I want to tell a story about a friend who was having difficulty producing milk for her new baby [who will graduate from high school this spring, 2012]. She lived in Ithaca at the time and was driving back with her husband from a visit to her mom in Montreal.
On the way, she tried to nurse her boy who was crying hard, unable to get any milk. The mother, in frustration and discouragement, began to cry hard herself for 10 minutes. When she was finished, her milk came in and she never had a problem nursing again.
I told this story to my adult ESL class a few years after the event. One of my students was a midwife from Germany. She then told us that most German midwives are aware of the relationship between tears and milk production. Her experience –and of her colleagues–was that the moms who cried in the early weeks had no problem with nursing. The moms who did not often did have problems.
So here’s the conclusion. I believe that postpartum depression is a beneficial evolutionary adaptation. Crying both helps milk production and relieve the depression. I do not think the psychiatric drugs currently prescribed is useful for moms.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!