According to a United Kingdom study, women who quit breastfeeding due to pain are more likely to suffer from postpartum depression compared to other mothers who stop breastfeeding for different reasons.
Postpartum depression is characterized by a range of physical and emotional changes experienced by a new mother. Many new mothers experience what is commonly referred to as “postpartum baby blues”. These mild changes include difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, excessive fatigue, decreased libido, and frequent mood changes.
The symptoms of postpartum depression are more severe and may include the following: major depression, loss of pleasure, feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, thoughts of death or suicide or thoughts of harming someone else. So what would make mothers who quit breastfeeding due to pain more susceptible to this condition? In an interview with the Parent Herald, lead author Amy Brown of Swansea University in Wales says”
“Perhaps if new mums stop breastfeeding because they find it embarrassing or for lifestyle issues then they feel a personal benefit from doing so—maybe they’re ready to stop, however, if they feel they have to do it because of pain or physical difficulties then they may not be so ready and really want to continue, but feel the choice has been taken away from them. They may also worry that they’re doing it ‘wrong’ or in some way they are to blame.”
According to the study, women who quit breast feeding because of generalized pain, cracked nipples, breast infection, low milk production, and latching complications had the strongest correlation between increased risk of postpartum symptoms.
As with any study there were shortcomings with this one. Most notably, the average age of the women studied was 32—older than the average age of a new mother. Also, some researchers note that the questionnaire may not be an accurate assessment of depression. Nevertheless, the study has highlighted the major need for women to get breastfeeding support during their pregnancy and immediately following the birth of their child. New mothers must be set up for success not failure. Previous research indicates that mothers who were not previously depressed, planned to nurse their babies, and were successfully able to do so had a much lower risk of mental health issues.
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