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Following my blog about when (and how) to stop breastfeeding, once you feel you and your baby are ready, I wanted to write about the challenge that some women face when they do decide to stop, as some find themselves feeling down or even depressed when they stop breastfeeding.
I first heard about this phenomenon, after reading Jo Goddard’s blog ‘A cup of Jo’. In it she describes the weaning-related depression she felt after abruptly stopping breastfeeding ‘I couldn’t bear thinking about the future. Every day felt long and exhausting, and I couldn’t imagine making it through all the days ahead of me.’
I really felt for Jo, and although I hadn’t experienced this myself, as it took us a long time to wind down and eventually stop, I did feel that it was important to spread the word to other mums, as this is a real and potentially very frightening side effect to stopping breastfeeding. To read Jo’s blog, click on the link at the bottom of the page.
So, here it is…when some women (and by no means all) decided to stop breast feeding (and very often when they decided to stop quickly, due to work commitments or other factors) they can feel similar feelings of depression to that of post-natal depression. I have tried to find out more information about this on the NHS website, but can’t find any mention of it. Google searches only really show blogs of peoples’ personal experiences. I’m not sure if the lack of medical information out there is due to a lack of knowledge, or not wanting to discourage women from taking up breastfeeding in the first place.
I think the reason behind these depressive feelings are, in part, due to a sadness that you are no longer enjoying an activity that you do with your baby that can bond you together, but a bigger factor is attributed (by the blog writers) to the drop of hormones in the body, so women effectively have a hormone crash if they stop feeding too quickly and this results in feelings of melancholy and hopelessness.
This is a little know about or researched phenomenon, and many women aren’t warned that if breastfeeding isn’t wound down slowly, as opposed to being stopped suddenly, then they can feel crashing waves of depression (which they should visit their doctor about).
What about you? Have you experienced anything like this? I would love to hear your story…
Rosie Wright runs weaning workshops for first time parents in Brighton.