Post-weaning blues: is it normal?

Your Body & Wellbeing   |   Age: 6 months 2 weeks


Post-weaning blues

It's pretty well-known among new moms that there's a chance of postpartum depression, but the emotional drop that can happen when breastfeeding mothers wean tends to get a lot less press. And like the postpartum roller coaster, the "weaning blues" can range from a simple feeling of being overwhelmed, to more potentially serious symptoms of postpartum depression.

In fact, weaning is listed as a common cause of what’s sometimes called late-onset postpartum depression, so there’s a reason the two can feel very similar. Since they are reactions to different hormonal events, though, they can also present differently, even in the same person. If that sounds frustratingly vague, that’s because it is - the majority of the information on post-weaning blues and depression is anecdotal, because little scientific research on it has been done on postpartum depression as it relates to weaning. Researchers at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill are mid-way through a 5-year study of several hundred women who went into the study planning to breastfeed, and the preliminary research on 52 pregnant women followed through birth and breastfeeding found a strong connection between changes in oxytocin, one of the feel-good hormones released during breastfeeding, and depression and anxiety levels.

According to the CDC, between 8 and 19% of American women report experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression. That statistic doesn’t differentiate between early and late-onset depression, and also doesn’t include the harder-to-pin-down post-weaning blues that may not be an exclusively chemical response.

What can I do about it?

If you haven’t yet started weaning, and you have the chance to do it gradually rather than all at once, taking a bit of extra time to let your body acclimate to the change in your hormones as they start to shift may help. More than that, getting the chance to feel in control, and like both you and your baby are ready to wean, can soften the emotional impact of the changing connection between you and your baby as you wean.

As you wean, making sure to keep a healthy diet rich in omega-3s, and to be regularly physically active can help your body to get back on track as it changes again. Women who haven’t gotten their periods back during breastfeeding often report that their depression lifts at or around the time their period comes back, though for others it doesn’t even start until that point. Many women report that post-weaning blues or depression goes away on its own after a few weeks or a few months, but many others turn to medical help to get past it.

If post-weaning depression lasts longer than a few weeks, or starts to feel like it’s hurting your ability to be the parent you want to be, it may be time to consult your healthcare provider. Depending on the degree of depression and personal medical history, your healthcare provider may prescribe some combination of talk therapy and antidepressants. More alternative providers may also recommend trying acupuncture or massage, herbal remedies, or vitamin supplements like B-complex.

If, for any reason, you're reluctant to go straight to your healthcare provider with feelings that you think might be related to postpartum depression at any time, it's still important to reach out to someone, whether that someone is your partner, a family member, or a friend. Support during this time can make a big difference for both you and your child.


More articles at this age

Your baby's sense of smell

your baby 's nose isn't just the cutest thing ever - it's also highly functional. Right now her sense of smell is one of her most developed senses.

Help! My baby's nap patterns are changing

your baby needs a lot less sleep these days, which means it's probably fine to start changing the hours that you have her take naps. As her circadian rhythms get more developed, your baby will be more receptive to this kind of rescheduling.

Helping baby avoid picky eating

Admit it, it's kinda funny to watch your baby spit out food that she doesn't like. But that gets old really quick, for both you and your kitchen floors. Don't take it personally. Just find out why it could be happening, and what you can do to try and fix it.

Napping during an illness

Illnesses can mess up travel plans and dinner plans, but things really start to get tricky when they start to mess with sleeping plans.

Is what you're feeling normal?

Everybody has scary or concerning thoughts now and then, and while highly common and normal, uncontrollable thoughts that are overly intense and persistent can become a problem.

Stages of crawling

It's not like your baby can just get up and crawl any time. The process is pretty complex - this being said, you can definitely be on the lookout for certain signs that she is starting to try!

Welcome to lil'bee!

It looks like you're using an ad blocker. That's okay. Who doesn't? But without advertising-income, we can't keep making this site awesome. Please disable your ad blocker and refresh this page.

Thanks for understanding 🙏