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.

.

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 ReflexD-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.

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

.

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.

How, When & Why to Do Breast Compression
.

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.

[Related Reading: How, When, and Why to Do Breast Compression]

.
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/

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.  Online counseling is available through BetterHelp.com.

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. 

Online Therapy
.

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.

.

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

How, When & Why to do Breast Compression

Breast compression is the underdog of breast feeding techniques.  WHEN to do them and WHY they can help are just as important as HOW to do them.

*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, When & Why to Do Breast Compression How, When & Why to Do Breast Compression

How, When & Why to Do Breast Compression

How, When & Why to Do Breast Compression


In a previous post, I praised an amazing small town nurse who gave me so much information on breastfeeding.  I promise that I will, eventually, get ALL of that knowledge out of my head and onto this website  but I want to start with something that was a huge contributor to my breastfeeding success.

.

Breast Compression

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.

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.  


bf-infographic
Pin it!
Pin It!

HOW

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.

Some women suffer from a condition known as D-MER (Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex) which causes disturbing feelings when their milk lets down.

.

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

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.

Your thumb will be on top and the other four fingers will remain 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.

Now 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.

Don’t 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 – focus on those spots first (sometimes they can be as far back as your armpit).

clogged milk duct
Mom Smart Not Hard | momsmartnothard.com

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.

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.

The Ultimate Guide to Breastfeeding Positions
Find a position that works for you

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.

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. (I talk about breastfeeding at bedtime in my two part sleep training guide).

Sleep Training Guide Part 2: The Trick to Sleep Training
.

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-coloured 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.


There are so many benefits to using breast compression!

How, When & Why to Do Breast Compression
Pin It!

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.


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Prior to starting this blog, I shared my tip about breast compression with anyone who seemed to be struggling with something it could fix.  I had a hard time trying to find a resource that stressed the importance of them.

The best online information about breast compression is from Dr. Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC  of Breastfeedinginc.ca.  [I’ve noticed quite a few other blogs or websites share his exact article or excerpts from it and it’s great information but it’s very… medical.]  

You can purchase his book Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding.

Breast Compression
Indigo.ca

Click here to access a library of videos demonstrating the breast compression technique and proper latching techniques at Breastfeedinginc.ca


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.


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

check it out!

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