Okay Warrior Moms, this pregnant mom and postpartum anxiety survivor wants to know whether she should skip treatment for the second time so she can breastfeed her baby. Please share your thoughts via the comment section.
My second baby is due to arrive fairly soon (scheduled c-section). I had severe postpartum anxiety and moderate postpartum OCD after my child’s birth three years ago even though my first pregnancy was a happy, blissful time and extremely easy.
I haven’t been on any medication during this pregnancy, and it’s been much tougher than the first. I’ve had a lot of anxiety and difficulty sleeping throughout. And there has been a lot of external stress too. We bought a new house and my husband lost his job. Not long after that, we found out I was pregnant. (We wanted a second baby, but I’d immediately declared when he lost his job that we should stop trying. It turns out that I was already pregnant– proving God has a fun sense of humor.) For someone who ls naturally anxious even when I’m on medication, these changes were big triggers for me.
I’ve felt myself getting worse and worse as my due date approached, and I made an appointment with my psychiatrist. When I met with her on Friday, she immediately saw that I was suffering from anxiety and depression. She recommended that I go back on medication immediately after the new baby’s birth to prevent a repeat of the postpartum anxiety and OCD I had last time. But the problem is that the mix of drugs that worked for me last time are not safe for breastfeeding.
After my first child’s birth I took a medication that was considered safe for breastfeeding. It helped me function, but I didn’t start feeling better until I stopped breastfeeding at 3 months and switched to a different medication. It took about a year of working with my psychiatrist to find what worked the best.Now I have to decide if I want to start with the “safe” medication again and attempt to breastfeed this new baby or start with the mix that worked after much trial and error last time even if it means putting the baby on formula immediately. I’m conflicted because I really truly hated breastfeeding last time but also want to do what’s best for the baby. And I’m also not ready to deal with the criticism mothers face for formula-feeding.
Last time, I took off six months from work, so I was able to survive the sleep deprivation and demands of breastfeeding for the first three months even though I hated every moment of it. This time, I’m not able to take off time since I’m running my own business and have clients and other demands, but will have help from my husband and a nanny.
Still I’m not sure I can put the baby on formula from day one even if it’s to take medication that helps me. I live in an area that is dominated by breastfeeding mommies. I got crap last time for quitting breastfeeding and switching to formula at three months, and I’m already hearing judgmental comments from the mommies about how I’m going back to work nearly immediately. These women often say things to me like “I don’t know how you do it” in reference to my work. I feel like they are questioning my ability as a mother when they make “how do you do it” comments because they follow-up by telling me how busy they are being a mom. The implication is that I “do it” by neglecting my responsibilities as a mother.
I’m too polite to tell them that my not-quite 3 year old is quite healthy and happy. Heck…he’s already potty-trained and reading and even says please and thank you consistently and plays so nicely with other kids. He even helps clean-up his toys. And he’s loving and has a great sense of humor. Clearly I’m doing something right.
But I just don’t know if I can deal with the comments and the negativity from just about everyone I know (with the exception of my own parents, mother-in-law and husband) for not breastfeeding at all. At least last time, I was able to say that I stopped breastfeeding due to mastitis, and that shut up most (but not all) of them. But if I never nurse, I’ll face a lot of criticism both behind my back and to my face. I’m not exactly open with people about postpartum anxiety/OCD, and I look happy and healthy to people that know me. They’ll probably speculate that I’m one of those mothers who formula feeds because she’s so career obsessed and wants the nanny to parent her child.
I’m just not sure if I can deal with the hurtful comments, and I don’t want to tell anyone that I’m not breastfeeding because I need medication. Most of all, I’m resentful that moms have to justify formula-feeding and that “breast is best” messaging makes total strangers feel empowered to shoot you dirty looks in the park if you pull out a bottle.
The best thing for me would be to formula-feed and take the more effective medication, but I’m holding a prescription for the “safe” med right now and feel the pressure to “tough it out” for my baby. I know that med will help me function, but I do worry that I’m delaying feeling completely better by not taking the more effective (for me) meds immediately. And I’ve already had a tough time this whole pregnancy because I chose to do it without any medicine since I was too worried about harm to the baby. I’m ready to feel happy again, but I think the constant criticism about formula would be just as harmful to recovery as taking a less-effective medicine.
So how do other moms with postpartum depression justify their decision to formula feed from birth if they do not feel comfortable disclosing that they have a medical reason? I don’t exactly want to share my mental health issues with friends and acquaintances. But would anything else shut them up? Even my friend’s husbands are big breastfeeding advocates and say things like “I’m so glad my wife quit her job as a partner at a major law firm because breastfeeding is such a big accomplishment and sacrifice. Isn’t she so amazing? I wouldn’t want to be with someone who would put their interests above the health and well-being of our baby.” (They haven’t used those exact words, but it’s an accurate summary of the conversation.)
What do you think, ladies?
For more resources, try Which Psychiatric Medications Are Safe During Breastfeeding?