• Essential Reads: Lithium and Breastfeeding

    Because women with bipolar disorder are at high risk for relapse during the postpartum period, we typically recommend that women continue treatment with lithium throughout the postpartum period.  While this intervention clearly decreases risk for postpartum psychiatric illness, the use of lithium while breastfeeding presents certain challenges.  

    You Asked: Is Smoking While Breastfeeding Safe?

    This is one of the most common questions sent in to our website.  Many women ask if it is safe to smoke while they are breastfeeding.  Smoking is relatively common during pregnancy, with about 10% of all women smoking at some point during their pregnancy. The rates are even higher among women with psychiatric illness.  While many women may be able to stop smoking or reduce their intake during pregnancy, most women resume smoking during the postpartum period.  And women who suffer from postpartum depression are at even higher risk for smoking relapse.

    Psychological Distress in the Mother May Affect Levels of Immunoglobulins in Breast Milk

    We have seen multiple studies which indicate that postpartum depression (PPD) interferes with breastfeeding.  Postpartum women who suffer from depression are less likely to breastfeed, and they typically breastfeed for a shorter duration than women who are not depressed.  A recent study looks at an entirely different question, asking whether postpartum stress affects the quality of the breast milk.  In this study, the researchers focused on levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA) in the breast milk.  (Immunoglobulins or antibodies are passed from the mother to the baby through the breast milk and help to confer immunity.)

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