Overcoming Postpartum Depression
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 25, No. 3, 2008, p. 20
I want to share my experience of postpartum depression. My depression was most unexpected and I felt like "the only person who's ever been through this." I felt guilty, too. I try to share my story whenever I can because one of the most comforting things to me while in the depths of depression was to talk to other mothers who had also been through it.
I was able to breastfeed my son, Edward, a few hours after birth and things got off to a wonderful start. When Edward was two weeks old, my husband returned to work. When he left, I started feeling very anxious, disconnected, discouraged, and depressed. These feelings became so strong, I decided to move in with my parents for a while so that I could be with someone at all times. Things seemed just to get worse, and it was then that my mother suggested talking with a health care professional about medication. While I was open to the idea, my husband was strongly opposed to it, partly because I was breastfeeding. The effects of the medication I was prescribed on nursing infants are not well researched, but what research there is suggests a low transfer to milk and no side effects. After much discussion and research, I decided that using the medication while continuing to breastfeed was the best choice for me. My husband was hesitant, but ultimately supportive.
Looking back, we both agree that continuing to breastfeed was the best possible thing I could have done to help with postpartum depression. I remember days when I would only hold my son, or even look at him, when I was feeding him. Through breastfeeding, journaling, talking, and taking medication for three months, I began to heal and overcome the depression. Through it all, our breastfeeding relationship has flourished. At 21 months, we still nurse often and I enjoy a bond with my son that I had never imagined possible.