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Women Who Can't Breastfeed Are More Likely To Deal With Postpartum Depression

While many women make the decision to breastfeed or not to breastfeed, not all women have this option. Sometimes breastfeeding is not possible based on an inability to produce milk, other new mothers may give up due to pain and infection. When a new mother is unable to nurse her baby, research has shown that she is more likely to deal with postpartum depression than those mothers who are able to nurse, or simply choose not to.

Breastfeeding is not the number one choice of every new mother, but it has certainly been proven time and again to be the best for babies over formula choices. Breastmilk offers opportunities for new mothers to share nutrients, antibodies, and nourishment with their new babies, and it also offers bonding time Studies have shown that nursing mothers produce a chemical which makes them feel love toward their babies. Mothers who are unable to nurse will still love their children, but may feel like they are missing out or failing, which can lead to the blues.

Painful Nursing

Research has shown that women who are unable to nurse are more likely to develop feelings of depression, but the study goes even deeper, pinpointing pain during nursing as an instigator for the possibility of postpartum. Postpartum can occur whether mothers breastfeed or not, and it affects many women across the world after having a new baby. Medical News Today states: “In a recent study, stopping breastfeeding due to pain or physical difficulties predicted an increased risk of postnatal depression, but stopping for other reasons, such as social reasons or embarrassment, did not. The findings highlight the importance of support for women who experience difficulties during breastfeeding.”

Unfortunately, some women may not realize that they are experiencing pain due to improperly nursing. While some babies are eager to latch right away, others must be guided and may not grasp the entirety of the nipple on the first try. This can take practice for both mother and baby, but fortunately, a nurse should be able to offer support during this vulnerable time in a new mothers life.

Stacking Up The Statistics

Many nursing mothers are still able to develop postpartum depression symptoms, but statistics from recent studies prove that those who have a bad time breastfeeding are significantly more likely to develop postpartum than those who enjoy their nursing time with their child. Time.com reports on the study, saying: “Women who reported dissatisfaction with breast-feeding early on were 42% more likely to have postpartum depression two months after delivery compared with women who enjoyed breast-feeding. Mothers who initially experienced severe breast pain initially and at two weeks postpartum were twice as likely to be depressed as pain-free women.”

Postpartum is a serious depressive state which can last days, weeks, and even months. It must be watched by a doctor or family member and in some cases, non-nursing mothers may receive medicinal treatment to overcome it. Feelings of being overwhelmed, angry, resentful toward the baby, disconnected or estranged from the baby, having bad thoughts about leaving or hurting yourself or the baby, these are all associated with postpartum.

Treatments for postpartum include outreach groups, therapy sessions, and other sessions which allow for the mother to feel safe and open up about the disorder. It can affect any woman, and does not mean that there is anything wrong with her or her baby.

Monitoring Breastfeeding

To better care for new mothers and their babies during the difficult first few weeks of breast feeding, it is important that doctors and nurses screen their patients for breastfeeding trouble and monitor them closely for signs and symptoms of depression. Many women require additional encouragement and sometimes guidance when it comes to nursing for the first few times. Having the option of calling on a nurse to help once a mother has returned home from the hospital has been deemed very helpful by new mothers. Psych Central writes the following in regards to studies performed on nursing mothers: “The finding indicated that mothers with breastfeeding difficulties should be screened for depression and referred to counseling when depression is confirmed.”

Due to the high risk of postpartum depression in new mothers, some studies are concluding that doctors may want to keep their patients longer at the hospital, when possible, to determine that she is not harmful to herself or her child before she returns home. Postpartum places many new mothers into a mind frame that is completely unlike their own and it can be very unsettling. This is especially important for single mothers who have no partner at home to help share the load. In two parent families, doctors may pass this responsibility over to the father to continue keeping a watchful eye in the home atmosphere.

Reporting Postpartum

Most women are aware of the possibility of postpartum and will report feeling anxious, scared, sad, or angry to their family doctor if these emotions are apparent. Some are ashamed by these feelings and may not speak up. It is very important that you are always completely honest with your physician regarding the emotional state you are in following childbirth. It makes it easier for your doctor to help you and your child get back into a safe and healthy place.

Due to the link between negative breastfeeding experience and postpartum, it has become even more important for medical professionals to assist during this transition, and help new mothers who cannot nurse to understand that it is not her fault.

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