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Breastfeeding and severe hormonal imbalance...any help appreciated

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I am nursing my 16 month old and the nursing is great-- she seems not the least interested in weaning but I, on the other hand, am (but it has nothing to do with breast feeding).


For whatever reason, and the reason doesn't really matter, I have severe, like threatening my marriage PMS ever since children I guess but I never noticed it until my daughter because I had my son, breastfed him, was pregnant again when he was six months, and never really had a period until my daughter was four months old.


So, I get my period very regularly (every 3-4 weeks) despite breastfeeding which I did exclusively until my daughter was almost a year bc she is picky eater and for some reason, the week prior is so awful with PMS that my husband and mother have told me I need to quit breastfeeding and be medicated.  


I know it sounds like, geez lady...just get over it and realize it's hormones.  I have tried that but inevitably I end up screaming, crying, acting like a lunatic, and frankly, this is truly not like me.  I am an educated, calm, stay at home mother who plans on home schooling.  I believe in gentle discipline, inquiry based learning, and love my days with my children more than anything.  I would like to note I never yell or become angry with my children, thank God.  I direct all that at my poor husband.  I am smart enough to recognize I am the problem.  


So, after therapy where the therapist agreed I shouldn't breastfeed anymore as it's probably not helping the hormonal imbalance, I agreed to stop and try natural paths to help (vitex, st. johns wort, yoga) but I am having a tough time.  I am still breastfeeding and plan to stop in about a month.  I am hoping by constant prayer that I can truly overcome this and continue breastfeeding.  I am not ready to give that up but I can't incorporate herbs while breastfeeding as I don't feel that is safe either. 


But, has anyone experienced anything like this?  Any help or insight?


Thank You

post #2 of 6

There are natural ways to get hormonal balance that are compatible with breastfeeding.  Start with 'vitex'.  Research it. You dont have to wean your poor child because of your husband.


Also lookup Dr Hale's website which lists whether or not drugs/remedies are compatible with breastfeeding.

post #3 of 6

Exactly, even if you need to be on medication, there are plenty of meds that are completely compatible with breastfeeding. I would suggest seeing a Board Certified Lactation Consultant and having her work with your psychiatrist or whoever would be prescribing medication.


There are situations that are severe enough to warrant prescription medication but they don't all require weaning.


The OP said her therapist said the breastfeeding was contributing to the problem? I'm a lactation consultant and I've also suffered from post partum mood disorders... mine got worse after my 2nd child weaned. Breastfeeding actually keeps the depression at bay for me, at least.


Many of my clients have had PPMD treated while they breastfed. It's very outdated to think it has to be one or the other: Breastfeeding or treatment. I'd do what you can, by first working with a lactation consultant, to find a breastfeeding friendly physician who can treat you, understand  the clinical terms used by Dr. Hale and his website and books (and DON'T use the Physician's Desk Reference for breastfeeding information. It's nothing but the inserts from the drug companies, who say that completely safe drugs are "contraindicated" during breastfeeding because they all practice CYA medicine.)


I understand the OP is suffering, but many many women have had even severe PPMD treated and continued to breastfeed. In my practice, the only women who had to wean for treatment were those who had post partum psychosis, were actively hallucinating and had to be separated from their children for safety, THAT does not sound like the OP's situation at all. There are treatment options, even allopathic prescription meds that can be safely used during breastfeeding.

post #4 of 6
Yes, you are getting advice on BF from people who do NOT understand lactation.

Weaning is an independent risk factor for depression. I am an herbalist & honestly, w/o doing a full intake, your symptoms sound clinical to me (vs. sub clinical). Herbs are best in sub clinical situations, but any meds for PPMD are completely compatible with BF.

I would NOT consider weaning a treatment for this.
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thank you Maggie and Dina as well... I will certainly speak with a lactation consultant ... I never even thought of that...about what herbs and meds I can involve. My daughter is do clearly not ready to wean as she still readily breast feeds multiple times a day.

I really appreciate the help-- I felt vulnerable and a little silly posting this but the answers have really benefitted and furthered my understanding of why BFing is not the issue
post #6 of 6

If you can find a Private Practice Lactation Consultant (or even a LLL Professional Liaison Leader) she may have more "freedom" to help you than some hospital based LCs. Don't get me wrong, some of my best friends are hospital based LCs, but sometimes they are almost give gag orders to not contradict what MDs from that hospital say to patients. (It depends on the LC and her situation as well as other things.)


There are so many meds and herbs and your situation will have to be carefully looked at. My suggestion: talk to a psychiatrist who can diagnose you, let him or her know you are very dedicated to breastfeeding and know there are compatible medications for your condition. (Many sub clinical conditions can be treated without prescription meds, but if the situation is severe, you may want to talk to a mental health professional, so you can have all your options laid out for you.)  It's hard to stand up to medical professionals, but being polite, but firm about breastfeeding, stressing the benefits to the baby is helpful. You may also want to see the LC first. She won't be able to "suggest" any meds (we aren't supposed to do that) but she can maybe tell you what meds have worked for other moms and she can also research drugs and herbs from Dr. Hales book and website. I have to give you a caveat: Dr. Hate's work is for the most part, not really meant for lay people. Many of the terms used are complicated and it helps to have a medical or nursing background to be able to interpret what the different terms mean. I'm sure you are an intelligent woman, but in the situation you are in, I wouldn't go it alone. Having a good LC or Professional Liaison Leader to guide you is best.


One more caveat, make sure doctor and LC are open to many different forms of treatment. In my experience, people who dismiss pharmaceuticals out of hand, (especially without knowing all the details of how bad the patient may be feeling) is short sided, and likewise, those who only want to use allopathic meds alone are not being open minded either. I've found that every situation is different. For "mild to moderate depression" (and in Post Partum Mood Disorders, "depression" often comes in the form of being revved up, unable to sleep, irritable etc, not always the classic "sad" symptoms people expect with a "depression" diagnosis, which is why we call it "Post Partum Mood Disorders" and not just "Post Partum Depression."


Most women who have "mild to moderate" symptoms often do well with psychotherapy and maybe some meds or herbs for short periods of time. If the symptoms are more severe, or not responding to just herbs and talk therapy, then sometimes prescription meds may be warranted. I can't tell you where you will be in this spectrum because every woman is different. But, in my opinion, using meds without therapy is doing less than half of what help the mom and the family. Often couples or family therapy can help as well.


Sending you healing thoughts. Treating PPMDs are not fun, and it can take some time to get the right "cocktail" of treatment options right, but keep at it and you will feel better and your mood will eventually respond. Just so your husband knows that even drugs are not an "instant fix" therapy, help at home, a quiet and peaceful home environment, good nutrition and time to recover and let the treatment work is necessary.



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