Anyone else think breastfeeding may trigger pp?

Hi all.

I've posted a lot of here, I've gained so much support from this site. Thanks to all.

Starting to think about baby number two. I had pp 18months ago. Just want to try and think of all natural ways to reduce risk of relapse. I've decided not to take preventative meds, I got so tired on Aripriprizole and coming off them was difficult. I know there's a 50% chance I'll get pp again, but there's a 50% chance I won't so I'd rather not take meds unless I have symptoms.

Does anyone else think that breastfeeding may trigger pp? I loved doing it and knows it's the best milk for baby but I'm worried it adds to hormone changes. My last midwife said that the part of the brain that has psychosis also is the part that produces milk, I think it might be overstimulated but I can't find any research.

Really hope I don't get it again, a lot of my friends have had babies and I'm so jealous of their problem free time with their babies! I'm completely back to being me now though, I thought I'd recovered after 8 weeks but it's only the past few months that I've felt completely back to normal and confident

16 Replies

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  • Hi!

    I´m also wondering if hormonal imbalance plays an important role when it comes to PP. I had a relapse when I was around 5-6 weeks pregnant, and that´s when estrogen level is approximately three times that of the highest point in the menstrual cycle.

    If you do some research, you will also find something called menstrual psychosis.

    I´ve consulted with my GP and am considering to try progesterone treatment right after birth this time to see if it helps.

    Here´s an article talking about moods and hormones that I found quite interesting: womensinternational.com/con...

  • Hi, my daughter got PP a couple of months after her baby was born. I have always said that i was sure breastfeeding played a big part of it. Apart from all the hormone changes it was very stressful for her feeding every couple of hours..is baby getting enough.....lack of sleep.....expressing and freezing and the pressure from her midwife ! She agrees now and will be bottle feeding her next one. Would be interesting to know if everyone else that suffered this terrible condition also were breastfeeding. Take care x.

  • I think a lot on here did breastfeed as it's a question that comes up regularly. People are so pro breastfeeding but I hope people still comment, even if it's that they bottle fed and still got pp x

  • Oh no, that's terrible! How did you get treatment when being pregnant? I've always been told that's the safest time against pp. I think hormone changes most definitely are a factor in pp, also sleep for me so my husband has agreed to do night feeds next time in a different room to me. I don't think progesterone is used anymore in uk as I seem to remember a link with PND but your medical team will clarify. My Aunt had PND first time and took progesterone for second and it worked for her. Let me know how you get on please if you don't mind x

  • Hi! I was immediately put on olanzapine when the relapse happened, and eventually stepped down the dosage once I felt clearer. Since there´s still uncertainty about fetus safety for taking antipsychotics during pregnancy, my GP, pharmacist and psychiatrist gave me ok to go med free when I felt 100% myself.

    There were many factors that triggered my first PPP episode. prolonged labor, emergency c-section, infections, lack of sleep, difficulty with breastfeeding, moving to a new country, (thus lack of proper communication with health personnel), house-remodeling.., pressure to visit in-laws who live 3 hours away from us.. (Traveling during c-section is no joke). My body just couldn´t handle it.

    I am now 7 months pregnant with the second and am really nervous about what´s to come... We have set up a network with docs, midwives, and psychiatrists. We are doing the best to avoid all the possible triggers but I still cannot explain how I got the relapse in the beginning of the pregnancy. :/

  • Hi

    I breast fed all 3 of my children. I only had the psychosis with the first. Also I didn't get ill until I retuned to work at 9months. Which is quite rare not to get the illness in the first few weeks.

    I am positive though that it wasn't breastfeeding that brought about my illness but rather ceasing breastfeeding which triggered hormonal changes and the return of menstrual cycles. I had always had premenstrual depression but was never treated for it and just muddled through. With my second and third child I breastfed for 9 weeks until I needed better antidepressants. Throughout the second and third pregnancies and whilst breastfeeding I was on amitriptyline deemed safe in pregnancy and for breastfeeding. I wasn't willing to risk another psychosis, and as we all know the illness comes on very sudden, so I felt it was better to be on a low dose of antidepressant as opposed to none. That is just how I felt and is a big decision so I mainly took advice from the doctors.

    Good luck this time around. It's an anxious time but try to enjoy your pregnancy and lil one.

  • Hi, to feed or not to feed?

    I have suffered pp twice, my first baby was formula fed from birth, and my second was breast fed for 10 months.

    I loved feeding and my consultant offered me medication that was able to coincide with this. I think you need to go ahead and do what feels right for you and bubba. Feeding my baby was the one thing that knitted us together throughout the trauma, and has produced a fantastic bond.

    When I became ill following my first, I passed him to whoever I could, I was too agitated to complete a feed, and I wanted to run from the house. Needless to say, our bond took a very long time to establish, and I regret that.

    Feeding helps relax mum and produces the love hormone for you and baby. But feeding with meds can have side effects.

    Good luck

    Cath X

  • Hi,

    I breastfed until PP hit (just over 3 weeks). I know it's thought that hormonal changes play a big part in PP, I don't know about milk production specifically but it's an interesting one.

    I'm 5 months pregnant now and planning to take medication after the birth. I'm also planning to bottle feed after the initial feed. I'm hoping I'll be able to get more sleep than I did first time around, basically reduce the potential risk factors that I can and then beyond that keep everything crossed and know what to do if I do start getting symptoms.

    For me, as I seemed to be feeding constantly, especially at night, breast feeding became central to my anxiety as I became unwell. Avoiding it this time around may not make a difference, we'll see, but it feels right for me to remove that particular factor in trying to stay well this time.

    Take care and good luck x

  • Interesting discussion.

    I breastfed and agree that maybe breastfeeding could add to onset of PP. It could be the stress of being the sole person that provides for the baby, waking up, expressing etc. I also found that when I realised that something was wrong, I began manically expressing milk, so that if anything happened to me, my baby would still have milk.

    I breastfed all the way through and wouldn't change a thing though. If I have another baby I would still breastfeed.

  • Hi Sally, interesting question you raise about breast feeding and the onset of PP & it would be very interesting to see if this factor has been considered in the research. There does seem to be a hormonal/chemical link and it would seem to make sense. I developed hypomania which is one of the symptoms of PP after the birth of my first child 33 years ago and always intuitively felt there was a connection.

    I was sectioned and remember fighting tooth and nail with the staff about not wanting to take medication as I was wanting to continue breast feeding. Even tried hiding tablets, of course I was irrational, angry and distressed with no insight at all that anything was wrong and could'nt understand why 'everyone' said I needed a rest. What new Mum isn't knackered after having a child?

    Sorry , I digress but this forum wakens up such powerful, deep long buried memories and so appreciate being able to share them with you all. It has helped eradicate the guilt and helped me to gain a better understanding about PP, as I had always felt alone. I remember wishing it had been depression as I felt it would have been more ' acceptable', I did of course get floored with depression in the aftermath.

    Anyway Sally, I decided not to attempt breast feeding at all with my second child, so If I developed any symptoms I would be able to make medication. Fortunately I was absolutely fine with no problems at all.

    All the best Vee X

  • Hi Sally

    Thanks for posting this interesting question. I just wanted to add my comments to this thread. I had PP very suddenly and acutely (with no previous mental health history) on the evening of the day my milk came in (so day3). So yes, I wonder if it played a part. I would agree as well with some of what others said that I also found breastfeeding (for the very limited time I did it) very intense, and I became really obsessed with it (my son had some problems latching on properly).

    I have to say if I was to consider another child I definitely wouldn't breastfeed as I think it was one factor that contributed to becoming ill and would want to eliminate every possible pressure. However I know that others are different, as you can see from this thread.

    Good luck for the future X

  • Found this link today and thought it was interesting and informative:

    postpartumprogress.com/post...

  • Hi, I've never heard of breast feeding contributing to PP. I had PP after my son 17 years ago, I breast fed until I became ill. I also breast fed my daughter 3 years later and didn't have PP with her. I did have 3 months of progesterone treatments starting immediately after she was born, injections to start with. This was a method recommended by Dr Katharina Dalton, you can read about it online. There's a lot of controversy over whether it works or not, but it worked for me. I know how you feel about your friends and their problem free time with their babies. I used to feel exactly the same. I'm so glad I decided to have a second child, it was such a different experience and helped me get over what happened first time around. Good luck. x

  • Dear Sally,

    For me it was definitely a contributor, not for the tiredness/coping aspect, but the hormone rush. Breastfeeding was euphoric.

    "Day Six" by Jen Wight has a quote in it about this, and apparently the Norwegian language ha a word for the feel-good vibe a mum receives from the hormones of breastfeeding.

    It was something I wish they could have researched/measured when I was ill.

    I was ill in 2009 and 2013. Would love a 3rd....

    May write more later.... Please ask if you have questions...

    DEb

  • Hello,

    I have 4 children and no previous pp in the other 3 but got with number 4. Number 4 was different in two different ways. It was my first c section and also first time breastfeeding. My pp started at 7 weeks when I stopped breastfeeding. I feel that the emergency c section and breastfeeding played a massive part in me being ill with the 4th child.

    Claire

  • Hi Sally,

    This is a very interesting question... and I think breastfeeding was a contributor when I got ill too. Whether it's the hormonal bit or the circumstances in my case, I don't know. But I had an emergency c-section and there was a delay in my milk coming in. I really wanted to breast feed (and we all know how midwives like to encourage it too) so I tried and tried and I think it made my obsessions and anxiety even worse. My baby lost a lot of weight so we were admitted to hospital for monitoring and even then my erratic behaviour wasn't picked up and the breastfeeding was encouraged more. We also tried some really stressful feeding methods, and using a bit of formula from a cup (which was crazy looking back) and I certainly didn't sleep at times for worrying about the feeding. I didn't sleep anyway and that was another big factor really I guess. I think the hormones generally have a big part in PP, and perhaps on some level, it was thought that I was just worried about breastfeeding and this might have delayed the PP diagnosis - until I completely lost it and ended up being sectioned.

    Anyway, for me the breastfeeding stopped abruptly when I was in hospital without my baby. My husband then solely bottle fed him and all the problems with weight were solved. For me, when I had a 2nd baby and knew I was at high risk of another PP episode, one of the things we decided was not to breastfeed. It felt like I would be tempting fate when I didn't have to, as my eldest was fine from bottle feeding and it hadn't worked for me 1st time round. I know that's nothing to say that my 2nd baby wouldn't have been different, but after an initial breastfeed for colostrum, we switched to bottles and I also took a low dose of anti-psychotic. Again everyone is different, but we just felt it wasn't right for us, although I know some people have really positive stories. But the good thing is that I kept well with no PP 2nd time.

    In my 2nd pregnancy and birth plans, our watch words were "risk minimisation" and we tried to do absolutely anything and everything I could to reduce the possibility of getting ill again. If I had done, at least I wouldn't have had the "what if" thoughts. It's something to think about, and I'm sure you know but APP also offers a 2nd opinion service for women in subsequent pregnancies, if you don't have access to a perinatal service or have a pregnancy when you've been discharged from MH services (as I did). Here's the link: app-network.org/what-is-pp/... And there's also some great information in the APP Guides: app-network.org/what-is-pp/...

    Take care, xx

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