Erin DuMontier, MD, discusses the benefits of breastfeeding for you and your baby as well as the signs, symptoms and differences between postpartum blues and depression.
How does breastfeeding benefit my baby and me?
“Breast milk provides the perfect mix of vitamins, protein and fat that your baby needs to grow,” Dr. DuMontier says. “Colostrum, which is made during the first few days after childbirth, helps your newborn’s digestive system grow and function. Breast milk also has antibodies that help your baby’s immune system fight off viruses and bacteria. Breastfeeding has been shown to decrease the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) as well. If your baby is premature, breast milk can help reduce the risk of many health problems that premature babies face.
For mothers, breastfeeding is great for many reasons. It may help with postpartum weight loss as it helps expend up to 500 calories per day. Breastfeeding also saves time and money. Women who breastfeed have lower rates of breast and ovarian cancer than women who don’t breastfeed. It has also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.”
What is the difference between postpartum blues and postpartum depression?
“Postpartum blues occur approximately two to three days after childbirth,” Dr. DuMontier explains. “Some women begin to feel depressed, anxious and upset. They may feel angry with the new baby, their partner, or other children. Some additional symptoms include:
• Crying for no reason
• Difficulty sleeping, eating or making decisions
• Questioning whether you can handle caring for a baby
These feeling will usually improve within a few days or one to two weeks without any treatment.
Postpartum depression can occur up to one year after having a baby, but most commonly starts one to three weeks after childbirth. Women with postpartum depression have more intense feelings of sadness, anxiety or despair that prevent them from being able to do their daily tasks. It is important to see your healthcare provider as soon as possible if you believe you have symptoms of postpartum depression. Treatment is usually necessary. Treatment options often consist of talk therapy with or without the addition of an antidepressant medication.”
Erin DuMontier, MD, is a part of BJC Medical Group and on staff at Missouri Baptist Medical Center. She practices at the Sunset Hills location of OB-GYN Associates of St. Louis, located at 3844 S. Lindbergh Blvd., Suite 235, Sunset Hills, MO. To make an appointment or find out more about her, please call (314) 725 -9300 or book online here >>
To read other FAQs from the OB-GYNs, like breast health and the HPV vaccine, click here.