Bébé au sein de sa mère, avant le sevrage et la prise du biberon Élhée

Milk Blues: How to Overcome Post-Breastfeeding Depression

 

Maternity is often presented as an oasis of sweetness made up of love, fulfillment and benevolence. A wonderful and powerful experience between a mother and her child. However, throughout pregnancy and even after birth, each woman experiences different physical and psychological changes. Each is accompanied by multiple and sometimes ambivalent feelingsThis is the case of the known and recognized baby blues, but also of the more confidential milk blues.

First appeared in 2019 at JollyMama, the term reveals a sometimes deep malaise long before its discovery; that of the post-breastfeeding depression.

 

Milk Blues: Difficulty Ending Breastfeeding

 

Bébé qui allaite avant le sevrage et la prise du biberon Élhée

It is often said that the weaning period can be complicated for babies. That they have difficulty leaving the mother's breast and taking the bottle. That the diet becomes disordered and that a new balance can be long to find.

Conversely, there is still – too – little question of the discomfort felt by some mothers. Forced withdrawal to get back to work, decrease in lactationbaby who on his own no longer wants to breastfeed... A page turns to a new stage that can be experienced as a true separationNostalgia, sadness, sense of failure, guilt, abandonment… So many strong terms often internalized and too rarely expressed, which make all the complexity of the milk blues.

 

Physiological causes

Breastfeeding creates a very strong physical and sentimental bond between a mother and her child. After spending long months curled up in the hollow of her belly, baby is now linked to her by the breast whose lactation capacity is almost entirely stimulated by sucking. 

The shot of hormones

Breastfeeding releases endorphins, also known as feel-good hormones. At the time of weaning their rate drops and often takes morale down with it.

It is not uncommon for this transition to also coincide with the return of diaper, another delicate period when female hormones play yoyo. It is here the cessation of secretion of prolactin stimulated by sucking, which triggers a return of the rules not always expected.

Many physical changes

To breastfeed, every woman needs to eat enough (and good enough) food to produce rich, nutritious milk for her baby. Also, the weaning period can be tricky if the diet is not adapted.

 At the same time, the chest so round and generous when she fed, disappears and seems empty as she returns to her pre-pregnancy size. These physical changes consecutive to so many others can be hard to live with and send back to women a difficult image to accept. 

Loss of physical closeness with baby

Breastfeeding is synonymous with unique moments spent with your child. Skin to skin, caresses, gazes... minutes and even hours snuggled up against each other without anything existing around you... Weaning your baby means give up part of this intimacy, this exclusivity, and accept to mourn it.

moral causes

The milk blues is made up of a multitude of complex feelings specific to each woman according to her nature, her entourage and her experience.

A feeling of guilt

Throughout the weeks or months that breastfeeding lasts, putting baby to the breast is often the answer to all his problems. Crying, insomnia, fatigue, need to be reassured… breastfeeding soothes all worries. 

Also, when they stop breastfeeding, some women feel destitute and struggle to find new ways to meet their baby's needs without delay. This temporary confusion sometimes leads to a heavy feeling of guilt.

The feeling of abandoning baby

Because they no longer feed him from their breast, mothers who have breastfed sometimes feel a cruel feeling of abandonment in front of their child, like a neglect of their duty. The breastfeeding injunction - today recommended by all specialists and for all infants - can also induce great pressure, especially in the context of forced weaning.

When baby decides alone not to breastfeed anymore

One day he takes the breast and the next day he categorically refuses to go back to it. He even cries when drinking your milk. Baby seems to have decided to wean and you can't help it. Its opposition can be categorical and definitive. You have to face the facts, the choice of a bottle and a physiological pacifier as a relay for breastfeeding arrived.

A deep sense of abandonment

A gentle weaning is always preferable. Otherwise, the nursing strike, as it is sometimes called, can be very difficult for the mother to live with. The testimonies collected speak of pain, emptiness and real sentimental rupture, but also breastfeeding addiction.

The milk blues is a bit of all that at the same time. The result of great upheaval, physical and psychological changes and the sum of many complicated emotions, which lead some mothers to experience the end of breastfeeding as a painful moment.

 

Take a step back and rationalize to better analyze

Pregnancy, breastfeeding and more broadly the fact of becoming a mother, generates different physical and emotional states that are not always easy to identify, experience and digest.

Milk Blues, maman en dépression après l'arrêt de l'allaitement

 

Baby blues or milk blues, even before naming them, the best solution is to talk about them.
When a child is born, everything jostles and collides in your life. Your needs, those of your child, your spouse, your older children… Quickly, it is also the return of the demands of everyday life and perhaps those related to your job. You feel your mood changing, getting worse, without really understanding why.

From the first impressions of vagueness, of complications, from the first feelings of worse, take a break. Tell yourself that these feelings — however contradictory — are normal. You're not the only one feeling them. Perhaps, on the other hand, you will be the first to mention them.

After baby has spent months in your belly, then months on your breast, a new stage is coming, without you really knowing what it will be made of. Trust yourself and your little one. Together you will find a new balance.

 

A new stage is coming: how to be positive

Weaning baby makes you sad and already nostalgic. You hadn't expected it to happen so soon or you didn't see the time passing, absorbed as you were, by your bubble of love and serenity. Fortunately, nothing is final. You will soon find your joie de vivre and your desire to communicate it.

Consider mixed breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is over. To prolong its benefits and especially if you do it with pleasure, you can express your milk and continue to give it to your child thanks to his new bottle. If your baby is prone to colic, learn the different criteria for choose your bottle well.

Take all the time necessary

If you can, take the time, all the time necessary to fully live each step mixed breastfeeding. If weaning is already in place, allow yourself the luxury of long bottles, comfortably installed with a sling or skin to skin. 

Treat yourself to cute baby bottles

We have spent decades dealing with the fragility and weight of glass bottles and then the poor quality of plastic bottles. A healthy and design baby bottle was expected.

A breastfeeding mother develops and maintains with her child a deeply emotional gesture that it is now possible to continue beyond breastfeeding thanks to the sensory bottle. Between softness and roundness, this beautiful object has the aesthetics of the nourishing breast.

Treat yourself to moments just for you

Because quitting breastfeeding also means adopting a new schedule and taking advantage of a few little beaches of regained independence, program for you, moments of well-being and pleasure.

Find at the bottom of a drawer, the list of things you put on hold during your pregnancy; yoga, jogging, reading, exhibitions (digital), manicure, massage... and put all these appointments back on the agenda, simply to enjoy and be positive.

 

Finally, listen to yourself. Be your first therapist by following the advice distilled by your body and your mind. Don't give in to pressure, don't feel guilty listening to lecturers, and — whenever possible — don't do anything you don't feel positive about.
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