Written by Jana Angeles
Breastfeeding is something all women assume they can do but when they actually attempt it, it may not be as easy as they think it is. It’s hard to justify how breastfeeding can be difficult to some individuals and it’s something that some may take for granted. First time mothers may be keen to get their baby to latch on and breastfeed but sometimes, they simply do not have capacity to do that. In this article, we explore how breastfeeding problems could link to the cause of PND.
Being unable to breastfeed could lead to a loss of confidence in women. Since they are unable to do the thing that is “natural”, they may feel that they are useless and cannot provide the proper nutrients for their baby. If they have people in their families or friends who have successfully breastfed their children, they may feel that their expectations have not been met, leading to the comparison trap and losing confidence in themselves as a parent.
It’s easy to place an idealistic picture on what we want as parents before we even become parents. With media reporting the benefits of breastfeeding and how bottle feeding should be discouraged, society may sway women into feeling like they should be able to breastfeed milk to their babies. Women who cannot breastfeed may feel the need to keep trying, despite their struggles because of the pressures society has placed on them. Having that added pressure only gives them the opportunity to bring themselves down, which could then lead to symptoms of PND since they are seen by society as a failure.
Too demanding physically or emotionally
This can vary from each woman but breastfeeding may be physically and/or emotionally demanding for them. Breastfeeding may also be painful and requires the physical effort by the mother to successfully deliver breastmilk to their baby. This could be straining, especially if they aren’t well-rested. With the physical and emotional demands that could come from breastfeeding, these could lead to experiencing symptoms of PND.
Tips for breastfeeding support
- Join a mum support group: Joining a support group with other mothers who haven’t been successful with breastfeeding could be what you need. Being with peers who are experiencing the same issues as you can be comforting and you will find that you can relate to each other the same way. It also provides a healthy space for you to open up and share the impact on what it’s like to be unable to breastfeed.
- Open up to your loved ones about your struggles: Being open to your friends and family about your breastfeeding struggles shows that you can trust them despite what goes on in your life. Just because you feel like a failure doesn’t mean you are completely alone in this. Your close network of family and friends are here to help you along the way.
- Keep a diary and write out your thoughts and feelings: It can be tough trying to bottle your thoughts and feelings about not being able to breastfeed. Allowing yourself to write in a diary can be a healthy way for you to reflect and make sense of everything that you’re thinking of. There is no shame for stringing together words that could hopefully make sense to you in the future when you have accepted that breastfeeding is just not meant for you.
- Accept what you can’t change and move forward: Despite what your friends, family or society say, if breastfeeding doesn’t work for you, then you shouldn’t try and make it work for you. Being in denial will not only make things worse but the extra pressure will overwhelm you to the point where it could affect your physical and mental health. It’s easier to let go and stick to the existing alternatives. There will be people who may judge you for not being able to breastfeed, but that doesn’t mean you should let them make you feel terrible about it. There are things you cannot change and you just need to learn to let go and move forward.