Postnatal Depression (PND) (also known as Postpartum Depression) is an illness. The Royal College of Psychiatry (RCPsych) states the following:
Postnatal Depression is a depressive illness which affects between 10 to 15 in every 100 women having a baby. The symptoms are similar to those in depression at other times. These include low mood and other symptoms lasting at least two weeks. Depending on the severity, you may struggle to look after yourself and your baby. You may find simple tasks difficult to manage.
Sometimes there is an obvious reason for PND, but not always. You may feel distressed, or guilty for feeling like this, as you expected to be happy about having a baby. However, PND can happen to anyone and it is not your fault.
For many of our supporters, their PND has been triggered from the result of their feeding journey and a stage we refer to as Breastfeeding Grief. We recommend any mother who has symptoms of PND to seek professional medical advice and support.
We describe Breastfeeding Grief as feelings of sadness and loss at the inability to breastfeed. Due to the many biological and/or psychological reasons why a mother is unable to breastfeed, a sense of resentment towards her body can develop. The heavy focus on being unable or unsuccessful in breastfeeding can create detachment between mother and baby. Sufferers have described how they began to doubt their competence as a mother, have anger and jealously towards successful breastfeeders and even question their gender identity (particularly in cases were breastmilk was not produced). The sorrow and unhappiness can occur at any stage of the feeding journey for a mother and can be brief or prolonged. Prolonged Breastfeeding Grief could easily be classified as PND, particularly if it becomes severe enough to affect daily activities. Please be aware that, like with many mental health illnesses, Breastfeeding Grief can often go unnoticed by others due to the mother suppressing or hiding her emotions. Guilt, shame and societal pressures often contribute to mothers internalising their grief.
A writer for BetterHelp discovered our website and proposed working in alliance with the aim to provide support for mothers in need. BetterHelp are an online counselling service; “making professional counselling accessible, affordable, convenient – so anyone who struggles with life’s challenges can get help, anytime, anywhere.”
As mothers who experienced Breastfeeding Grief expressed that they “appeared to be coping, when inside they were in turmoil” we felt this infographic on ‘High Functioning Depression’ was a valuable resource for our community.
Signs sound familiar in yourself or a loved one? We encourage you to talk to someone. Whether it within our network, BetterHelp, a GP or a therapist. There is no shame in admitting you need help and support and we our proud to offer a safe space for bottle-feeding parents and breastfeeding grief sufferers to connect, share stories and eventually, gain confidence and pride in their method of feeding.
Further information on depression can be found https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/depression/
It is important to us that we mentioned that is in NOT a sponsored article. We simply want all mothers to be ok.