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Disclaimer: The information in this post is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.

3 Tips for Breastfeeding with Postpartum Depression

After a new baby is born your hormones are out of whack. Thus it is normal for mom to feel sad and bluesy. About 85% of new moms get the baby blues. But if the sadness intensifies or lasts longer than a few weeks after delivery, that could mean postpartum depression has hit home for you. Depending on your ability to recognize the changes, having a healthy breastfeeding relationship is possible.

Postpartum depression and anxiety disorders affect 20% of new moms. They can come on slow, hit suddenly, or anywhere in the first 6 months after the birth of your baby.

The most important thing to know about postpartum depression is that it is not your fault.

3 tips for breastfeeding with postpartum depression

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

The baby blues can leave a mom feeling down, tearful, irritable, fatigued, and just not quite herself. These feelings should normally resolve within a few weeks as the hormones shift into motherhood mode. In contrast, moms need to look for symptoms that are more severe and the red flags below will help you recognize postpartum depression.

  • Disinterest in your baby
  • Guilt and a feeling of inadequacy
  • Excessive worrying
  • Irritability, anxiety, feeling on edge
  • Feeling like you are not yourself
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in life
  • Unable to sleep, even at night when your baby is sleeping
  • Having thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby
  • Lack of energy or motivation

Should you experience any of the above symptoms, discuss it with a loved one. Postpartum depression is defined by a new mother having 2-3 symptoms for 2-3 weeks. However, do not wait to reach out and connect if you feel like you are suffering from a mental disorder. In cases of severe PPD, early intervention with medical consultation is important for the health and safety of mother and baby.

Continuing to Breastfeed

With severe depression and anxiety it is common to disconnect from your baby. Continuing to breastfeed can help, though the benefits and risks need to be weighed.

Does breastfeeding help you recognize your role in your baby’s life? In contrast, does breastfeeding make you angry, sad, or frustrated? It is important to think hard on these types of questions before discontinuing breastfeeding. Stopping and starting a breastfeeding relationship is not easy.

Some mothers feel relief when they quit breastfeeding. Others feel their depression worsened after not having that bond.

Here are 3 tips for continuing to breastfeed with postpartum depression:

  1. Rest. Seriously, just do it. Unfragmented sleep is important in helping mothers manage and overcome postpartum depression. Though you most likely won’t get a full 8 hours with a newborn, shoot for at least 4 hours a night of uninterrupted sleep. And sleep while the baby is sleeping. Yes there are chores, but try and nap at least half as many naps as baby.
  2. Go outside. Vitamin D is huge when it comes to depression. Maternal mental illness is no different. Yes, enjoy your babymoon. Yes, feel free to laze about the house in your underwear. But take your new bundle in the backyard for some sun-fun time. Or at the very least, hang out in front of a window.
  3. Avoid isolation. Remember when I said it was okay to ask for help? This means friends and family, too. Invite your mom over to watch the baby while you shower. I’m sure your mother-in-law would love to come cook dinner for your family. And patio coffee dates with the bestie are important, too. (You can call that “me time” if it makes you feel better.)

Though these tips may sound like general tips to promote healthy mentality (they are), these are sweet and simple ways to ward off feelings of hopelessness and naturally balance those icky feelings. If you feel better, maintaining a healthy breastfeeding relationship will come more easily.

Pro tip: If you’re on the fence about breastfeeding through maternal mental illness, try pumping and letting your partner help. Getting even just that one little break has been known to help new mothers cope.

Find Support in the Community

Awareness of maternal mental health is rising in the United States. More women are speaking out and as a bonus, more support groups are being formed. Because 1 in 5 women have suffered, many mom groups will have connections available. Reach out to your community.

Good places to start are libraries, health centers, and women’s wellness centers. Do a Google search online. Most of my support comes in the form of Facebook groups and occasional local meetings. You can start with the resources from Postpartum Support International.

Do you have experience with breastfeeding with postpartum depression? Do you have any tips to share?


Shary Lopez is a late-twenties, nerdy gal living in Tampa Bay. Her family consists of a bearded husband and two children: one eight-year-old daughter and one very adventurous toddler boy. As a childbirth junkie and breastfeeding advocate, Shary tries to lean her family towards natural living while still grasping onto convenience and frugality. You can find more of her writings on Shary's personal blog, Atta Mama. Shary is also on social networking sites such as FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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