Breastfeeding · Emotional Health · Parenting

Infant feeding and my mental health

Baby being breastfed while parent is sitting at edge of bed
Becoming a new parent is a major life change that is certain to come with rewards and a few learning curves along the way. For those who are vulnerable to postpartum mood disorders (depression, anxiety, etc.) support from friends, family and the community are all important in helping a new parent feel confident in this time of transition.

Infant feeding is one of the aspects of baby care that some find stressful in the postpartum period, especially for first time parents!

When we are stressed and anxious our stress hormone (cortisol) rises — this can decrease milk supply and affect our mental health and general wellbeing.

Remember, you are not alone—your family, friends and community can be a great source of support.  Plan ahead in the prenatal period by communicating your desire to breastfeed to your partner and extended family, seek out walk-in breastfeeding clinics and support groups in your area, and read about breastfeeding and how to initiate the process after birth. Some good topics to look up in the prenatal period are:

Knowing this information well in advance will support your breastfeeding journey.

In the postpartum period consider asking your partner or support person to accompany you to a community breastfeeding clinics. Your circle of support can also support breastfeeding by helping to prepare snacks and meals for you as well as providing you with encouragement and positive feedback for your efforts.

Practicing self-care in the early days postpartum and beyond can be supportive and protective of both infant feeding and your mental health.

Self-care means:

  • taking time out for yourself
  • asking for support when you need it
  • carving out some time each week to be active
  • eating regular and well balanced meals and snacks
  • meeting a friend for a coffee or a walk.

Connect with a nurse via our eChat or call Toronto Public Health (416) 338-7600 to find out about free breastfeeding services available in your community.

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