Postpartum depression and anxiety: luckily, almost all of us are aware that it’s a very real thing. So, let’s say a year or more goes by after baby arrives. Sure, things are hard in the beginning, but you think you’ve found a Mom-groove. You’re almost surprised that you didn’t fall victim to postpartum blues.
Life has a way of sneaking up on me, though. When my daughter was about a year and a half old, I started having panic attacks, seemingly out of nowhere. I wanted to oversimplify it by making it about caffeine. But deep down (given my mental health history) I knew it was more than that.
I accepted the fact that I needed to go back on medication to control my anxieties. But, I really wanted to understand the timing. How was I doing so well for so long? What suddenly changed? We had some stressful things going on, but that’s not unusual.
My mind kept going to back to one thing that had changed: I recently stopped breastfeeding my daughter.
I had felt so sure that I wanted to wean her, for the longest time.
If anything, I was just waiting for my daughter to stop requesting to nurse. That finally happened after I returned from a 5-day vacation. I had only been pumping once a day on the trip, and was able to completely stop after that. I didn’t have any physical difficulties, and was excited to not have the “inconveniences” of nursing any more.
Then I remembered the birthing class we took at the hospital. They emphasized all of the benefits of breastfeeding, but I zoned out, already knowing that I wanted to try it. Didn’t they mention something about… it preventing postpartum depression?
Yes, indeed, breastfeeding releases the calming hormones prolactin and oxytocin. So, it actually makes a lot of sense that I would be experiencing more anxiety with less of those hormones, in combination with my stress and seasonal triggers.
But they never mention what happens when you stop breastfeeding.
I knew a lot of my friends had trouble with the physical rejection when their kids were done breastfeeding. But I had never heard about postpartum depression or anxiety starting then. I found it reassuring to find stories online similar to my own.
We should provide as much support for breastfeeding Moms at the end of their journey as we do at the beginning.
Whether or not you weaned your child voluntarily: did you experience any increased anxiety afterwards?