Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression: What Is The Connection?

There seems to be a significant connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.

Many women who have been diagnosed with postpartum depression also report trouble breastfeeding.  Their struggles include latching problems, not producing enough breast milk, or an overall aversion to breastfeeding in general.  With this being such a common concern, it seems there must be a connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.

A connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression is not an easy one to decipher, however.  It’s likely caused by a number of different factors, both physical and psychological.  And the fact that postpartum depression also affects women who have no issues breastfeeding makes it even more complicated to figure out. 

Let’s dig deeper into the connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.

Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression - What is the Connection?

Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression - What is the Connection?

The “Unnaturalness” of Breastfeeding

The only thing that’s natural about breastfeeding is that it feels so completely unnatural. It may have been natural hundreds of years ago, when people lived more closely among animals and watched them raise their young.  In the days when daily life consisted of fetching well water and hunting for food, breastfeeding was the norm.  But modern civilization has taken the “naturalness” out of breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression Infographic
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Breastfeeding exposes a woman, making her feel vulnerable and embarrassed.  Most women have never walked around bare-breasted before.  And now, suddenly, other people are inspecting and staring at her breasts, even grabbing them like hamburgers.  Plus, there’s the added feature of getting used to another human being sucking away on them in a completely asexual way.

But instead of admitting that breastfeeding feels unnatural, the message mothers are given about breastfeeding is that it’s what’s best for her baby, that it’s completely natural and instinctual, and that if she’s doing it right, it shouldn’t hurt.  Perhaps the connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression stems from the gross misinformation that new mothers are given.

some truths about breastfeeding:

It’s painful.  Yes, even when you’ve got a proper latch, it can still hurt.

It doesn’t happen instinctively.  Babies will root around, looking for a nipple, but the majority of them don’t know what the heck they’re doing.

It’s embarrassing. And others will make you feel guilty for being embarrassed and say insensitive things like “we’ve seen it all before.”

It’s annoying.  Newborns eat often and can suck for a long time.  Having to feed a baby on demand means you barely have time to do anything else, let’s not even talk about pumping.

It gets easier? Yeah, sure, once you get the latch figured out, it might seem like things are going smoothly.  Until you have a 6 month old who likes to shove their feet in your mouth, pull your hair and scratch your chest while they nurse.

How, When & Why to Do Breast Compression
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The Guilt of Not Breastfeeding

Despite all of this, the majority of mothers will attempt to breastfeed their child because “breast is best” and what kind of mother would they be if they didn’t at least try to give their child the best?  This overwhelming pressure on mothers most definitely plays a part in the connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.

Contrary to (un)popular belief, mothers don’t just give up breastfeeding because it’s too hard.  They usually seek help from a professional, try supplements to increase their supply, pump day and night and do everything else in their power, which often causes a severe amount of stress, anxiety and feelings of worthlessness.  

A mother who is unable to breastfeed, regardless of the reason, will feel guilty for not doing it, despite the fact that it is not her fault.  She may even be embarrassed to admit to other mothers that she is not breastfeeding for fear of being judged.

Connection Between Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression
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Stress Inhibits Breastfeeding

All of these misconceptions about breastfeeding can set a new mother up for failure. Instead of experiencing something she hoped would be beautiful and natural, she feels frustrated and stressed out.  Stress then inhibits breast milk production, and not producing enough breast milk stresses a mother out even more.  So it becomes nothing but a vicious cycle.

We know that stress can cause all kinds of symptoms in our bodies, both mentally and physically.  Stress leads to anxiety, insomnia, poor eating habits, weight gain or loss, neck and back pain, headaches, depression and more.  So it’s no wonder that stress is the primary culprit in the connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.

How to Ensure Successful breastfeeding with postpartum depression
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Breastfeeding in Public

Breastfeeding in public may be legal, but that doesn’t make it any less awkward for a new mother who is already feeling exposed and vulnerable.  We’ve all heard the horror stories of women being shamed for breastfeeding in public.  While we applaud those who do stand up for themselves, that level of courage is not in all of us.

Even if we are never actually confronted about public breastfeeding, we often take additional measures to prevent it from making those around us uncomfortable.  This comes at the cost of our own comfort, and that of our baby, usually resulting in an unsuccessful public breastfeeding experience.  Therefore, the mere thought of having to breastfeed a screaming, hungry baby in a public place can cause high levels of stress and anxiety. 

A new mother struggling to breastfeed may avoid spending time outside of the house for this reason.  Eventually, this feeling of being trapped in the house can have an effect on a mother’s mental health and the longer it persists, the more dangerous it becomes.

5 Things New Moms Fear about Breastfeeding
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Breastfeeding with D-MER

If you’re not familiar with the breastfeeding condition known as D-MER (Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex) you can read about in this post.  D-MER can cause a mother to have an overall aversion to breastfeeding and develop negative thoughts and feelings towards it.  While D-MER is a physiological response as opposed to a psychological one, I believe that it can play a part in the connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.

For a mother with undiagnosed D-MER, she may associate extremely negative thoughts and feelings towards breastfeeding, which could transfer over into negative thoughts towards herself or her baby.  This constant weight of negativity creates an environment where mental illness thrives.

It’s important for mothers who have negative feelings while breastfeeding to speak up about them and seek help.  It could be D-MER or it could be postpartum depression.  Either way, help and information are available.

D-MER: When Breastfeeding Makes You Feel Sad
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Ultimately, a lot of different things can affect a breastfeeding mother and prevent her from being successful at it. If breastfeeding is causing you to feel stressed, anxious, vulnerable, embarrassed, ashamed or creating a negative experience altogether, then it’s worth weighing the risks and benefits.  While there are so many wonderful benefits of breastfeeding for babies and mothers, forcing yourself to breastfeed at the cost of your mental health is not worth it.


5 Things New Mothers Fear About Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is so much more of a learning process than it’s made out to be.

There can be a lot to fear about breastfeeding for a woman who has never done it before.  In fact, so many women expect it to happen naturally and instinctively that, when it doesn’t, they are left feeling inadequate.  And while there is nothing wrong with having to supplement or formula feed instead, being unable to breastfeed can be heartbreaking for many women who were determined to do it.

Even a mother who has breastfed a previous child has fears about doing it again.  Each child latches differently and has their own feeding preferences and habits.  Breasts also go through changes with each pregnancy and round of breastfeeding.  The most seasoned breastfeeding mom may still have concerns, or run into problems that she has never encountered before.

It’s perfectly normal to experience different levels of fear about breastfeeding.  Here are some common ones that many mothers experience.
5 Things New Moms Fear about Breastfeeding
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust. **Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.

Fear of Not Producing Enough

This is probably the most common fear about breastfeeding.  Unlike formula/bottle feeding, there is no way to precisely measure how much milk baby is getting.  This requires moms to monitor things like diapers and weight gain to ensure baby is getting enough.  That can be a tough task for a new mom who isn’t quite sure how much is normal. [Download a free printable feeding and diaper tracker from Milkology]

If moms are really concerned, they may resort to pumping their breast milk and bottle feeding it to baby.  But they need to be aware that the amount of breast milk pumped out is not equivalent to the amount that baby can drink straight from the breast.  Even the best breast pumps are not nearly as effective as a well-latched baby.

Another factor that contributes to the fear of not producing enough milk is baby’s eating pattern.  Cluster feeding, which is totally normal in newborns, can make a mother believe that baby isn’t getting enough and is therefore continuously hungry.  Not getting enough hind milk can also cause a baby to feed more often than usual, and not an indication of a low supply.

There are several ways to increase milk supply naturally.  Stress about not having enough can actually hinder the production of breast milk.

How to Ensure Successful breastfeeding with postpartum depression
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Fear of Pain

A common myth is that it shouldn’t hurt if you are doing it correctly – but even with the proper latch, it can still feel uncomfortable.  The pain does lessen over time, but sore nipples are almost unavoidable for the first few months.  Many new mothers hear painful horror stories and develop a strong fear about breastfeeding.

There are several conditions that can cause pain during breastfeeding:

An incorrect latch

An oversupply or forceful letdown

A clogged milk duct

Blisters

A teething/biting baby

Engorgement

Thrush

Mastitis

It can be difficult to tell the difference between pain caused by a problem and normal soreness caused by breastfeeding.  Here’s a great article from KellyMom about breastfeeding pain, but the best way to know for certain is to get the help of a certified lactation consultant.

How, When & Why to Do Breast Compression
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Fear of Breastfeeding in Public

It’s every woman’s legal right to breastfeed their baby in public, but that doesn’t mean that every woman will want to.  The lack of privacy that comes along with breastfeeding is something that can cause a lot of fear and anxiety for new mothers.  It can even cause latching problems because a mother feels uncomfortable and vulnerable feeding in public.

The first few days after birth can be the most overwhelming for a new mother learning to breastfeed.  For a person who has likely never had their breasts exposed to strangers before, there will suddenly be all kinds of interest in them.  Nurses, midwifes, lactation consultants will all want to watch as you latch the baby.  They may even hold or touch your breasts in an effort to help you get into the right position or correct the latch.  Even well-meaning relatives may try to help, not realizing that their presence is causing you stress.  With a steady stream of visitors lining up to see the new baby, it can be difficult to find enough privacy to focus on breastfeeding correctly.

There are also more and more stories circulating about women being shamed for breastfeeding in public.  No matter how discreetly you do it, or how well you know your rights, the fear of being confronted can cause a lot of unwanted anxiety.  Some women resort to pumping and taking bottles when they go out, but pumping breast milk is so much more work that it often discourages mothers from long-term or exclusive breastfeeding.

We all want to be those brave mothers who nurse in public and tell strangers to mind their own business.  But the reality is, when it comes down to it – we end up feeding our babies in a bathroom stall instead because the fear about breastfeeding in public is real!

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Fear of the Unknown

Breastfeeding is a learning process.  There’s a reason why there are entire careers dedicated to the skill of lactation.  Thousands of years ago, women were taught to breastfeed by their mothers who learned from their mothers before them.  If a woman could not breastfeed their child likely died, so it was a matter of life and death.  Thankfully, we have the luxury not to worry about that anymore.  However, that also means that breastfeeding correctly isn’t as high of a priority now.

Being educated about breastfeeding is not just a necessity, it’s our right.  We have so much knowledge available to us that it makes no sense to go about it blindly and expect it just to happen automatically.  We fear things that we know nothing about.  The only way to defeat that fear is to get educated.

Learning about breastfeeding doesn’t have to be complicated and involve tons of research.  Nor does it always mean having to get help from a professional.  There are several resources available that have done all the hard work and research already, such as The Breastfeeding Handbook from Mom Smart Not Hard.  It’s only $9 and includes a ton of information and printables.  It is designed to help you gain the most amount of knowledge, in the shortest amount of time.

If you’re more of a visual person, then there are courses like Milkology which has tons of pictures and instructional videos.  At only $19, it’s quite affordable compared to other lactation courses.  And the best part about online courses or e-books is that they can be accessed so conveniently and privately, that there’s really no excuse why anyone couldn’t do it.

Knowing what to expect and how to handle problems as they arise can help to reduce a new mother’s fear about breastfeeding.

Milkology
Milkology

Fear of Stopping

There is so much pressure on mothers to breastfeed that the fear of NOT breastfeeding can cause a lot of stress.  That stress in itself can cause all kinds of breastfeeding problems.  Many mothers don’t get the support they need to breastfeed and end up unsuccessful.  But even doing everything right isn’t a guarantee of success.  Some women try everything possible to breastfeed, and are still unable to produce enough milk.

The fear of quitting breastfeeding and switching to formula can cause mothers to continue doing it despite the pain and stress.   They might worry that they will be less of a mother if they are unable to breastfeed.  Perhaps they are worried about letting down their spouse or feel disappointed in themselves.  There is also the additional costs associated with formula feeding that can add financial stress.

The women who are successful at breastfeeding may worry about weaning their baby.  If they need to go back to work or need to leave baby for an extended period of time, there is the worry that baby will not settle without nursing or won’t take a bottle.  Some mothers might worry that their baby will want to wean suddenly, before they are ready to give it up.

Mothers shouldn’t feel guilty or afraid to stop breastfeeding as long as they are doing what is best for themselves and their babies.  A fed, happy and healthy baby will result in a happier, less stressed out mom.  And the mental health benefits of that are much more important than those of breastfeeding.

D-MER: When Breastfeeding Makes You Feel Sad
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Some mothers experience a higher level of fear about breastfeeding than they do about childbirth.  When you consider all the pressure there is to do it plus the stigma that still exists about doing it in public, it’s no wonder why.  The best way that mothers can get over their fears is to learn everything they can about it and know where to turn if they need help.  With the right support and tools, breastfeeding can be an enjoyable experience, instead of one to fear.



How to Ensure Successful Breastfeeding with Postpartum Depression

Many women with postpartum depression report struggling to breastfeed, or at least feeling that extra pressure to do so.

It’s hard to know for certain whether breastfeeding problems cause postpartum depression symptoms or if symptoms of postpartum depression are making it difficult to breastfeed.  It could be a combination of both.

Either way, breastfeeding takes some work.  For a mother with postpartum depression, it’s just another aspect of motherhood that can contribute to more stress, added pressure, and self-doubt.

Here are some tips for mothers who are, or who might be, concerned about breastfeeding with postpartum depression.
How to Ensure Successful breastfeeding with postpartum depression
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.  **Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.

Do Your Research

Don’t expect breastfeeding to come naturally to you and baby.  Sometimes it does, but don’t expect it to.  Breastfeeding may have come naturally to our ancestors hundreds of years ago when life was simpler, but if we want to be successful at it now, then we need to do some research.

The best time to do that research is while still pregnant, since the first few days of breastfeeding are the toughest.  If you’ve enrolled in a birthing class, it’s likely they will cover breastfeeding as well.  Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you can think of and take detailed notes.  You never know which aspect of breastfeeding you might struggle with.

Being prepared for any breastfeeding setbacks can help you handle problems better if you end up suffering from postpartum depression.

If you’re already breastfeeding with postpartum depression, it’s never too late to research ways to improve your experience.  There are plenty of resources available to help you.

A postpartum doula is a great option to consider if you’re worried about breastfeeding.  They are trained to help mothers breastfeed successfully and can help you get enough rest and proper nutrition after giving birth, which is important for milk production.

Benefits of Doulas
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Recommended Resources:

Milkologyan online breastfeeding class that offers tons of information for all the different stages of breastfeeding. 

Mom Smart Not Hard this site has some really specific breastfeeding articles.  I also recommend taking their Free 5 Day Breastfeeding Course and downloading the Breastfeeding Handbook to use as a reference when you’re offline.

KellyMomthe ultimate online breastfeeding resource.  You can find articles about basically every single breastfeeding situation and/or question you could possibly have.

ABCKidsinc– a great collection of articles about all things breastfeeding.  Includes common questions about health, diet, medications and products.

The Womanly Art of BreastfeedingThis book from the La Leche League is a breastfeeding bestseller for a reason.  You can read it while pregnant and keep it on hand as a quick resource when and if situations arise.

For more resources, check out this post from The Merry Momma – An Epic List of Breastfeeding Tips and Resources


Learn About D-MER

Also known as Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex.  D-MER is a newer breastfeeding condition that often gets confused as a symptom of postpartum depression.  It is characterized by feelings of anxiety, sadness, panic, dread or loneliness that are brought on during letdown.

It is important to note that D-MER is NOT a symptom of postpartum depression, although it is triggered by a change in hormone levels.  The “dysphoric” state that it causes is purely a physiological response to the sudden drop in dopamine levels required to increase milk-producing prolactin.  In other words – a chemical imbalance.

Women with D-MER can also suffer from postpartum depression, which can add to the confusion and increase aversion to breastfeeding.  Simply recognizing the unpleasant feelings as a physiological response, as opposed to a psychological condition, can make a huge difference.

D-MER: When Breastfeeding Makes You Feel Sad
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Start Off Right

There is one epic moment after you have a baby that opens the door for breastfeeding success.  What you do in this moment will set the pace for your breastfeeding journey.  I’m talking about when your milk comes in.

Up until your milk comes in, baby has just been “suckling” and they haven’t really been “feeding” on much other than colustrum (still super important, though).  And then one morning, you wake up with boulders on your chest, pain up to your armpits and a soaked t-shirt and have more milk than you know what to do with.

The most important things to focus on when your milk comes in are:

Proper Latching

It will be difficult to latch a baby onto an extremely full breast.  The nipple can flatten or invert, and squeezing the breast to get it into baby’s mouth can be incredibly painful.  Using breast shells was a lifesaver for me during engorgement.

Here’s a helpful infographic about getting the right latch from The Milk Memoirs.

Hind Milk

With extremely full breasts, there is a lot of watery fore milk at the front, and the rich, fattier hind milk at the back of the breast.  You want to make sure that baby is getting enough of the fattier hind milk before they get full.  Otherwise, you can end up with greenish poops and red bums, along with other problems.  The breast compression technique is the best way to ensure baby is getting the good stuff.

How, When & Why to Do Breast Compression
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Clogged Milk Ducts

The name says it all and the last thing you want to end up with is a swollen, red clogged milk duct.  If left untreated, it can lead to mastitis.  Thankfully there are lots of easy remedies to help loosen up a blocked duct.

Regulating Milk Supply

It might be tempting to pump out all that extra milk, but the best thing you can do is just feed, feed, feed.  Baby may go through a cluster feeding phase when your milk comes in so just lay in bed and feed baby all day long if you need to.  Feeding on demand will help to regulate your milk supply so that your body will learn to produce exactly the right amount of milk for your baby’s needs.

Nursing Positions

Once you have an adequate supply of milk, you should start experimenting with different nursing positions.  A football hold is great for managing those XL sized engorged breasts.  Lying back can be helpful if you have a forceful letdown.  Side-Lying is always a popular option for night feedings or to get through cluster feeding sessions.  You can even try nursing with baby in a baby carrier.

[Related Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Breastfeeding Positions]


Reduce Stress While Nursing

Stress is the number one killer of a good milk supply.  Stressing out about whether or not you’re producing enough milk is the last thing you should do.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression or anxiety and feel like it is impacting your milk supply, try to find ways to calm yourself down during feedings.

For more advice on handling and reducing stress, you can find a variety of articles on Better Help – https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/stress/

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Some Suggestions:

Listen to musicput on your favorite playlist.

Aromatherapydiffuse some essential oils, check out the mood collection from Rocky Mountain Oils.

Practice Deep Breathingyoga and meditation can help you to clear your mind completely.  Try to use slow, deep breaths while you feed baby.

Nurse while in the bathnursing your baby (or pumping) while sitting in a warm bath can help your body and mind relax enough to let the milk flow effortlessly.

Watch TVdistract yourself with a good show or movie.

Read a Book or Magazineor use an e-reader or tablet.

Look at old picturesMake an album filled with pictures of happier times and loved ones. (I love these customizable photo albums from Mixbook)

Get Comfortablefind the most comfortable spot in your home to nurse baby and make sure everything you need are within arms reach.  If you’re out in public, do whatever makes you most comfortable – whether it’s nursing with or without a nursing cover.  

Cry it Outcrying is a way to release stress and built-up tension, not always a sign of despair.

Postpartum Depression Self Care
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Support vs. Pressure

Women with postpartum depression are extra sensitive to criticism, because they already feel like failures themselves.  They often mistake breastfeeding support as pressure to breastfeed.  I have heard many women with postpartum depression say they felt they would let their partner down if they could not breastfeed.

The truth is, your partner likely doesn’t care as much about breastfeeding as you do.  They want what’s best for the baby, and if they’ve done as much research as you have, they also feel the pressure for breastfeeding to succeed.  But they don’t feel the emotional urge like you do.  They don’t understand what a total body experience it is.

What they do care about most, is you.  They don’t want you to be miserable and in pain simply to breastfeeding.  They will never think of you as a failure for not being able to breastfeed.

If they truly support you, then they will stand by you no matter what decision you make.  And if your partner’s opinions about breastfeeding are causing you unwanted stress, it’s important to tell them, because they may not realize how much it’s affecting you.

14 Ways to Help A Mother with Postpartum Depression
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Treatment Options While Breastfeeding

Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.  I wasn’t given the option to take anti-depressants while I was breastfeeding, but I’ve heard that there are several safe options now.  Prescription anti-depressants are not the only option, either.

Therapy is a great option for breastfeeding with postpartum depression.  There are different types of therapy available, including cognitive behavior therapy, support groups or couples therapy.

There are several different herbs, supplements, vitamins, and minerals that have been known to improve symptoms of depression.  If you’re not sure where to begin, I recommend this e-book and treatment plan to learn more about which ones are best for you.

Acupuncture has also been known to help with symptoms of postpartum depression, but make sure to indicate that you are also breastfeeding.

Don’t feel like treatment is out of the question for you if you are breastfeeding with postpartum depression, it’s important to know all your options. 

How To Know if Online Therapy Is The Right Choice for Moms
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Giving Up IS An Option

Choosing to stop breastfeeding will NOT make you a bad mother.  Yes, we know that breast is best, and that there are so many benefits to breastfeeding.  But at what cost?

When we weigh out the risks vs. the benefits, your mental health is one hundred times more important than the benefits of breastfeeding. 

There are so many advanced options for formula feeding that your baby will never be at a disadvantage.  In fact, they’ll grow up into junk food addicts just like every other kid.  One day, you will watch your toddler eat dirt in the backyard and wonder why you ever stressed out about breastfeeding.

It’s alright to feel guilty for not breastfeeding, but there are so many other ways to bond with, and provide for, your baby. You will only be able to do those things if you focus on your mental health so that you can be there for them completely.

5 Things New Moms Fear about Breastfeeding
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My own personal experience of breastfeeding with postpartum depression was actually a pleasant one.  Knowing that my daughter needed me for her survival was what kept me going.  As much as I despised doing it at the time, especially the night time feedings, I realize now that it’s what saved me from detaching from her completely.

No matter what your experience is like, or what choices you make for your baby, remember that your mental health and physical well-being are just as important as theirs.

How to Ensure Successful Breastfeeding with Postpartum Depression

How to Ensure Successful Breastfeeding with Postpartum Depression

How to Ensure Successful Breastfeeding with Postpartum Depression

How to Ensure Successful Breastfeeding with Postpartum Depression

How to Ensure Successful Breastfeeding with Postpartum Depression

5 Unbelievable Facts About Breastfeeding

The art of breastfeeding is as miraculous as giving birth itself.  But in this modern age, it has become less “natural” and “instinctual” and many women struggle with different aspects of it.  Whether it’s mastering the perfect latch, or getting comfortable nursing in public – it’s never an easy task.

While any mother unable to breastfeed should  never feel guilty – those that can often need some encouragement through the difficult times.

This guest post by Erica Johnson from Inner Parents highlights five unbelievable facts about breastfeeding that are sure to encourage any lactating mother that she’s doing what’s best for her baby.

5 Unbelievable Facts about Breastfeeding - a Guest Post by Erica Johnson *This post may contain affiliate links*
*This is a guest post and all opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of www.runningintriangles.com


The breastfeeding relationship can provide a wonderful bonding experience between a mother and her infant. Nursing is also deeply comforting to most babies, helping them relax and drift off to sleep.

The benefits of breastfeeding are not just emotional, however. Breast milk is a complex and dynamic substance that science is only beginning to understand.

Here are five facts about breastfeeding that prove what a truly unbelievable feat a woman’s body is capable of producing.

5 Unbelievable Facts about Breastfeeding - a Guest Post by Erica Johnson

1. Breastmilk Contains Substances That Cannot be Recreated in Formula

Hormones, living immune cells and enzymes are exclusively supplied by breastmilk and are perfectly suited to each individual infant’s needs. Human milk contains several different types of proteins in concentrations and forms that are easily digestible. While minerals like calcium and iron are present to a lesser degree in breastmilk than in formula, they are in such readily available forms that the baby ends up absorbing a greater amount. The immune properties in human milk also bring the benefit of easier storage and less worry compared to formula.

How to Ensure Successful breastfeeding with postpartum depression
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2. Breastmilk Boosts Baby’s Immune System

Breastmilk is filled with a wide array of immune factors that help protect babies from viruses and bacteria. The specific antibodies the mother supplies provide tailored protection against microorganisms commonly found in the environment the baby is entering. The transfer of antibodies continues even once weaning has started: As baby begins to eat more solid food and less milk, the concentration of immune factors in the breastmilk increases.

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3. Milk Composition Fluctuates Continually

Babies often can’t help falling asleep while nursing, but it is not just the act of nursing that encourages sleep. Studies of breastmilk samples have shown that certain sleep-inducing components are present in greater amounts during the evening and nighttime hours. The milk’s make-up changes even over the course of a single feed. At the beginning of a nursing session, the milk is high in lactose, low in fat and perfect for quenching baby’s thirst. Closer to the end, the lactose level decreases and the fat level rises, giving the baby a kind of “dessert” that keeps them full and satisfied until the next feeding.

How, When & Why to Do Breast Compression
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4. Breastfeeding Burns More Calories Than Pregnancy

During the third trimester, approximately 300 more calories are required daily to support the growing baby. While breastfeeding, the mother will need 500 extra calories to produce breastmilk. Breastfeeding mothers often find it easier to lose the pregnancy weight, and nursing also helps the uterus return to pre-pregnancy size by stimulating stronger and more effective uterine contractions.

5 Things New Moms Fear about Breastfeeding
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5. Breastfeeding Reduces Cancer Risk

Women who breastfeed their babies have been shown to have a lower risk of developing breast cancer later in their lives. Scientists believe this protection stems from the fact that estrogen levels are lower while breastfeeding continues. In addition, breastfed babies have lower rates of obesity throughout their lives. Since obesity is a significant factor in several types of cancer, the baby also is placed at a lowered risk of cancer in their own lives.


The Ultimate Guide to Breastfeeding Positions

Being successful at breastfeeding can be as simple as finding the right position.  Certain breastfeeding positions work better for some than for others, depending on the situation and your comfort level.

Here are some tips to ensure that you are utilizing all the positions correctly and getting the most out of your breastfeeding experience.

The following is a guest post from Ahmed Fawzi at www.Breastfeedo.com.  [Images used with permission]

The Ultimate Guide to Breastfeeding Positions

*This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.


5 Breastfeeding Positions

1. Cradle and Cross Cradle Nursing Position

Both are the most common nursing position of all time where you carry your baby within your arms to breastfeed him.

Cradle hold

In which your baby is lying on your forearm on his side “the forearm of the same breast you use to breastfeed”

Cross-cradle hold

The same of cradle hold except your baby is on the opposite forearm of the breast you use to breastfeed (i.e. if you breastfeed from the right breast, your baby is held on your left forearm and vice versa)

Important notes

Your baby is on his side where his head and neck are in the same straight line. In other words, if your baby’s neck is tilted down, the swallowing process would be hard which affects the milk extraction negatively and hence your milk supply.

Your breast is at the same level of baby’s head.

Always keep your baby’s head free to move back to enable him to catch your breast deeply and widely.

Stomach to stomach

Baby’s legs are around your waist for more comfort and control.


2. Football Nursing Position

This position got its name as it looks like when football “rugby” players are carrying the ball under their armpit. Your baby is on his side or his back and his head -the rugby ball- is between your armpit and your used breast.

Baby’s body is wrapped around your side and back “hidden from the side view.” This particular position is preferred in 3 main cases:

If you have twins  – double football hold

After C-section – no load on your abdomen

Large breasts – you have a good/wide-angle view of your baby’s latch

Important notes

As we said before, your baby’s body is wrapped around your truck but keep his legs away from any solid surface such as the back of the chair or sofa.

That is because the natural baby reflex, called stepping reflex (when his legs step on any solid surface he tends to push himself against that surface) makes the latching process hard and unstable.

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The most comfortable position while nursing without thinking is…

3. The Laid Back Nursing Position (it is also called The Biological Nurturing).

Simply, you are lying on your back in a semi-reclined position by using two pillows under your head and neck and your baby is positioned along your body.

In that amazing breastfeeding position, you get the use of gravity to fix your baby while latching without the need of pillows or extra effort to support.

The laid-back nursing position is best for :

Tired and lazy moms 🙂

Breastfeeding at bedtime

If you don’t have any breastfeeding pillows or blankets to use

For moms who are suffering from low breast supply.

HOW?  During this nursing position, your baby’s body is in contact with all your body.  This would stimulate the breast milk let down and makes your baby at the optimum feeling of comfort and security.

Important notes

It is the most recommended position after birth and within 1 hour.

The biological nurturing helps your baby to self-latch by searching for your dark nipple (and he can smell it, too.)

This position is also suitable for moms after c-section with little modification. Just rotate the baby 90° degrees clockwise or counterclockwise to avoid his load on your abdomen.  Also, you can rotate the baby more than 90° degrees to reach your shoulder.


4. The Side-Lying Nursing Position

Nursing while side lying is another in bed breastfeeding position which is suitable at the end of your day. Both of you are satisfied when it comes to breastfeeding at night where:

Your baby wakes up to get his meal

You stay comfortable and you don’t have to change your position   completely

Important notes

It is suitable if you co-sleep with your baby.

Both of you are on their side, facing each other forming V shape.  Your baby’s head is at the level of your breast the same side of lying and his head is free to turn back.

Once he is latched, keep the tummy to tummy contact using your free hand by pushing his body gently into yours.

Your baby’s hands are hugging your breast during this position.

How, When & Why to Do Breast Compression
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5. Koala hold or Upright/sitting Nursing Position

In this position, your baby is sitting upright in front of you.  Make sure to support his neck and shoulders with your hand on the same side of your used breast. The other hand is to support your breast to help him latch on properly.

Use this position

When your baby is older than 1 year

If you have a fast/strong milk ejection letdown reflex

If your baby has acid reflux (GERD: gastroesophageal reflux disease)

Or if your baby has problems in swallowing

5 Things New Moms Fear about Breastfeeding
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10 Vital Notes on Breastfeeding Positions

1. After birth, your baby must be checked from a professional health care provider (pediatrics or lactation consultant) to check if there are any anomalies within his mouth like tongue tie or cleft palate.  In such conditions, you would be guided to implement special precautions in different location positions.

2. Pick the quietest and the most comfortable room in your house before breastfeeding initiation.  Relaxation has a positive effect on the breast milk supply.

3. Apply breast massage before latching to enhance the blood circulation within your mammary glands (breast milk factories).

4. Before each latching and within any nursing position, ensure that your baby is widely opening his mouth before breast insertion. This wide mouth opening looks like he is yawning. Once he does, take the opportunity and insert your nipple deeply into his mouth.

5. It is highly recommended to shift between different nursing positions until both of you are satisfied.

6. Each situation has its own position as we mentioned earlier, and don’t forget that your baby has its own preferences regarding the nursing positions. Keep watching your baby while breastfeeding to understand his own language.

7. Always support your head, neck, and shoulders using pillows to avoid back pain.  And remember that any type of pain would put you under stress which decreases your milk supply.

8. During breastfeeding, make sure your baby’s nose is free and you can pass one finger between his nose and your breast. It is a healthy sign of good latching.

9. Another healthy sign of good breastfeeding position is when your baby’s chin is immersed in your breast.

10. Burping your baby after each feeding would enhance your breast milk supply. By doing that, you move out the entrapped gases and air in your baby’s stomach which means less colic and more breast milk instead.

How to Ensure Successful breastfeeding with postpartum depression
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Signs that you are using a suitable nursing position:

Your baby is gaining weight properly

No sustained breast/nipple pain after each feeding (mild pain is accepted).

No milk leakage during feeding which guarantees tight seal between his mouth and your breast.

You can hear the swallowing sound during latching.

Your nipple after feeding is round with the same dark brown color.


I hope you enjoyed this very informative guest post from www.breastfeedo.com!  Make sure to check out their website for more great infographics and visual tutorials.  And don’t forget to follow Breastfeedo on Pinterest!
Find more breastfeeding posts and resources HERE.

For more breastfeeding help, enroll in Milkology 

Milkology
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Milkology is a 90 minute online breastfeeding class run by certified lactation specialist, Stacy Stewart.  For less than $20, you can get some amazing tips for breastfeeding success – with a money back guarantee! 


5 Basic Breastfeeding Products All New Moms Need

There are millions of baby related products out there, but when it comes to breastfeeding, all you really need is a good milk supply and a hungry baby.

I compiled a list of my favorite breastfeeding products because, while I could have still done it without them, they all provided me with one important thing – C O M F O R T!  And being comfortable while breastfeeding is so important to developing that good milk supply.

5 Basic Breastfeeding Products All New Moms Need
*This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.  Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.
5 Basic Breastfeeding Products All New Moms Need

1. Boomerang Nursing Pillow

Jolly Jumper Boomerang Nursing Pillow
I received this Jolly Jumper Boomerang Nursing Pillow as a gift at my baby shower and it has become a staple in my house.  It is so much more than just a breastfeeding pillow…

During pregnancy, it was the perfect shape to both support my stomach and tuck between my legs while sleeping.  The boomerang shape was also perfect to tuck behind me in bed for extra support while sitting upright.

I loved it for breastfeeding because it was so versatile.  I could fold it half if I needed firm support under just one arm, or lay it across my lap.

The little fold at the end of the pillow case acted as a pocket – perfect for stashing washcloths and nursing pads (ok, let’s be honest, for my cell phone).

The shape was just right for propping baby up at any age.  Whether I laid baby on their back or tummy, I found that the “V” shape was better for supporting them than the “U” shaped pillows and I could easily bring the sides in for more security.

It’s so soft!  This may be a disadvantage to some who are looking for firmer support in a nursing pillow but I loved how flexible it was compared to other ones.

I stopped breastfeeding a long time ago, but this pillow is still my favorite one to have around the house – specifically for cuddling up on the couch or propping myself up in bed.  (It’s recently come in very handy during my battle with chronic pain.)


2. Medela Breast Pump

Medela Swing Single Breast Pump
Like many first time moms, I didn’t buy a breast pump before the baby was born because I wasn’t sure if I’d even be able to breastfeed.

After my first child was born, I inherited a brand new Medela Swing breast pump from a friend.  Since I had never used a breast pump before, I thought it was fantastic – but I didn’t have anything to compare it to.

So when I was pregnant with my second child, I stupidly sold my Medela Swing and “upgraded” to a fancy double electric pump because I assumed that two was better than one. BIG MISTAKE! It had no where NEAR the sucking capacity of the Medela…

Medela Harmony

I went back to the basics with the third one. Since none of my kids were big fans of bottles and I wasn’t going back to work – my pumping requirements were very minimal.  This time I chose the Medela Harmony manual pump.

My favorite feature was the ability to stimulate the nipple with the pump to initiate a let down.  This is super important when your nipples aren’t as sensitive anymore (i.e. after breastfeeding three kids).  I also found that I could pump more milk simply by being able to manually control the rhythm of the suction.

The Medela Harmony is a great little breast pump for days when you’re away from baby or feeling extra engorged.  It’s perfect for traveling, easy to clean and is a no-fuss solution.  The Medela Swing is a better option for more regular pumping.


3. Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads

Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads
I had an excess milk supply and an overactive let down reflex which meant that I leaked milk A LOT.  

Because of that, I tried SO MANY different brands and types of nursing pads before deciding that these Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads were beyond compare.

They are SUPER absorbent.  They resembled a full diaper when they were soaked, but they didn’t leak no matter how much milk spilled into them. Like a sanitary napkin for your boobs.

They have a sticker on the back so they stay in place! So simple, but so important.

You can’t see them through your bra.  They’re not bulky or “papery” and they don’t have weird lines or patterns on them.

They are super comfortable.  Even with raw, sore nipples.

They’re individually wrapped.  Not in pairs which is great because I often had to change just one at a time.  They’re also easy to throw in the diaper bag, purse, gym bag, even small enough to keep in your pocket.

They usually included a free gift (sample) in the box like breast milk collection bags, or individual packets of baby wipes.


4. Tank Tops with a Built-In Shelf Bra

Women's Camisole Built-in Shelf Bra Adjustable Spaghetti Straps Tank Top Pack
Amazon.com
I bought way too many nursing bras.  I thought I was going to need them all but what I wore almost every day while I was breastfeeding is one of these tank tops with the built in shelf bras.

If you’re going to buy them, buy them in bulk because you’re going to get milk and baby spit up on them, and you’re eventually going to have to do laundry, but you’re going to want to put another one on right away.

The built in shelf bra is important because you need the support and also something to hold your nursing pads in place (those stickers can’t do it all).

They’re comfortable enough to sleep in.  In fact, I think there was barely a moment when I wasn’t wearing one of these tank tops during my breastfeeding years.

I wore them as a base layer under all my other shirts so that when I had to nurse in public I just pulled up the top shirt, and then pulled the tank top down to expose the nipple.  All that was visible between the two shirts was a small opening (covered by baby’s head anyway) and I didn’t have to fuss with an annoying nursing cover.  Not that I cared, but most people couldn’t even tell I was nursing.


5. Breast Shells

Philips AVENT Comfort Breast Shells Set
Philips Avent Breast Shells
No one even told me these existed, I found them by accident…

When I breastfed for the first time – my nipples felt like they were on fire.  I expected some pain with breastfeeding, but it turned out that I had a cracked nipple and developed mastitis. My nipples hurt so badly that merely a shirt or bra touching them was enough to make me wince in pain.

So I went on the hunt for something to help.  I was looking at nipple shields which I didn’t buy but found these Philips AVENT Comfort Breast Shells instead and they ended up saving my nipples and ultimately, my breastfeeding relationship.

Basically they are a protective dome for your sore nipple. There is a soft silicone part that is shaped like a donut and goes against your breast.  Then the hard plastic cup shields your nipple from chafing or being hit or poked by accident.

They are comfortable enough to wear to bed they are designed to collect any breastmilk that leaks out.  So while you’re nursing, you can wear it on the opposite breast to collect and save that precious liquid gold.  

If you’re extremely engorged they can be a bit painful to wear.  But they will greatly help to reduce flat nipples and even release a bit of pressure from engorgement.  Pop them in the fridge when you’re not using them and the cooling sensation will also give you relief from engorgement! 

How, When & Why to Use the Breast Compression Technique while Breastfeeding
Breast Compression

Breastfeeding Products

For more breastfeeding help, check out Milkology 

Milkology Online Breastfeeding Courses

Milkology is a 90 minute online breastfeeding class run by certified lactation specialist, Stacy Stewart.  For less than $20, you can get some amazing tips for breastfeeding success – with a money back guarantee!


How, When & Why to do Breast Compression

Breast compression is the underdog of breast feeding techniques. 

Emphasis is rarely put on the importance of breast compression in those first few weeks after the milk comes in.  It sounds self explanatory, right?  You just squeeze your breast, what’s so hard about that?  I did breast compression with my first.  And my second…   I think? 

The fact that I can’t even remember doing them means that they weren’t important to me back then.  After learning how to do them properly with my third one, and learning all the reasons why and when, I realized that I could have saved myself a lot of trouble if I had known about this the first time.  And the second.

Learn more about how to do this important breastfeeding technique!
How, When & Why to Do Breast Compression
*This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.

HOW

Step 1: Get your baby latched on properly.

latch-infographic
I like this infographic from The Milk Memoirs 

After baby starts sucking you may FEEL your milk let down (not all women can feel it) and/or SEE your baby’s sucking start to become longer and slower.  

[Related Reading: D-MER: When Breastfeeding Makes You Feel Sad]

Step 2: Grasp your breast with whichever hand feels more comfortable. 

Some might prefer to grasp with the hand closest to the breast, others might be more comfortable reaching across their body.  This will also depend on what position you are holding your baby in to nurse.  You can switch it up throughout the feeding.

Step 3: Hold your thumb on top of the breast and the other four fingers on the bottom of the breast. 

Your hand will form a letter “C” (it helps to imagine you’re holding your breast like a cheeseburger).  Try to keep your hand close to your chest.  You want to stay as far back from the nipple as possible so you don’t affect baby’s latch.  It’s not as effective to squeeze the breast from the sides or to use a “scissor” hold.

Step 4: Squeeze as hard as you can handle.  It shouldn’t hurt, but you want to use firm pressure, especially if your breasts are engorged.

Do not move your fingers around or slide them towards the nipple.  Try not to rub or massage the breast as this can cause irritation on the skin.  If you have extremely full breasts, whether it’s the first morning feed or when your milk first comes in, you may feel “lumps” of milk.  Concentrate on putting pressure on those spots first.

clogged milk duct
Mom Smart Not Hard | momsmartnothard.com

Step 5: Squeeze one spot for roughly 10 seconds (or as long as baby continues to suck) and then release.

You will notice baby take longer, bigger gulps, some milk might even leak out from the corners of their mouth.  That section of the breast will start to soften. Baby may temporarily stop sucking after a few big gulps to rest.

Step 6: Wait for baby to start sucking and compress the breast again.

You can try moving your fingers onto a different spot or switching hands to access the other side of the breast.


WHEN and WHY

DO NOT do them before your milk comes in.  I mean, you can, but there’s no point.

Do them when your milk comes in.  You will have a lot of it and your newborn baby will get tired of sucking before they get to that hind milk.

Do them when your breasts are really full.  Usually in the morning or if you’ve been away from baby and haven’t fed or pumped in a while.   It’s a great way to empty out full and sore breasts very quickly and make sure that baby is getting to the hind milk before they get too full.

Turn Up The Heat breast pads
TheDandelionShoppeUS on Etsy

The Turn Up The Heat breast pads by TheDandelionShoppeUS on Etsy are perfect for warm relief during engorgement and also cold relief to treat soreness. They have a removable machine washable cover and I love the hole in the middle to avoid irritating sore nipples!

Do them when your breasts are not full.  Doing compression during feeds even when your breasts feel empty will help drain the milk glands completely which will increase your milk supply.

Do them when you have a clogged milk duct. This is when one of those “milk lumps” gets stuck and doesn’t want to empty.  Put a warm wet washcloth on top of the breast first and then apply lots of pressure to that stuck lump while you nurse.

[Related Reading: How to Clear a Clogged Milk Duct and Prevent Mastitis from Mom Smart Not Hard]

Do them while pumping. Breast pumps are not as efficient at emptying a breast  or getting enough hind milk.  A good example of this is to compare a bottle of pumped milk while doing compression vs. without.  You will see a higher fat content in the bottle pumped with compression.

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Do them when you have incredibly sore nipples.  Baby won’t have to suck as hard to get enough milk (giving your nipples a bit of relief) and it will also speed up the length of the feeding.

Do them when baby falls asleep at the breast and/or stops sucking.  Breast compression will either make baby start drinking some more, or spit out the nipple if they are full.

Do them when baby cluster feeds.  The hind milk will help baby to feel fuller for longer and can reduce the amount of time you spend feeding.

[Related Reading: A Complete Guide to Cluster Feeding by Mom Smart Not Hard]

Do them during night time feedings or dream feeds.  Babies are quite drowsy in the middle of the night and may not suck with the “power” that they use during the day.  Doing breast compression can help baby get milk more efficiently so that everyone can go back to bed.

Do them if your baby has greenish-colored poops.  The greenish color could be because they’re not getting enough hind milk.

Do them if your baby gets a slight diaper rash.  Not enough hind milk can change the consistency of baby’s poops and cause their bums to get red.

How to Ensure Successful breastfeeding with postpartum depression
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There are so many benefits to using breast compression!

The biggest WHY is to get baby the hind milk that has a higher fat content.  It will help them to gain weight faster and stay full longer.

I know that breast compression is usually only suggested in the first couple months – during the time when breastfeeding is still trying to become well established.  But I became SO obsessed with doing them because I was able to see the benefits in my baby right away that I continued to do them whenever I felt it was necessary.

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How, When & Why to Use the Breast Compression Technique while Breastfeeding How, When & Why to Do Breast Compression How, When & Why to Do Breast Compression

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

The most detailed information specifically about breast compression is by Dr. Jack Newman on the International Breastfeeding Center website (IBConline).


Another good site to check out for more visual aids is Breastfeeding.Support it’s run by IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) Philippa Pearson-Glaze and the site has a ton of breastfeeding articles, tips and advice with some great pictures.


Milkology is a 90 minute online breastfeeding class run by certified lactation specialist, Stacy Stewart.  For less than $20, you can get some amazing tips for breastfeeding success – with a money back guarantee! 


A great breastfeeding resource is the Breastfeeding Handbook from Mom Smart Not Hard.   Download, print and put it into a binder to have access to everything you could possibly need to know about breastfeeding.


A lot of women who experience breast pain during pregnancy might have concerns about breastfeeding and engorgement.  Learn more about breast pain during pregnancy in this article from Mom Loves Best.  


This awesome article from Positive Health Wellness has tons of information about breast changes during pregnancy.

check it out!
Benefits of Breast Compression
How to Use the Breast Compression Technique How to use the Breast Compression Technique How, When & Why to Use the Breast Compression Technique while Breastfeeding