Action on Postpartum Psychosis
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Trigger? Breast feeding and PP

When my milk first came in on the second night after birth I was absolutely overcome by this pure saturated sadness that I'd never felt before it was a different feeling and I've been on and off antidepressants for the last 5 years but anyway I coped that night and was sent home the next morning. I'm pretty sure breast feeding was a pretty big trigger for me, so many fluctuating hormones that come with it. When I went to the mental hospital 3 weeks post birth I was struggling to keep breastfeeding but I was struggling even more with the thought of stopping. They were so worried when I presented by the state I was in and they wanted me to go on highest dose of Olanzipine (zyprexa) antipsychotic straight away. I refused to take it coz of the stigma attached at first. They gave me two strong sleeping tablets to knock me out coz I had only slept about 15 hours in 3 weeks. They came back hours later and I was still wired with worry. The next night they said if I didn't take the 20mgs of olanzipine then I would be sectioned to the public metal health ward which has a bad rep and so after about 16 attempts I swallowed it, the next day I met with the psych and she discussed me giving up breast feeding because they'd actually started me on a schedule where they woke me up 3 hourly at night to express so my milk didn't dry up (under a random midwives guidelines) the psych was not happy with that arrangement at all so they let me sleep instead and I expressed for three weeks but by the time I came out of hospital my baby girl was so established with formula feeding by my mum and her dad (my husband) that I ended up giving up completely, but for me I believe it helped me to get better from the acute crisis phase so much faster. I was devastated though about stopping, I felt everyone would think so much less of me for formula feeding And i was really strongly criticising myself in my head for being useless. I still wish I was breast feeding. But stopping was one of the things that helped save me and I can try again with he next baby if I'm lucky enough to get pregnant in a couple of years.

4 Replies

Hi Angviolet

I've just seen this post, and replied to your other one. I had a similar experience too, and I'm sure others will say as well, that breast feeding was a trigger in one way or another for the PP. I feel sadness too, that I couldn't breastfeed. I had a similar experience to you, I was so ill and so psychotic I couldn't breastfeed, and so so my son was put on formula and already established so I never went back to it, it was all just too much. I felt sadness too, I was going to be this great earth mother! what happened wasn't what I expected at all. I was also really anti dummies before my son, and when I came out of the psychosis he had a dummy too (something the MBU gave him, with my partners permission, and completely fair enough). He ended up being so attached to it, that we only managed to fully get rid of it when he was 4!!

I don't think we should feel guilty at all, in the end I feel I gave that up in order to get well so I could be the best mum I could be, for my son. Breastfeeding isn't for everyone. But yes, like you say, it still doesn't mean I don't feel so sad about it... and there is such pressure to breastfeed isn't there? I'd feel really sad looking at my other mum friends breastfeeding and wish I could too...

Take care X


oh thanks Ellie, so nice to read your reply and know you felt the same way. Yes, sometimes a lot can get in the way of being the earth mother you'd wanted to be.


Hi Angviolet,

The causes of PP are so unclear (and I have read your other thread about the hormonal changes, which it seems likely have a part to play too) but there have been other ladies who have mentioned breastfeeding too in their PP experience. When I was ill, I had been struggling to feed my son myself and it was certainly causing me huge amounts of anxiety and worry. He lost a lot of weight because he wasn't feeding properly and so feeding him became a huge obsession for me. As obsessions were a big feature of my PP, I do think that this was perhaps one of the contributory factors to my PP.

I feel really sad that I couldn't breastfeed but as I became so ill and was sectioned, there was then no choice with changing to bottle feeding. And he thrived on it so it was a positive in that respect. I have also heard lots of shared experiences around lack of sleep and that can sometimes be connected with feeding, so for me and my family, bottle feeding was a positive thing, especially as it allowed my husband to share the night feeds and I think also helped him to feel part of bonding with his baby. It's always nice to hear when women have managed to maintain feeding their babies through their PP though, however it wasn't possible in my illness.

Now 7 years on (and a 2nd baby with no recurrence of PP, which I chose to bottle feed from day 2 when I started meds) I like to think I am at peace with my choices around feeding. There certainly seems to be a lot of pressure, in some cases, to breastfeed and it certainly isn't for everyone, and doesn't happen for every mum and baby. We are all individuals after all and need to do what works for us.

The words you use around "saving you" certainly ring true for me too and a well Mum and baby who is not affected by whatever method they are fed has to be the most important thing doesn't it. I hope you are doing OK and finding the shared experiences on this website helpful in your recovery. Take care, xx


Hi Hannah, thanks so much for your reply. I totally know where you are coming from with everything you said, obsessions were part of my down fall too. Yes there are a lot of reasons why breastfeeding unfortunately is not always the best option, but you wouldn't think that when you talk to breastfeeding mothers sometimes and health care staff that put the pressure on. Hope you are having a good week. x


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