Thank you for the comment in response to this piece on breastfeeding and PPD; your experience is interesting and similar to others I have heard about their own breastfeeding and experiences with depression after childbirth. In these cases, it’s quite true, it is essential to know what puts these women at risk for depression and what protects them.
My lingering worry is on behalf of the many women for whom this is not only not the case, but for whom the opposite may be true. There is also anecdotal evidence that some women who are exhausted, overwhelmed, and struggling with profound expectations of perfection, find that breastfeeding *can* represent one more thing that feel they must do; because their friends say so, the American Academy of Pediatrics says so, their OBGYN and Pediatrician says so. As one can imagine, continuing to breastfeed under these circumstances might equally set a woman up for depressive symptoms. Sometimes, when some of these women discontinue breastfeeding, they actually feel better.
A number of years ago, I published an article titled “Is Breast Always Best”. The article was received with mixed reviews. Countless women condemned what they perceived to be my anti-breastfeeding stance, while an equal number thanked me and praised what they perceived to be permission to stop breastfeeding if it were in their best interest. Everyone knows what a complicated and provocative subject matter this is.
The take-home point is this: Some women will indeed feel better, emotionally, psychologically, physically, spiritually, biologically, if they breastfeed. Some will not. It may not just be a matter of whether mothers breastfeeds or not — it may be how they interpret the experience or the loss, whether they are breastfeeding or bottlefeeding.
It’s so very important to know yourself, your body, your state of mind, your situation, your history, and other contributing factors, in order to determine what is ultimately best for you.