Emotions and breastfeeding

Being pregnant and becoming a parent is one of the biggest upheavals in life and can have a huge effect on our emotional wellbeing. You might have had a complicated pregnancy or birth, had feeding difficulties or struggle with lack of sleep. It’s important not to feel guilty or disappointed if you are finding things hard.

It’s very common to feel mixed emotions after giving birth.

You might feel:

  • emotional, irrational or overwhelmed
  • tearful or down
  • irritable, moody or anxious.

Your hormone levels are changing rapidly and it can be a major adjustment from being pregnant to looking after your new baby. Your hormones oestrogen and progesterone drop suddenly, while milk making hormones increase. You’re also likely to be tired and sore after the birth and be having sleepless nights. Together with the sense of responsibility that comes with looking after your own baby, it’s perfectly understandable that you might have a wobble. People call this the baby blues.

Do whatever helps you feel better. Asking a friend or family member pop over to help out around the home or have a chat about you’re feeling can help. On the other hand, you might feel you need to ask visitors to stay away for a few days to give you some space. These feelings will normally pass within ten to 14 days. If your symptoms don’t ease and you feel something more serious is going on, speak to your GP or health visitor.

After the first weeks

Everyone has good days and bad days when it comes to parenting but if you start to feel overwhelmed by the demands on you or and are finding life a struggle there is support out there for you. There are little things we can all do to help look after our mental health including moving more every day, practising mindfulness, doing more feel-good things for yourself, staying physically healthy, getting enough sleep and talking about how you feel.

Having good mental health helps us relax and enjoy our lives more. Every Mind Matters has expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing. Take the Mind Quiz to get a plan with simple wellbeing tips and more support online.

Be open with friends and family about how your feeling is important. Reach out to your GP or health visitor if you feel you’re having lots of bad days.

Click below for more information and a video with mums talking about their experience of postnatal depression:

Breastfeeding aversion

Breastfeeding aversion is when you have negative feelings or intrusive thoughts when your baby is feeding. You might feel:

  • angry or irritated
  • disgusted
  • like your skin is itching or crawling
  • shame and guilt, usually after a feed

These feelings will go away when your baby is no longer latched. If you experience these feelings, it doesn’t always mean that you want to stop feeding your baby and mean you will have these feelings every time you feed your baby. Aversion may be linked to your hormone levels. You could, for example, experience aversion only for a few days each month, perhaps at a certain point in your menstruation cycle or around ovulation.

Sleep deprivation or feeling that your baby is feeding lots can also trigger aversion.

Some things that can help are:

  • A good latch. Make sure the latch isn’t uncomfortable or painful.
  • Distracting yourself when feeding can take your mind off what you’re feeling.
  • Getting more sleep and taking some time out for yourself.
  • Asking your GP for support, especially if your hormones seem to be a factor.

If you have any concerns relating to your mental health reach out to your health visitor or GP. You can call 111 out of hours.

Scroll to Top