Deal With Any Depression
An estimated 1 in 10 women gets postpartum depression (PPD), and many of them don't even realize they have it. PPD interferes with your ability to eat, drink, and rest when you need it most. And if you can't take care of yourself, making enough milk and tending to a newborn can be Herculean tasks. If you suffer from PPD, you might feel as if you're in a haze; you're so sad and your judgment is so off that you can't begin to keep track of when you last fed the baby. The good news is that breastfeeding (when it's going well) can buoy a mother's mood: Rates of PPD tend to be lower in women who breastfeed. Why? It helps prevent some of the seismic hormonal shifts that may be linked with PPD.
Smart Steps Be aware of signs like constantly feeling hopeless and lost. If you suspect that you're depressed, talk to your OB and make a treatment plan. It could involve postnatal counseling, watchful waiting, or taking an antidepressant that's safe for nursing moms and babies. Make sure to connect with friends and family. Isolation, especially being alone with a tiny baby, can challenge even the strongest psyche. If you stay in touch, pals will notice if things are heading south. With some solid information, resources, and support, you'll be a breastfeeding champ!
Originally published in the October 2012 issue of American Baby magazine.