage of your life.

Although “baby blues” and postpartum depression are very similar, in the first, the symptoms last only for the immediate weeks after delivery, while, in the second, sadness, tiredness, fatigue, and depression itself will be perceived as more severe and lasting longer, says Dr. Consuelo Manero Soto, psychotherapy and mental health specialist at ABC Medical Center

Many countries have included mental health care for mothers during pregnancy and postpartum in their health insurance. It is recognized that between 13% and 15% of mothers suffer from postpartum depression.1

For women, postpartum depression is caused by the physical and hormonal changes that they experience after the birth of their children, which could affect the breastfeeding process.

In this stage of life, the woman will experience something known as self-reliance, which guides the feeling when the mother feeds the baby. But when suffering from postpartum depression, this self-reliance will be diminished and the woman will doubt her ability to do it well.

As a consequence of these doubts, the period that the mother uses to breastfeed will decrease, which will affect the amount of milk produced, making the mother doubt her ability to feed the baby. This can become a vicious cycle where postpartum depression can increase.

In this situation, different actions can help you, as a mother, feel better when feeding your baby. The first and most important thing is to stop feeling guilty, this situation is relatively normal and can be dealt with. It is also important that you have confidence in yourself, in your body, and in your baby, as well as the people around you, among whom you could find someone who has experienced the same thing and can advise you.

Although other people cannot help you in the breastfeeding process, you can find support from them by preparing food, cleaning the house, or attending to visitors, in this way, you can pay attention to yourself, your baby, and the breastfeeding process.

Dr. Manero says that mothers have recurring doubts regarding depression and breastfeeding.

The first one is, what happens if I cry when I feed my baby? If this situation happens once or twice, or very sporadically, there are no major complications and can be considered normal. In these cases, it is advisable to seek to distract the feelings of sadness either by singing, changing activities, or even dancing.

On the other hand, if you frequently cry when feeding your baby, it is best to see a specialist who will help you solve it.

The specialist can also help you in case you have the feeling of not wanting to breastfeed your baby or even not being able to. This situation does not mean that you are a bad mother, you simply need someone to help you solve any doubts you have.

A great fear that mothers who suffer from postpartum depression have is whether this depression can be transmitted to the baby. The reality is that this does not happen. What can happen at first is that the sensations you already had while your baby was in the womb are transmitted to them, which can result in the baby feeling uncomfortable, crying, and not wanting to eat or sleep. In this sense, it is advisable to see a specialist or psychologist, who will help you understand if your baby is having a hard time because you are having a hard time or, perhaps, other issues are affecting them.

Breastfeeding has the benefit of generating many substances in the mother, which help the body stabilize the mood, with which you can help fight postpartum depression, as long as you are also working on this with a specialist, family, or your doctor.

There are many myths related to depression treatments, where there is a false belief that medications to treat depression or anxiety can harm us or even harm our baby. Currently, many medicines are not transmitted through milk, which will allow breastfeeding to be safe and healthy.

In case you feel that you suffer from postpartum depression, or baby blues, it is advisable to talk to your gynecologist or a psychiatrist, who will be able to guide you perfectly to know your options and fight these emotions.

Breastfeeding is a personal process and, as such, you will find your ways and your needs to feel more comfortable when feeding your baby.

At ABC Medical Center’s Obstetrics Center, we can provide you with specialized care. Contact us!

Dra. Consuelo Manero Soto – psychotherapy and mental health specialist at ABC Medical Center

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    Dra. Maria Consuelo Manero Soto

    Dra. Maria Consuelo Manero Soto


    Specialized on Psicology at the Universidad Anáhuac

    Learn more about this doctor Medical profile