Postpartum Mental Health

November 5, 2010

First of all, I entitled this post ‘Postpartum Mental Health’ as I get tired of only hearing about postpartum depression. There is a wide range of perinatal mental health issues that are not only overlooked, but sometimes unknown to a new mom. A mother who is suffering from postpartum anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder might not realize that she may be dealing with a hormone-related temporary issue.

I have been thinking about this subject a lot lately as I have been asked to do a presentation for work and I have also been inspired by a great article in the Sept-Oct 2010 issue of Mothering magazine entitled ‘Breastfeeding Beats the Blues,” by Kathleen A. Kendall Tackett.

After doing a limited amount of research I came across some information that I wanted to share:

“A recent review of 49 studies found that rates of depression are lower in breastfeeding mothers than in their non-breastfeeding counterparts, and that formula feeding is a risk factor for depression.” ~Kathleen A. Kendall-Tackett (bibliography of study found in Mothering magazine)

Breastfeeding can aid in recovery from PPD and protect the bond between mamas & babes as it is an established reason for mom to continue to bond, connect with, look at, and touch her baby. This is vital not only for bonding and mental health, but also social-emotional development.

Three different studies in the latest issue (Sept-Oct 2010) of Mothering magazine have revealed that breastfeeding mothers get more sleep than formula feeding mothers and that quantity of sleep contributes to their positive mental health.
Co-Sleeping can be a way to get plenty of rest while breastfeeding (I recommend the book Sleeping With Your Baby by James McKenna, PhD)

Breastfeeding is a way for a new mom to feel validated as she continues to care for her child and meet their most important needs even when she is feeling down.

Postpartum Support International has a good overview on the different types of perinatal mood disorders. http://www.postpartum.net/Get-the-Facts.aspx

There are a variety of ways to offer support to a breastfeeding mother who might be suffering from postpartum depression or a similar illness. Often it is a good idea for 1-2 of mom’s support team to be aware of the symptoms of perinatal mood disorders so that they can assist the mother with getting any help that she needs.

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