Can Breast Milk Go Bad From Stress? – Cause, Effect, And Advice

Raising a baby is difficult, but adding the stress of things like work and household chores makes it even more difficult. It is bound to take a toll on your mental ability to handle things. When your baby is born, you have enough things on your plate, add other things to it, and it will generate stress both mentally and physically.

It’s normal for a new mother to be in a depressive mood lasting for about 2 weeks just after giving birth. If this lasts with some noticeable symptoms, it is termed postpartum depression and anxiety, resulting in up to 20% of women after childbirth. One of the symptoms is stress, which creates a breastfeeding problem due to the release of stress-induced cortisol hormones.

Stress not only affects the new mom but also affects their newborn. Stress is majorly interlinked with postpartum depression, and so there is a lot to unpack here and understand what the symptoms are, why it happens, and what you can do about it. Let’s dive in and try to understand all these intermingled terms, and hopefully, you will find answers to your questions in the process.

What causes stress in new moms?

A young new mom is stressing out and being comforted by her mom.

Before we jump into the breastfeeding problems caused by stress in new moms, I think it’s vital to understand numerous things that cause stress in new moms.

As a woman and mother, you already have many things to worry about and add being a working woman to it, and it’s bound to stress new mothers out.

Carrying a child is just one part of being a mom but what comes after giving birth to your little one is a different story altogether. As a woman, you go through a puzzle of emotions or known as mood swings after childbirth. This results in new moms going through feeling down for a while, anxiety, or even stress.

Although not every new mom might go through the same journey, almost half of them suffer from the issues mentioned above, and some experience postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression, in simple terms, is feeling these negative emotions on a much stronger and deeper level which also lasts longer than other issues. To help you get an idea of the same, below mentioned are some symptoms that new moms suffer from:

  • Feeling down
  • Not able to enjoy the usual things you used to
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Poor concentration
  • Low self-esteem
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or the baby

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with feeling all the emotions mentioned above and facing all these issues. All you need is to get the right treatment and loving support from your partner.

How does stress affect the milk supply?

A stressed out new mom is not in a good state of mind, and it's resulting in her having a poor breast milk supply.

When you’re with your child, your psychological state of mind is of great importance. After giving birth, if you go through mood swings, feeling low, depression, anxiety, or stress, it affects your child differently, one of which is through breastfeeding. Your psychological state of mind may affect the immune properties of breast milk and negatively impact your child.  

Following are some factors that affect the production of milk if you are facing stress lately:

Milk Supply

To have a healthy supply of milk, you need to regularly feed your baby within a short period and turn this into a habit or routine you follow for 6 months. But if you are stressed, you might not feed often and forget when to feed, which directly affects your milk, leading to reduced breast milk production.

Let-down reflex

It is responsible for making breast milk freely available, and stress-induced moms often have a slow let-down reflex. Stress leads to an increased adrenaline production in your body which blocks your hormones prolactin and oxytocin, responsible for the let-down reflex.

Cortisol breast milk

When in stress, a hormone called cortisol is released by your body to prepare you to handle alarming or fearful situations, increasing the brain’s glucose consumption and suppressing the digestive system. This hormone gets released in breast milk and ends up being consumed by your baby, to which they are susceptible.

How to increase your milk supply

A young mom who is happily bonding with her baby, is getting a better milk supply as a result of it.

Although I can’t help you completely get over the issues responsible for inducing stress in you, I can surely help you with some tips and advice to increase your breast milk production. Below are some things that I hope can help you relax while you feed your baby:

Massaging or providing warmth

It would help if you started massaging your breasts with slight pressure as it increases your milk production and improves the overall flow of milk at an even pace. There are products available in the market that are suggested to provide warmth to your breasts and promote a let-down.

Soothing music

When you’re stressed, music is always a way that can help you relax. Instead of listening to high-pitched, loud music, you should switch to soothing lullabies, white noise, or melodies. Play this while you’re feeding your little one and focus on the music instead of thinking about situations that induce stress in you.

Baby smell and touch

Being as close to your baby as often as you can go to helping you a long way. Not only does it help in strengthening your bond with your little one, but it also helps in an increased production of breast milk. That amazing baby smell that comes off of their head and skin-to-skin touch with your little one is two things you should do as often as possible.

Being happy

I know this is a cliched thing to say and not as instantly done as told, but laughing and generally being happy is right for you and your little munchkin. Avoid watching or listening to things that create stress to you as much as you can. If watching news gives you stress or listening to a toxic person talk does the same, then cut these things away from your life.

How to help reduce stress at home

A young Asian mother is meditating at home to help reduce stress in her life.

When talking about stress, a mild form of it is not harmful when it is short-termed or situation-related, but it is a worrying matter if you’re always consumed by it. Then stress will start affecting you mentally, emotionally, and physically. It will disrupt your day-to-day routines, and you won’t be able to maintain a healthy relationship with people around you.

Bringing up a child is a big responsibility that requires you to be mentally and emotionally stable and healthy. Only when you’re happy and stress-free will you be able to raise your child healthily too.

By following some of the tips that I mention here might help reduce your stress at home:

  • Exercising is crucial for your body and overall health and helps alleviate your mood by producing endorphins, reducing stress and anxiety.
  • Meditation also helps a lot of people when they find themselves in a lot of stress or anxiety. It won’t be easy at first but starting with a short span, say 10 minutes, increasing it gradually can help you find peace and stability in life as well.
  • Meeting with friends and family members who have a more positive outlook in their lives. The energy you surround yourself with also affects you in many ways. Try to surround yourself with people who have good and positive energy and try to meet up with them often.
  • Developing a hobby gives you the much-required alone time that you wouldn’t have been able to get due to your busy work life. Setting aside at least 20 minutes to follow up on one of your hobbies is essential in reducing stress. Be it gardening or reading a book, do try to develop at least one hobby.
  • Proper sleep goes a long way to helping you lead a more stable and peaceful life too. Don’t forget to get a much-needed 7-hour sleep in a day in the process of hustling.

Takeaway

Long-term stress has never been good for anyone. As a new mom, if you recognize that you have been suffering from it, it is better to act on it early as possible and find solutions to relieve your stress.

As I have already mentioned multiple times that having a stable mental and emotional condition is essential to raise your child healthily, I have also explained why it is necessary and how stress can affect you and your baby. Some factors affect your breast milk when stressed and how it affects your baby’s immunity if not taken care of.

I hope by going through the tips and advice on how to increase your milk production and how to reduce stress at home, I have helped you at least a little bit. You can do anything you set your mind to, and with a loving partner by your side, I hope you will be able to overcome the stress you have been facing.

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