August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month. It’s a time to focus on the importance of breastfeeding for mothers and babies and the importance of maternal mental health.

What is maternal mental health?

Maternal mental health refers to a woman’s emotional well-being during pregnancy and in the postpartum period. It is important for both the mother and the child that the mother be mentally healthy during this time. Unfortunately, maternal mental health is often overlooked. This is likely because mental health is difficult to quantify; therefore, it can be hard to tell when a woman is struggling.

Some signs may indicate a problem, such as withdrawal from friends and family, changes in eating or sleeping habits, mood swings, or difficulty bonding with the baby. If you are concerned about your mental health, don’t hesitate to contact a therapist or counselor for help. If someone you know is struggling, encourage them to talk to a mental health professional as soon as possible. Many resources are available, and talking about what you’re going through can make a big difference.

Women with poor maternal mental health are more likely to have pregnancy problems, such as preterm labor or low birth weight babies. They are also more likely to experience postpartum depression, leading to problems with breastfeeding, bonding, and caring for their child. Therefore, women need to be aware of their mental health during pregnancy and postpartum and seek help if they have any difficulties.

The link between breastfeeding and maternal mental health

Breastfeeding is widely recognized as a healthy choice for babies, providing them with essential nutrients and antibodies. However, breastfeeding can also benefit mothers, reducing the risk of postpartum depression. Studieshave shown that breastfeeding women are less likely to experience depressive symptoms after childbirth. There are several possible explanations for this; one being breastfeeding can help to release oxytocin, a hormone that promotes bonding and calmness.

Additionally, the act of nursing can give mothers a sense of accomplishment and purpose during a time when they may be feeling overwhelmed by the demands of motherhood. Finally, breastfeeding can provide much-needed physical and emotional closeness between mother and child. For all these reasons, breastfeeding can be an important tool for maintaining maternal mental health.

However, it is important to note that not all mothers will experience these benefits. Some mothers may find breastfeeding stressful or difficult, which can impact their mental health. If you struggle with breastfeeding, it is important to seek support from a healthcare professional or lactation consultant. There are also several online resources available that can provide guidance and advice. Remember, there is no shame in seeking help, and you should not have to feel alone.

How to support breastfeeding moms

Breastfeeding is one of the most natural and beneficial things a mother can do for her child. However, it can also be a complex and challenging experience. Here are some ways you can support breastfeeding mothers:

1. Be understanding and patient. Breastfeeding can be a tough adjustment for both mother and baby. There may be times when the baby is fussy or refuses to latch on. Be understanding and patient during these times.

2. Offer encouragement and praise. Whenever the mother is successful in breastfeeding, offer encouragement and praise. This will help her feel more confident and motivated to continue breastfeeding.

3. Help with other tasks. Breastfeeding can be time-consuming, so offer to help with other tasks such as laundry, dishes, or childcare. This will give the mother more time to focus on breastfeeding.

4. Provide emotional support. Breastfeeding can be an emotional experience, so provide emotional support to the mother. This can include offering words of encouragement or providing a listening ear when she wants to talk about her experience.

By following these tips, you can provide much-needed support to breastfeeding mothers and help make the experience more positive for both mother and child.

Postpartum Depression is prevalent

It’s common for new mothers to feel a range of emotions after giving birth. From joy and happiness to anxiety and sadness, it’s normal to feel a rollercoaster of emotions. However, for some women, these feelings can be more intense and long-lasting and interfere with their ability to care for their baby and themselves. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 8 women experiences postpartum depression.

Symptoms of postpartum depression can include feeling hopeless, helpless, or worthless; having trouble sleeping; withdrawing from friends and family, experiencing changes in appetite, and feeling disconnected from your baby. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor or a mental health professional for help. You don’t have to suffer from postpartum depression alone; help is available.

One of the most severe forms of postpartum mental illness is postpartum psychosis. According to the Mayo Clinic, postpartum psychosis is a rare but serious mental illness that can develop after childbirth. Symptoms may include delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, and confused thinking. If left untreated, postpartum psychosis can be fatal. However, with prompt treatment, most women make a full recovery.

Treatment typically includes hospitalization and medication. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important to seek medical help immediately. Postpartum psychosis is a serious condition, but with treatment, most women make a full recovery.

Symptoms of postpartum depression

PPD can manifest as fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, and despair and can interfere with a woman’s ability to bond with her child and perform everyday tasks. While the causes of PPD are not fully understood, experts believe hormonal changes and lack of support are contributing factors. The good news is that PPD is treatable, and many resources are available to help struggling women. If you think you may be suffering from PPD, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

Signs that you may need to seek help

If you are struggling to cope with the demands of motherhood or are unable to function day to day, it is important to seek help. Postpartum depression is a serious condition that can harm your health and well-being. It is important to seek help as soon as possible if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

-Persistent sadness or irritability

-Loss of interest in activities that you used to enjoy

-Withdrawal from family and friends

-Difficulty bonding with your baby

-Feelings of guilt or worthlessness

-Excessive fatigue or insomnia

-Changes in appetite or weight

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please reach out to your healthcare provider or a mental health provider such as Serene Health. We offer a variety of behavioral health and mental health services. We also have late evening and weekend appointments available through our telehealth platform so that you can speak to a therapist online from the comfort of your home. Call Serene Health at 844-737-3638 or visit us at to schedule an appointment.