Young mothers, do you know how to recognize the milk blues (less well known than the baby blues)?

Young mothers, do you know how to recognize the milk blues (less well known than the baby blues)?

Less known than baby blues, milk blues affects many mothers at the end of breastfeeding, whether it was satisfactory or, on the contrary, difficult. A situation which can be explained both hormonally, psychologically and socially, as the experts contacted explain to us.

Feeling depressed, tired, even anxious when you have started weaning your little one is not surprising. The phenomenon even has a name, the milk blues, (in reference to the famous baby blues felt by many women) which designates this period of depression which sets in when mothers make the decision, forced or not, to put an end to their breastfeeding.

A little-discussed stage… Until now

In fact, whether they have experienced difficult breastfeeding or, on the contrary, radiant breastfeeding, many women feel this real sluggishness tinged with nostalgia when the time comes to stop this function. “I questioned my role as a mother, wondering how to share so many intense moments with my son.” evokes Laurianne, a mother testifying in Slate. “I felt a part of jealousy within me facing all these mothers who manage to breastfeed without problem, even for years, even though I had put everything in place to achieve this” opposes Camille, another mother. However, if the majority of women feel regret, ranging from a pang in the heart to depression, few of them are aware of the phenomenon which has had a name since the 2020s.

A drop in hormones involved

To explain this feeling, several reasons converge. The milk blues has not yet been studied by science. But we do know, however, that it is like the baby blues, linked in part to a drop in hormones and in particular a drop in oxytocin levels.

“Breastfeeding involves the release of oxytocin, a hormone often called the “love hormone” (also released during kissing) which plays on the feeling of well-being and the establishment of the mother-child bond. Oxytocin plays a fundamental role in strengthening this bond. Also, when you stop breastfeeding, oxytocin production decreases, this can affect the mother’s mood and generate feelings of sadness or depression. warns us Amélie Boukhobza, psychologist, and member of our committee of experts. This is part of the reason, which is however not the only one.

The end of an exclusive bubble

For our psychologist, this state is also an emotional break. From a more psychological point of view, stopping breastfeeding means saying goodbye to a bubble in which the mother and her baby find themselves almost outside the world, outside of time and where they are almost self-sufficient. same. “So, coming out to return to the world is the end of something that must be mourned: the end of this fusion phase between the baby and his mother. And it can be more or less difficult! Telling yourself that you are no longer everything to him, that he will create other links and other resources, can lead to this depressive state… even if you know that it is essential for his development and his blossoming!” continues the psychologist.

A poorly lived societal injunction

Finally, socially, breastfeeding is known for its benefits for the child. Some mothers may feel guilt or feelings of inadequacy when they stop breastfeeding if they feel they are not meeting these standards. Others feel forced against their will to stop, to return to their job for example. An aberration for Carole Hervé, lactation consultant and trainer contacted: “eDo we “have” to stop this breastfeeding? I am not for these injunctions. It is the notion of pleasure in reality and not the return to work or the given age of a baby which should decide on weaning.

In fact, in both cases, the mother loses when she has to stop for external causes. “Either breastfeeding was not going well, or on the contrary it was going very well, but we made this mother understand that she must stop to going back to work, which is false because solutions exist. As a result, she is often regretful.”

The right time to quit is the one you choose

Can we avoid these milk blues when weaning? There would be at least one good way to do it, confirms the advisor.

“Weaning does not have to be done abruptly (except in the unique case of serious illness). There is no reason to go from everything to nothing when the body took 9 months to create this baby, and between 2 and 6 weeks to establish solid breastfeeding. It must therefore be just as gradual to stop and without any obligation to replace each feeding with a bottle.

As for the right time for you, to avoid any stress, the expert is clear:

“The appropriate time to wean your baby and stop breastfeeding is the moment when the mother has made a conscious decision, in her timing, that she feels ready, and not because of the injunctions of those around her. After 4 days, 6 months, or two years, that decision doesn’t belong to anyone else.”