Breastfeeding MAY Protect Against PPD...


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"I clearly remember the moment our obstetrician said we had no choice but to go to an emergency caesarian. As if trying to negotiate terms, I asked two questions: can my doula take photos in the operating room and will I still be able to breastfeed?

“Of course you’ll be able to breastfeed”, my midwife reassured me, while promising to do her best on the photo front.

Following our son’s birth I spent 68 hours in the hospital. I discovered that’s enough time for eight nursing shifts and approximately eight unique opinions on the correct way to breastfeed. Each nurse told me I was doing it wrong. Their way was the ONLY way.

Hold him like a football. Squash your breast between your fingers like a sandwich. Point your nipple towards the ceiling. Express milk first so he can smell it. Don’t express any milk – you’ll waste it!

In spite of feeling prepared when I was pregnant, faced with my new reality I felt as though I would never master breastfeeding. I was terrified I’d let me baby down. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to have a trio of experienced midwives who casually and confidently reassured me that no matter how impossible things felt in those early days that I could push through it.

Still, I craved more support.

I yearned for someone to tell me what lies beyond what I could see? What are the rewards of pushing my body further than it wants to go? How will I push through the pain? The tears? How will I resist the pressure to give up when everyone is telling me its time to stop?

This is the reason I feel compelled to write about breastfeeding, because I felt incredibly alone in those early days and nights. I want to share my rare, much loved and off-the-beaten-trail-map in hopes it may help others. To inspire and embolden those who have come to a fork in their own trail and don’t know which direction is right for them.

But, there are a group of mothers I didn’t recognize until recently.

They’re at the metaphorical trailhead, fully aware of the rewards the adventure promises. They’ve broken in their hiking boots but something is stopping them from setting off. As they witness seasoned hikers cheerleading beginners on they feel a deep sense of loss. And when those of us on the journey can’t help but enthusiastically share our unfiltered experiences it feels like salt being rubbed in a tender wound.

This feeling is familiar for too many mothers; for women who yearn to breastfeed but can’t for one reason or another.

Experiencing a sense of mourning over unfulfilled expectations at a time when maternal hormones are at an all time high sends fragile new mothers on a dangerous emotional rollercoaster. While I’m acutely aware of the undeniable biological benefits of breastfeeding, there is nothing more important to a child’s health and happiness than a happy and healthy mother.

Suicide as a sequelae to postpartum depression (PPD) is the number one killer of new mothers. The thought of young mothers taking their own lives leaves me speechless.

Looking through the lens of my own experience, I’ve been confused by recent headlines suggesting breastfeeding may cause postnatal depression, because I always thought the opposite was true.

So, which is correct?

Like most things in life, nothing is black and white; both of these statements can be simultaneously true. Let’s dig a little deeper to find out why.


For most new mothers who are able to breastfeed research shows it offers protection against postpartum depression. How?