Friday, December 16, 2011

Post partum depression after weaning?

As explained in my earlier post about weaning Maisie over a month ago, I was having a hard time letting go. I was emotional and rightfully so. Breast feeding has been the foundation of so many loving, bonding memories for little Maisie and me.

As the days passed after Maisie self-weaned, I felt more and more emotionally off kilter. Austin would leave to work and Maisie would be down for her nap and I would cry for hours straight, no joke. Nothing particular was upsetting me, but I just felt overwhelmingly sad. All day long I was fighting back my emotions. I tried to keep everything to myself, but any moment tears were going to escape from the safety of my tear ducts and expose my sadness to my daughter and husband. The thing is I wasn't terribly sad about any thing in particular. My heart felt heavy, I felt worn down, shut down and not like myself. This went on for a week before I told Austin I needed his help. "Something is wrong with me" I said.

Sure enough after a quick google search "depression after weaning" instantly tons of information populates,  explaining that post partum depression can occur after weaning (because of the hormone crash) and it's not super uncommon. After reading page after page at least I had confirmation that at least I wasn't alone. My hormones were crashing drastically and it was causing a lack of appetite, troubles sleeping, horrible once a day headaches and overall my whole body to ache with sadness. I thought that by weaning, things would return to normal (you know the joys of having your body to yourself again) but it seemed by weaning, it further complicated matters. I was so confused.

I'm a reader. When I first got pregnant I read every book I could get my hands on. I even had a huge book just on breastfeeding, but never once did it mention this possibility. I mean it makes sense I guess, my body still in nursing mode is completely different than not. Hormones are allowing me to produce milk and oxytocin floods my body creating the loving, bonding connections as it also aids in the excretion of milk. I just never imagined that not having those hormones or when those hormones declined, that I would be so depressed. I wish some one or some book would have told me this was a possibility. When it first started happening, I felt alone and scared because I thought that something was seriously wrong.

I don't do well with hormonal changes.

1)When my Auto-immune disorder was at it's worst, doctors had me pumped full of prednisone (corticosteroid used to suppress the immune system) and for those few months they had me on and off "the prednisone diet", I was completely bipolar. Happy and then sad with the ever so frequent crying fits. I made a promise to myself I would never go back on the stuff again {plus it's highly addictive} and I haven't since.

2) Not as extreme, but a couple of months before Austin and I married, I started birth control (like that worked anyway... haha) but the same thing. I found myself being upset over the smallest things.

3) Then my pregnancy, in the whole first three months (1st trimester)  I ate MAYBE a small bowl of fruit a day. I don't know how Maisie kept growing, because I lost a ton of weight. By the time I went to the doctor {a few weeks into the second trimester} when my appetite came back full force (carbo loading big time) and I started to gain weight back, I was still 15 pounds down off of my pre-pregnancy weight. I had headaches that would last over a week, had absolutely no appetite and around the clock nauseousness.

So obviously hormones are not my friend.

It has now been over a month since Maisie weaned and while at times I still get down, {mainly when I am alone} it's much much better {no longer crying}. I am open and communicative with how I am feeling. I have my sister and husband at my disposal and plus things are just starting to level out. My tension headaches are less frequent and my body is beginning to feel like my own again.

As you become a parent you come across situations and you think to yourself "why didn't anybody tell me this!?" I think I could dedicate a post just to "things nobody told me about pregnancy/birth/motherhood/babies&breastfeeding". I might have to work on the title a little bit, but was there anything that you stopped and thought to yourself "why didn't I know about this?" until it was in front of you? I am sure we could come up with a pretty fascinating list.

Post partum depression occurring after weaning may sound crazy, believe me I had no idea this could even happen, but if you do a little research it happens more frequently than you may think. I just don't want anybody else to feel alone or crazy just because they didn't have warning from a book or a friend. So that's my motive behind this post, plus it helps getting it off my chest as well.


  1. I'm so sorry Sammie! Having a baby is so wonderful, but it does awful things to our bodies and minds! I think a lot of people are afraid to talk about post-partum depression, which makes me so glad you were willing to be open. I've struggled with it on and off after Briella (mostly during winter months), and really thought it was never going to end until a friend told me your body isn't fully normal until you are three years post-partum! I don't know if you are at the point where you would want to try something to help, but I've been using a supplement from Costco called 5-HTP "happy". Goofy name, I know :) It basically helps your body produce serotonin naturally, and I felt way better the day after I took it. I tried a medication last year, but didn't like the way it made me feel, and when I went off of it I was VERY SICK for weeks, so I really want to avoid that again. I did a lot of research on 5-HTP after that experience, and it will not cause physical dependance like a medication (no withdrawals), but it's effectiveness will wain over time if you take it every day. To counter this I take a week off every month when I'm needing it, and stop completely when I'm feeling better. I think it's like $15, and that gives you enough to last for months.
    Hope that helps! Praying for you- I really think "baby blues" can be that hardest part of being a mommy sometimes!

  2. I had a hard time emotionally after Keenan weaned too. I am not sure i would have called it post-partum depression, because after a week or so i started to feel better but i definitely think that it very much had to do with the hormones. I would cry when Keenan went down for a nap and no longer needed/wanted to nurse himself to sleep. I felt as though i was useless and that he didn't need me as much anymore. It takes adjusting and time for the hormones to level out. I am so glad that you had Austin by your side to help you through this.

  3. Thank you for sharing....I wish I would have found this sooner to be able to better prepare myself. My 15 month old daughter self-weaned 9 days ago and it was very abrupt. I have been a wreck but still she wants nothing to do with nursing anymore, which further saddens me. I am *better* than the first few days, but still have a long way to feeling the way I did 2 weeks ago. I have had the worst migraines and those are getting very old. I hope this doesn't last long. At any rate, thanks for being vulnerable - reading that other moms have gone through this before makes me feel like at least I'm not totally crazy.