Staying Abreast of What’s Best for Your Mental Health

August is National Breastfeeding Month, and it’s necessary to take a look at how it can affect one’s mental health, both positively and sometimes negatively. As a mother, we want to do what’s best, but does that always mean the breast?

What do the Experts Say?

For babies, breastfeeding is recommended by the American Pregnancy Association as the most nutritionally balanced meal as it helps protect against common infections and increases the survival rate in the first year of life. But, how does it benefit the mother? From increased confidence and self-esteem to lowering the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, there are many benefits to breastfeeding.

Additionally, there are two hormones produced when breastfeeding: oxytocin and prolactin. These two hormones promote stress reduction, positive feelings and lessen the risk of postpartum depression. The American Psychological Association reports that 1 in 7 will be diagnosed with what is otherwise known as the “baby blues,” and breastfeeding is a great way to combat this disease that has affected many new mothers. 

The Pressure to Breastfeed.

On the flip side, can the pressure to breastfeed exclusively affect your mental health? Psychologists and real-life moms say YES! When it comes to what is best for the baby, a healthy mother takes precedence.

“Breastmilk does not care for, nurture and bond with the baby. A mother does. I am not arguing the health benefits of breastfeeding. Those are known facts. I am talking about the part that just isn’t talked about enough: a mom’s mental health.”

Carrie Bruno, a lactation specialist, writes in a Today’s Parent article

Viable options are available now more than ever to help supplement and dissolve the feeling of inadequacy, stress, or pure exhaustion. When the pains and strains of exclusively breastfeeding feel overwhelming, it may be time to take a step back and make a new plan. In the end, you have to let go of the societal pressures and do what is best for you.

Moms, this is your decision!

We recommend you surround yourself with supportive people. Discuss options with your doctor and lactation specialist, join a support group online or in-person, and most importantly, trust your instincts!

If you think you may be struggling with postpartum depression, please reach out to someone that can help – schedule an appointment with our team or call or text the Postpartum Support International helpline at 1-800-944-4773

Debilitating to Rehabilitating: Overcoming COVID Fear and Embracing the Social Scene

Dating. Backyard Barbecues. Open mic night at karaoke. Concerts. 

Oh how we’ve longed to get back to these events, but in the same breath, we’ve worried and allowed fear to claim authority over our lives. How do we slowly get back to that comfort zone that diminished overnight? What can we envision? 

Businesses are opening back up, the CDC has made modifications to the guidelines they suggest we follow, and the amount of vaccines being administered is climbing. However, the American Psychological Association reports that 49% of Americans are still uncomfortable with returning to in person interactions and activities. That number is 48% with those who are vaccinated. 

We got ourselves vaccinated. Now, how do we move from a feeling of debilitation to rehabilitating our social life?

“One small step…” 

Think about where one small step can take you. There is no reason to jump right back in, full force. Take baby steps and start small. Expose yourself in small increments until that feeling of fear or anxiety subsides. And remember, it’s not a race. 

“Sooner rather than later…“

Haven’t we always found it to be true that when we put things off, the anticipation, anxiety and worry builds?  Along with the small steps, take a tiny plunge back into the world of people. Venture to the grocery store or instead of the drive-thru, break the threshold and walk in for your coffee. It’s quick, but gives you some exposure and begins to build the confidence you may have been lacking.  

“Partner up…” 

If we’ve learned anything over the last year, we need companionship and support. Doing things together adds a sense of security. Maybe you’ve conquered walking in to grab your coffee. Now, you can sit and have the coffee with a friend, even if it’s on the patio.  

We’ve heard the word essential more times than we count this year: Essential workers. Essential items. Essential services. 

We also heard the word isolate.

What we didn’t hear enough of was that social interaction is ESSENTIAL to our well-being, emotionally and physically. 

“Fear is the mind-killer” and can completely debilitate us. It did exactly that this past year. To quell our fears and risk not being about to rehabilitate ourselves, the slow immersion back into the social scene is paramount. 

Sources:
Quote- Frank Herbert
American Psychological Association