Post-Natal Depression and Breastfeeding

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As always, Lactation Consultant Sioned Hilton, is here always here to answer your questions. Today she shares some facts on post-natal depression and breastfeeding.

Question:

I struggled with post-natal depression with my first baby and managed to breastfeed for only a couple of weeks. I am now expecting my second baby and I’m worried how breastfeeding will be affected again, if PND reoccurs? Should I plan to express instead so baby can still have my milk?

Answer:

Post-natal Depression can have an impact on parenting including breastfeeding and expressing. It can take a little time to diagnose, but this time around it will be a lot better as your family and friends are more knowledgeable of the condition and can pick up on the signs/symptoms much earlier. The earlier you seek the necessary help and support the better. However, it’s important to remember that there is no link to suggest that just because you experienced PND before, that you will suffer from it again.

Something to bear in mind is that breastfeeding is not only fantastic for baby and mum scientifically, but it can also minimise PND. The hormone oxytocin is released during breastfeeding to help with milk letdown, but it is also known to be ‘the love and happy’ hormone. This hormone rises during labour to enable you to experience that intimacy with your new baby at birth. That said, breastfeeding can be challenging and many mums can experience low moods, feelings of inadequacy etc. This is absolutely not the fault of mums – simply a part of the jigsaw not quite fitting and a signal to seek further help and support.

Some things to consider:

  • Take each day at a time
  • Have realistic expectations – Breastfeeding isn’t easy, no two feeding journeys are the same and you may experience challenges, especially while getting nursing established
  • Discuss your apprehension and fears with your midwife during pregnancy so they can offer personalised advice and help put your mind at rest
  • Find your local Breastfeeding Support Group so you can meet the team and some local mums. You will find this extremely helpful if you have any questions, want extra support once baby has arrived etc.
  • Keep the details of your local Breastfeeding Support Group, national helplines and your Health Visitor/Midwife’s details on the fridge so you can easily contact them for help if you have any questions
  • Expressing can be a good support, creating a back-up and store of breast milk. However, I would advise waiting until about weeks 3-4, when you have breastfeeding established and your milk supply is consistent

For more information please see our blog post on coping with post-natal depression.

PANDAS is a helpful support group for expecting and new mothers to get advice with pre and postnatal depression.  You can contact the Helpline here 0843 28 98 401 to speak with a specialist volunteer who can offer advice and support from 9am-8pm.

If you require urgent help call 999 for urgent medical assistance