April 2, 2009

Postpartum Depression: A father's comment

Shortly after posting New Mother, Breastfeeding I received a comment online. The original comment had a lot of names in it, which I have removed. I am posting the comment with permission.

Hey Dr. Wolffe,

[Our son] was born Jan 18th, which makes him just eight weeks old today. You've been seeing his mother since his second week or or so. His mother will be in with him on Tuesday I believe. We were so thankful for gaining you as [his] pediatrician.

Now for the topic of discussion. my wife still struggles daily with breast feeding. We've had many a discussion, and for the most part I try to back off and let her handle it. Their her breasts, not mine. Her mothers made comments about her sister not having the same troubles. She's had problems with engorgement, so on and so forth. But, everything is getting better from day to day as well. He screams at the top of his lungs when he's hungry. My wife still gets up at all hours of the night. We hardly sleep together since she's up so much. We've had lots of help over the past few weeks from her mom and sister. During the first couple of weeks my mother was here helping out with what she could. Every now and then I see the PPD monster climb out, but after a little bit of rest and noticeable improvement with the baby, PPD settles down. I am the husband, and I feel a little depressed from time to time. I'm not to worried about it since overall, I am happier than I've been in years. Marriage and fatherhood have been great for me. Now if we can just keep ironing out all the wrinkles that come along with being new parents.
My wife's number one complaint is pain from him tugging on her breasts.
#2 is her sore wrists. He's getting heavy fast. Heck I'm twice her size and he strains my wrists too.

For her first complaint, I've asked her to continue to go to breast feeding class, so they can help her master the technique. I notice sometimes her posture and technique of latching don't go hand in hand with what I watched her being taught at Alta Bates [Hospital]. I tried to point these things out, but it mainly causes arguments.

I have sat with her and helped with the entire process. I do admit, she's getting better, and the baby's feeding better. In the evening I don't think she's producing so much milk, so a couple of times we have supplemented formula to give him a full belly. This takes care of the crying.
Her sore wrists don't seem to be getting any better yet. I have purchased her several different athletic supports (splints) to help out, but they aren't working too well. I've asked her to ice, but I've never seen her actually do it or heard her say she has. Being an wrestler in high school, college, and post college, I can attest to ice being the miracle drug for joint pain, bursitis, strains, sprains. Icing twenty minutes on and ten minute ice massage are uncomfortable at first, but they works.

Today we went out to REI in Berkeley, and ended up cutting our trip short as she was having too much pain in her wrist to breast feed him in the car. I realize this is uncomfortable, so I encouraged her to put a pillow or something in the car so she can feed him comfortable. We went home.

I was very pleased this afternoon to get him to take a pacifier for about twenty minutes. He did well. I can see smoother sailing ahead for all.

So for all concerned, we keep telling ourselves the benefits the baby will receive from breastfeeding will far out way a strictly formula diet.

Next Post: My response and follow up

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