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Pregnancy, Postpartum Depression And Breastfeeding.

Updated on February 3, 2016

Any woman who has just given birth, can suffer from a postpartum depression without apparent cause. The sudden fall of the hormones that the woman body experiences after childbirth is responsible for postpartum depression. Some mixed feelings with women living far as a new mom, including anxiety, sadness, fatigue and nervousness can break the development of mother-child bond , and negatively affect the growth of newborn baby.

Postpartum Challenges

The birth of a baby is generally considered to be an event that brings great happiness.

However, the beginning of life as a parent can create feelings that are far from the joy and happiness. Some experts say that between 50 and 70% of women are affected by some degree of depression after childbirth. You may experience sadness, fatigue and anxiety. This may be due in part to hormonal changes that occur after childbirth. They can also be the result of the reality to care for a helpless baby, including sleep deprivation and loss of control over your life. For most women, this "sad state" remains only for a time. After that she emerges from the postpartum perfectly being able to meet each and every demands placed on motherhood stage.

Some women, however, are involved in a relentless and inexplicable sadness. They may be experiencing what is known as postpartum depression. Symptoms include feelings of helplessness, mood swings, anxiety, sleeplessness and lack of interest in life.These feelings do not go away, remain for weeks and the mother seems unable to help.

Postpartum depression is just one of several mood disorders that can occur after the birth of a child. "Affective disorder" is a term that psychiatrists and psychologists use to describe problems associated with depression, anxiety and fear. It can also be used to describe inappropriate feelings of euphoria that fall under the category of "mania". As the science has been discovering more about the brain and its functioning, the mental health professionals and the general public have come to the conclusion that the depression and pressure are the results of having a weak character or lack of will. Depression and other mood disorders are caused by brain physical factors interacting with the experiences of a person.

What elements can contribute to postpartum depression?

Generally, women who have suffered from the following factors tend to suffer postpartum depression:
• If the baby was hospitalized and, therefore, separated from his mother for a while
• If you have had a complicated delivery
• If you have trouble feeding your baby during the first attempts
• If you do not have support of a partner and / or family
• If the baby tends to mourn excessively during the first days at home
• If the mother is confused about how to raise the baby

Overcoming Difficulties

Research shows that a woman with depression has difficult experience to be a good mother to her baby. The child's brain develops its various networks of nerve and information in response to the myriad of everyday interactions between mother and child connections. Babies learn social behavior, language and much more maintaining with eye contacting the mother's facial animated expressions, vocal and other responses. The depressed mother decides to quit breastfeeding, at the same time depriving herself of the joy and happiness it brings to feed a baby .

For these reasons it is important to treat post-partum depression and other mood disorders quickly as the welfare of both mother and baby is at stake.

Factors Of Postpartum Depression Affecting Mother

Chest pain. After the sudden weaning, most women experience breast swelling, which can carry risks of mastitis and abscess. Thus, the mother stops breastfeeding and has to take steps to relieve swelling. For this, the acquisition of a breast milk or appropriate learning techniques of manual removal are necessary to use. Certain drugs used in the treatment of mental diseases may present a galactogogue effect, for instance, inducing breast to produce more milk, with the concomitant intensification of pain, swelling and slowing down the process of producing milk.

Hormonal changes. The sudden weaning brings sudden changes in maternal estrogen, progesterone and prolactin. These hormonal changes can induce mood changes in the mother, and even an exacerbation of depressive illness. The mood of the nursing mother is positively affected by the levels of oxytocin released into the bloodstream every time she breastfeeds her child.

Expenses. The cost of weaning not only entails additional costs of purchasing infant formula milk and bottles, but also the cost of diseases that occur more frequently in the baby. This financial burden may fall on a couple.

Return to fertility. The possibility of another pregnancy is another important issue for a family that is already in an overwhelming situation. Weaning baby brings back fertility, which the mother should consider using contraception, with the additional costs that this entails. In those families who choose not to use these methods, amenorrhea caused by breastfeeding provides an important mechanism for contraception.

Interruption of the bonding. It is not uncommon for mothers affected by depressive illnesses to be unable to play with their children, hug them, etc. When the child is breastfed, it ensures certain period of maternal contact several times a day. If the bottle becomes an option to feed the child, the mother may not spend as much time enjoying her child.

Feelings of helplessness. In general, mothers with affective disorders feel out of control, helpless and hopeless. An overwhelmed mothers choice is not to breastfeed. However, breastfeeding is one of the factors that can help a mother to feel good about herself and motherhood.

Factors Affecting The Baby

The smaller the baby, the greater the risk of allergies and other nutritional problems. Substituting breast milk for infant milk powder poses enormous risks to the baby's health; among them are the increased risk of allergies, type I diabetes obesity and Crohn's disease.

Incidence of serious and more frequent diseases. Mother breastfeeding protects the baby from infectious diseases. Children with infant milk powder get colds and suffer from ear infections, diarrhea and intestinal discomfort more frequently than those who are breastfed. Weaning not only poses risks to children's health, but also creates new challenges for parents: a sick baby needs more attention and time naturally.

Problem on the mother-child bond. The separation of mother and child for long periods of time can cause long-term effects. Research shows clearly that there is a desperate need for mothers and babies are together for normal growth and development of infants. There is evidence that when this interaction breaks a lifelong depression can form in the child. A study of rat pups that were weaned and separated from their mothers for a period of 24 hours in the neonatal stage showed a rise in the level of hormones related to stress and interruption of hypothalamic pituitary-adrenal, which helps regulate mood. The grief felt by a baby as a result of sudden weaning is a real feeling that should not be ignored or minimized by health professionals or any substitute caregiver.

In addition, as many experts believe there is a genetic component to mental illness, it seems logical that the disruption of the mother-child bond inherent to sudden weaning can predispose the infant to future affective disorders.

Visiting A Specialist Is The Best Solution

Care of mothers having postpartum mood disorders presents special challenges to health professionals, including those related to mental health. The health professionals who treat mental illness include psychiatrists and other physicians with the ability to prescribe antidepressant medication, and psychologists, counselors and therapists, who perform psychotherapy. For the treatment of a mother with her baby, these professionals have two patients to worry about instead of one - a mother and a baby. These are two units that are to be considered as one. Thus, treatment prescribed to the mother should go to the benefit of both mother and child.

The treatment of postpartum depression and other affective disorders varies according to individual needs. In many cases, therapy is a very effective dialogue. A psychotherapist can help a mother to replace false messages that she is given ("I'm the worst mother in the world") by a more realistic self-assessment and situation. This type of therapy is known as cognitive behavioral therapy; the goal to be achieved is to help people recognize false beliefs about the world and themselves and learn to think differently. Counseling can also help individuals to build better systems to support themselves and find ways to meet their own needs. In its turn, treating depression through medication can provide excellent alleviation of symptoms in a relatively short time. However, the exclusive use of medication to treat postpartum depression may be unwise. Medication can make the individual better after a few weeks, but therapy could help make necessary changes in its life that would result in long-term well-being.

Breastfeed or Not During Postpartum Depression?

In many situations it is possible for the mother to continue breastfeeding her baby while being treated for postpartum depression or other mood disorders. Support and practical assistance of the most beloved is crucial to achieve a positive outcome. Many mothers in a state of depression experience feelings of inadequacy and marginalization. What's more, it is possible that those caregivers who handled the mother to accept a treatment plan does not recognize how it is important to breastfeed and care for the child. It sometimes comes from the feeling of fear of the loved ones when they see that the mother is experiencing a very difficult time. However, despite her illness, the mother is often quite capable of making decisions.

Moreover, it is necessary to point out the importance of discussing with family members the priority of breastfeeding before there is a crisis (of any kind!). Mothers should share with their feelings with partners and family members about her relationship with the baby, goals and desires about breastfeeding and the hopes they have for the future. Perhaps in the event that family and friends understand the importance of breastfeeding through the eyes of the mother, there will be more chances not to suggest weaning as the first resource to turn. With this knowledge in mind, these individuals will find themselves better equipped to advocate for nursing a couple in crisis.

The psychiatrist should be willing to explore treatment options that allow the mother to continue breastfeeding, which could lead the search for information about the effect of various drugs on lactation and infant. It is important to know that many of the drugs used today to treat such problems are compatible with breastfeeding. In other cases substituting one drug for another is safer and effective even possible.

When the doctor chooses a medication, it is considering other factors besides the presence in breast milk. Medication that is detrimental to the child or not will depend on the amount of it gets into milk, the age of the child and how much breastfeeding is done. The risks that the baby gets a small amount of medication through breast milk should be contrasted with the risks associated with feeding infant milk powder. While being administered certain medications, it is advisable to follow their levels in the baby's blood and do not allow the adverse reaction to occur.

A good therapist should be willing to listen and understand the specific needs of the family, including the mother the value deposited in her nursing relationship. These professionals would be willing to talk to other health professionals (with the permission of the mother). Also take into account the feelings of the mother about breastfeeding relationship with her baby and, if possible, not only to support the decision of the mother, but also plead her face other health professionals, rather than advise the weaning.

In case of an inevitable hospitalization, the family could arrange to bring the baby to her mother on a regular basis, in addition to making the necessary arrangements for a breast pump and help with the use of it.

Fortunately, there is an effective treatment for postpartum depression and other mood disorders. These conditions no longer carry the stigma of yesteryear and treatment need not further compromise the bond between mother and infant. When the mother, her partner, family and health professionals work together, they can find solutions that will allow the mother to continue breastfeeding her baby while recovering from the disease. Both she and her baby will benefit in this situation.


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