Deep breathing and breastfeeding

Put your oxygen mask on first. When there is an emergency on a plane, we are instructed to put our mask on first before helping others. This is also critical when caring for our babies. You’ve just gone through one of the most traumatic experiences your body could physical do: give birth to another human being. You’re healing a dinner plate sized wound on your uterus while sweating like a pig and not sleeping for more than a few hours at a time. There are so many physical, social, and emotional changes happening to you all at once it can be easy to just ignore all of them to focus your energy into your new tiny human.

Deep breathing is one of the easiest, most convenient tools to reduce stress, anxiety, and pain. And who doesn’t have all of those after the trauma of giving birth and dealing with all of the physical, social and emotional changes of bringing a tiny human into their life? Laying on your back, feet up against the wall and focusing on intentional breaths is one of the simplest ways to reset and promote balance in your body again 

Deep breathing:

❤️ Decreases stress, increases calm. Stress and anxiety makes your brain release cortisol, the “stress hormone”, which decreases oxytocin, your milk let down hormone. Deep breathing slows your heart rate, allowing more oxygen to enter the blood stream which relaxes your brain and lowers cortisol. This results in higher oxytocin and thus more milk

🧨Relieves pain through endorphin release which can help while you’re healing your lady bits (or those cracked nips)

💎Detoxifies the body by stimulating the lymphatic system. Carbon monoxide is released by breathing. 70% of the toxins in your body are cleared just by breathing

🚗Increases energy. More oxygen= better body functions and that improves stamina. Who doesn’t need that for 2am feedings?

🩺Lowers blood pressure. Relaxed muscles allows blood vessels to dialate, which improves circulation and lowers blood pressure

💊Fully oxygenated blood carries and absorbs nutrients and vitamins more efficiently, improving your immune system against viruses and bacteria. This also helps improve digestion! 

🤸‍♀️Supports good posture. When you breathe in, your lungs expand which pulls your diaphragm down and straightens your spine. You definitely need to lengthen your spine and release that neck tension from being hunched over while latching your baby

The risks of not addressing maternal mental health include:

✏️Poor infant growth, language and cognitive development 

✏️Poor gross and fine motor development

✏️Less efficient breastfeeding or weaning from breastfeeding earlier than desired

✏️Poor infant sleep and increased maternal stress. 

When considering antidepressant use during lactation, while most medications are considered safe for mom and baby, there is no “zero risk” option. However, the benefits of using a medication to help decrease depression and anxiety usually outweigh the risks acostares with taking a medication. If a mother has been on a certain med prior to breastfeeding and it worked well for her, it would be reasonable to resume that medication while breastfeeding. Sertraline (Zoloft) is a first-line drug for breastfeeding, due to documented low levels of exposure in breastfeeding babies and the very low number of adverse events described in case reports. Prozac is generally considered safe to take while breastfeeding; however, research shows that the average amount of the drug in breastmilk is higher than with other SSRIs. 

When taking any medication, you want to monitor for side effects both in you and the baby. Most common side effects when taking antidepressants are:

🥛 Changes in milk supply

🛌 Sedation/sleepiness in baby

Poor feeding or weight gain in baby

Antidepressants can work well to help you feel balanced again. Work closely with an IBCLC while starting antidepressants to help continue and feel supported in your breastfeeding journey