Friday, May 4, 2007

Baby Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue?

Like many women, I've suffered periods of mild depression in my life. They were usually spurred by some outside event - work, changing cities, switching jobs, or everyone's favorite purveyor of the blues - heartbreak. Throw in the usual hormones and well.... it wasn't pretty, folks. The longest period of depression in my life was in the year 2000. Without going into detail, let's just say that I never want to live like that again. Since I know I am prone to mild depression anyway, I was very worried about post-partum depression. VERY worried. Imagine my surprised relief when I only had a few weeks of baby blues after my son was born. I felt very flat emotionally, but not really unhappy or sad. Just flat. And then it passed.

I read this article about how breastfeeding and healthy fats can help with post-partum depression and it was like having a V8. No wonder! I knew the part about breastfeeding, because the effects of that lovely, lovely hormone, Oxytocin, has been reported before. Besides, I think as most breastfeeding mothers can attest, there are few sweeter feelings than that first initial moment when your baby latches on and your milk lets down. An indescribable feeling that is just..... sweet. When breastfeeding is going well, it feels GOOD - as it SHOULD, since nature probably wants to encourage us in continuing*. Anyway, the other part of the article concerning healthy fats fascinated me because I take flaxseed oil as a regular part of my diet (flaxseed supplements and soymilk with flaxseed oil in it). In addition, my husband is South Indian and demands fish as a part of his daily diet, so we eat loads of fish (the good, low-mercury ones, like salmon and cod. Charlie's not allowed in our house). Obviously, more research would probably need to be done on this, but it may be worth it for mothers at a higher risk for depression to consider adding more healthy fats into their diet.

*Total Tangent: Does anyone else remember a big scandal about 10 years ago when a mother "admitted" that breastfeeding felt good? People were OUTRAGED that a mother would feel pleasure while breastfeeding. Even though I was firmly entrenched in my Armchair Parenting days back then, I specifically remember thinking that was the stupidest thing ever for folks to criticize. Even then, it seemed logical to me that a mother would get some sort of physical pleasure from breastfeeding. Not all pleasure has to be sexual! I've been known to swoon over a plate of spicy, cold Sichuan noodles. I think I may have proposed marriage. True story.

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