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How to Bond With Baby when mom has severe PPD

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I have a friend who had severe PPD for which she was hospitalized about a year ago. She was breastfeeding at the time, but stopped when the baby was around 2 months old due to poor information, supposed supply problems, med issues, etc. She really wanted to breastfeed, and this was very hard on her. Her DD is now 14 months, and my friend is still battling depression, which she did not have before the baby. We got together this week, and she started to cry and said she still misses breastfeeding, and that while she was breastfeeding she felt that her and DD had a bond, and since stopping BF a year ago, the bond is gone. I feel so sad for her, because I am BFing my 9 month old, and I had a lot of trouble in the beginning and didn't think I could BF, and I am so grateful that it worked out for me because I feel I would be missing out on so much. So I really understand how she feels. I wish I could help in some way.

Does anyone have any suggestions for something she could do that would help her bond with her DD? I was trying to think of something that just her and DD could do together and no one else. Maybe it would help to bring the bond back. She said she doesn't think she'll ever get over it. I feel terrible, and wish I had helped her back then when she told me that she had stopped, but I didn't know if it would be appropriate, since she had already made the decision and seemed to be okay (which I now know was not the case) with that decision.

Any ideas?
post #2 of 8
Is she taking anything for her depression? I've had more luck with fish oil than with antidepressants. The depression needs to be dealt with before she'll have the ability to focus on her goal.
The best way, in my experience (I had a huge problem bonding with my second child due to PTSD and PPD) is to just dive into the child. Smell her hair, constantly. Use the same shampoo or lotion or whatever on the child so the smell doesn't change. Give her lots of kisses. Snuggle and cuddle all the time. Zerberts and tickles and other silliness. Don't create distance by retreating (into the internet, a book, daydreams, sleep, or staying busy). Be mindful. Live in every moment with the child. Be there, completely. Discover this new being and who she is and who she is becoming.

The bond is not about breastfeeding. Breastfeeding simplifies the bond because of the hormones, but it's not necessary. The bond is about being present with the child, and allowing your walls to come down and the love to soar through. But, that can't happen as long as she's depressed. She needs to target that first.

My bond with my second didn't develop until he was over a year old. It's not too late and she really needs to know that so she'll keep trying! It's totally worth the work. It does take work and perseverance.
post #3 of 8
I think the thing that would most help your friend bond with her baby is effective treatment for her depression.

I had pretty bad PPD with my daughter, aggravated by the separation involved in her NICU stay, and the first serious symptom was the feeling that I was not bonded to, and could not bond with, my daughter. Breastfeeding did not make this problem go away.

One of the things I would be aware of, on the basis of my experience, is that when the whole world feels grey and dreary, you are not going to look at a baby and feel all the joy and love in the world. You probably want to pull the covers over your head and sleep forever. The baby looks more like a little skin bag of screaming need than like a child to delight in. And it's hard to be really observant and notice the signs that the *child* adores you when you're in this fog. It's really important to keep in mind that the way the parent feels about the child is NOT the same way the child feels about the parent - your friend's baby may think her mama hung the moon.

Since DD was early, we qualified for EI, which turned out to be (for us) a therapist who came to the house once a week and fussed over the baby while I sat down with nothing in my hands and drank a cup of tea. It sounds like nothing, I know, but that woman managed to notice more details about DD than I was capable of, and was therefore able to point out that she was growing and changing and that she seemed to like me. Our pediatrician was also great with this kind of stuff, just noticing the things that babies do as they grow and develop relationships with their parents, and commenting on them. You do not have to be a therapist to ask if you can hold the baby, and tell her mother how alert and responsive that baby is.

As much as this stuff helped me feel better, talk therapy and medication were also key (and remain vital) for my mental health. If your friend is on medication and still feels this bad, she possibly needs to ask a psychiatrist to reevaluate her meds.
post #4 of 8
I agree that good treatment for her ppd is the most important factor. In addition to that I would strongly encourage her to wear her little girl. It may seem like a lot of money to get a good carrier ($50-$150 - easier for dad to swallow if you compare to a good stroller) when many people only wear their babies when they are small. But I have worn the 2.5yr olds I nanny on walks all the time and it is great! We can snuggle and talk on walks and it is a great way to feel intimacy with your lo. She can even have some skin to skin time if she wears around the house.
I hope she starts feeling better soon
post #5 of 8
This is about depression, not about breastfeeding (which is lovely, of course, but not a requirement to bond with your child). Definitely help her get the help she needs.

My favorite bonding activities are snuggling in bed together (DD sleeps in her own room, but she naps with me for a few hours after her first middle of the night waking) and taking baths & showers together.
post #6 of 8
What everyone else has said, but also baby massage helped me to bond with my son when I had PTSD and PND.
post #7 of 8
For me, with DS, I tried to have skin-to-skin contact as much as possible. That helped tremendously in feeling like he was part of me. I never had that "instant love" feeling that many moms talk about, and in my darkest moments, I wasn't all that sure I even wanted to *be* a mother. I felt better, and I'm sure so did he, when we were able to have a close, quiet connection.
post #8 of 8

it is something that only a therapist would be able to get to the bottom of. She/he will evaluate your friend based on her needs and speak with the psychiatrist. Getting the right help can make things go faster. People can add their input about what helped them but sometimes it feels bad when none of the listed things worked for you. The bond with her baby is uniquely hers and therefore, she needs specific care thats targeted to her to get what she needs

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