17 answers

Sam-e for PPD While Breastfeeding

Hi Moms. I have a 7 month old very active baby girl. She has been crawling since 5.5 months and has been teething for the past month or so. I am a SAHM, and am relatively new to the area. We don't have any family in TX, and since I have a hard time asking for/allowing help from our friends here, I tend to take on pretty much all of the responsibility while my husband works. He also travels every month, leaving me to care for my daughter 24/7. I have breastfed her exclusively, which has been rather exhausting throughout her short life, as she used to eat every 2 hours round the clock. She is sleeping more now at night, but she barely naps. I finally decided that my exhaustion, anxiety, and emotional distress could possibly be more than sleep deprivation related. So, I recently talked to both my OB and a therapist about the possibility of having PPD. While neither one officially diagnosed me during our conversations, my OB gave me a prescription for Zoloft. The therapist didn't seem like a good fit for me, but she did think I had more anxiety than depression (which I agree with). I planned to take the Zoloft, but upon further thought and research, I kind of panicked about the commitment involved with taking an anti-depressant. I also didn't like the thought of the initial dysphoria and the possibility of the side effects. Plus, I don't need anything else to decrease my libido right now.

I had an urgent c-section with my daughter (after planning for a birth center natural childbirth). There were some unusual circumstances that took place during my surgery and I ended up with way more medicine than I needed and it rendered me unable to move from the upper torso down or keep my eyes open when I was in recovery. I guess I'm nervous that taking the anti-depressants could put me in some state of 'lack of control'--and the fact that I would have to go through the step down measures to get off the meds, I just don't feel comfortable taking them. Plus, my issues are manageable much of the time.

I recently visited with a friend who recommended taking Sam-e for anxiety. I currently take a large dose of Omega-3s from fish oil which helps tremendously. I am wondering if Sam-e is safe during breastfeeding. I also am curious about the effectiveness of acupuncture for PPD/anxiety issues. I really would prefer to take a more natural route and would love to hear about any recommendations and good/bad experiences with sam-e or acupuncture. (I do plan to find a new therapist, by the way.) I live in the Euless/Grapevine area and welcome suggestions for holistic docs in the area. Thanks in advance!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you to everyone that responded. I am doing much better now, thanks to time, prayer, family support and a new therapist. I ended up passing on the Sam-e, but did find out that it is recommended postpartum, just not necessarily for breastfeeding moms. I am still happily breastfeeding and my daughter is beginning to sleep through the night (as in the from bedtime to morning, not just the 5 hours). We're still working on getting her to fall asleep on her own, which will help my anxiety, I'm sure. But, I have found that working on my own inner peace by getting back to reading the Bible, praying and just relaxing in those moments of potential angst has really helped.

Featured Answers

A good support network for women depressed after a c section is the International Ceserean Awareness Network -ICAN. There is a chapter here in North Texas that you can join the email group and/or attend the meetings. Go to www.ican-online.org and look up the TExas chapters. I have found them to be such a balm.
Also doing yoga and drinking St. John's Wart tea helped me out tremendously.

I haven't tried that but St. Johns Wort works well for me. I believe it interfers with some birth control.

More Answers

Hello B.,

I am a health coach. I did check out a couple of websites that contained some really good information on SAM-e. I have included the links for you below:
http://biopsychiatry.com/sameart.html and
The second suggests that it has not been proven safe while breast-feeding.

I have another suggestion that I think might be helpful that has worked for a number of my clients. It is called PEA and is a naturally occuring compound in a product I carry. Adults and children alike can consume it.

Current Research has discovered:
*Phenylethylamine (PEA) is known as the "molecule of love." Beside enhancing concentration and attention, PEA is a natural mood elevator and anti-depressant.

Let me know if you would like more information. I wish you all the best.

J. Smith
Health Coach

1 mom found this helpful

I'm sorry I don't have any experience with Sam-e or acupuncture, but I wanted to offer another natural alternative. My sister takes Stress Relief Complex from Shaklee, America's #1 Natural Nutritional Company. She has very high anxiety, which affects her ability to sleep and she sometimes has panic attacks. She loves the Stress Relief Complex; its all-natural and safe, and doesn't make you drowsy. She even gives away samples to people she knows who are feeling very stressed!
Here is a link to the product: http://www.shaklee.net/recipeforhealth/product/20656

1 mom found this helpful

Omega 3's are very important, but some things I would like you to consider are, what is your protein intake? and how much calcium and vitamin D are you getting. These are all of some very important nutrients that can easily become depleted while nursing. They can all affect our energy and sense of well being. When you add all of your life stressors to this I think you must be an amazing person to hold up to all of this and continue to nurse your daughter. It is really wonderful during the times you get to nurse since it does help you to obtain some nurturing hormones of your own, but every 2 hours during the night is above and beyond some days. There are some tips in the Happiest Baby on the Block that may be of help to you. In the meantime there is a lactose and soy free protein shake available at sams that has 22 gms of protein that would certainly begin helping you today (you need about 65 gms daily for your health) It is called Muscle shake. Also Viactiv with vitamin D taken 3 times daily will help with your calcium and vitamin d levels. (you need about 1200-1500 mg daily and they are now saying we need at least 400iu of vitamin D for minimal health when we are not nursing.
I know this sounds like how much can this really help, but I have given shakes to moms in my clinic and they will tell me they actually feel better in 15minutes.
At any rate, it is certainly a nonmedicated easy avenue to try. I hope this is helpful.
K. @ The Nestingplace

Well, I'm with you on taking a holistic, natural approach. I use homeopathy and go to a homeopath in Plano. Her name is Joyce Allenberg and her number is ###-###-####.

Homeopathy helped me with balancing my emotions and anxiety, both after childbirth and the subsequent separation/divorce from my husband. I also did yoga and began studying spirituality. All of it helped and I was finally able to come off of Zoloft (an anti-depressant I had taken for 8 years).

Homeopathy is safe, natural and perfectly fine to take while breast-feeding. As a matter of fact, it would probably help you to have a baby with a healthier disposition and immune system.

Good luck and email me if you have questions. Joyce is very helpful.

Hi B. -
I know this may sound out of left field if you are not familiar but researchers have found that 1 hour of yoga releases as much sarotonin as 2 Zoloft’s.
You would of course need to find a competent teacher who is able to work with you and your issues but I have seen miraculous outcomes from a variety of maladies in my years of teaching and as a student of yoga.
I don't know where you live but you could check out the Yoga Alliance web site to find a qualified teacher in your area or I would be happy to recommend someone for you.
Good Luck!

You should be fine. My Dr put me on Lexapro last November after I had my son. I was really in bad shape. Commercials made me cry... I know how silly. I just now stopped taking them on my own. I have 2 kids and it actually makes you see the difference in a week on how you feel and react to the things tht would stress you out. My husband even noticed a difference in me. Your Dr. wouldn't give you something to make you groggy. As far as the C-section goes that feeling afterwards sucks!!! I had to have it with both kids as I planned on a natural with my daughter and a V-back with my son. I can't remember conversations. It is a major surgery and they have to drug you. Good luck with your decision. Only you can do what you feel is right for you.

You have probably received allot of advice by this time, but I thought I would share with you my experience. I did take the Zoloft after having my second son. I was a SAHM and went through a divorce when my youngest was 6 months old. I had already experienced what I thought was PPD. Prior to taking the Zoloft I had always been a holistic, natural mother. I had an easy natural delivery and my son was a good baby. The breast feeding did take up a large amount of time, but I loved it and wanted my second son to have the same experience as my first who I nursed until he was a year and a half. I had the same reservations about the anti depressants you have
expressed, but realized the other herbal remedies I was trying were not working. I took the lowest dose of zoloft and then moved to the next step when the anxiety was still affecting me. I had no side effects and fairly quickly could feel the benefits of the medicine. I soon could realize the difference between any situational anxiety I was experiencing and the hormonal imbalance from the PPD. I had no problem ending the Zoloft after about 5 months and am extremely grateful I decided to take the Zoloft. I wish you all the luck in whatever solution works best for you.


I know a good holistic minded physician, but not in your area. If you want to travel, she is in East Dallas. If not, perhaps her office can recommend someone closer to you. Her name is Dr. Margaret Christensen MD, www.christensencenter.com. However, you wouldn't need to go often and good physicians are hard to come by.

There could be lots of reasons for your current situation. Sounds like hormonal imbalance could be a culprit. Question is, what is causing it and how to fix it. Most certainly, anti-depressant drugs won't likely fix it, and could make it worse. Careful here.

Things to look at which can all impact hormone function: adequate nutrition (very little sugar), food intolerances (gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, etc), exercise level, sunlight exposure (vitamin D), thyroid function (conventional "norm" is inadequate - need level around 2.0), early bedtime (cercadian rhythm requires between 9-10pm), high quality vitamin supplements (omega 3s, B-12, vitamin C, multi-vitamin, probiotic, digestive enzymes, calcium, magnesium, blue/green algea like chlorella etc.), detoxing the poisons and drugs out of your body, emotional stress in relationships, etc. It's a lot to sort through. A good health provider would probably help you tremendously.

Not all supplents are quality. If it interests you, these are the brands I use:

Omega 3s - Carlson's fish oil in summer and Carlson's cod liver oil in winter for vitamin D from www.mercola.com or health food stores like Whole Foods

Calcium - liquid with Mag and Vit D from www.herbalhealer.com

Magnesium - Natural Calm powder at bedtime from Whole Foods

B-12 - sublingual spray from www.mercola.com

Chlorella - tablets from www.mercola.com

Multi-Vitamin - www.herbalhealer.com

Digestive Enzymes - www.liverdoctor.com

Probiotic - Zymogen brand from Royal Abrams Pharmacy

Good luck!

Hi B., I can't recommend what is the right thing for you. I can tell you that anti-depressants won't make you feel out of control or "drugged". If they do, call the dr. immediately because obviously it is not the right one or dose for you. Doctors can switch meds without you having to come off each one. Not telling your doctor you are stopping is BAD. You do need to follow their recommendations. Now, anti-depressants do have side effects...some more tolerable than others. It just depends on how badly you need it.

Good luck!!

Don't know about Sam-e, sorry, but I do know about being a new mom, exhausted, breast feeding and being new to an area without any family. There is NO harder job in the world or one more rewarding in the long run. Your husband should be made aware this and be more active/hands on than he could ever imagine. You need to find a play group or Moms group that you can find moms in your situation. They talk for free!
Keep up your social contact and let things go...Remember to treat yourself everyday!
Praying for you,

Hi B.,

My mom has had amazing results with Acupuncture and I think it is definately worth a shot. Being a SAHM and full-time parent can be really stressful, not to mention the sleep deprivation. I know I had a really hard time for awhile and I think it was about at 7mths...I just got really run down. Our Acupuncturist is in Carrollton and if you are interested in her information, let me know. Good luck!!!

I haven't tried that but St. Johns Wort works well for me. I believe it interfers with some birth control.

Hi B., Basically with all the 'natural' meds for treating depression/stress/ppd - you are going to find the same answers, that there hasn't been any testing on pregnant or breast feeding mothers. I actually called a friend in Germany where St John's Wort is prescribed for depresson all the time and still got the same answer. I had PPD and was trying to go the natural way and still breastfeed. I landed up taking Zoloft and putting on 30lbs.. yes it helped with the mood swings, but not enough. Then the doctor changed the meds, it helped, but it wasn't fantastic. Luckily my mother was able to come and stay with me so that helped enormously.

2 years later I got to the right doctor who diagnosed me with hypothyriod - he also said that I had had classic systems with manageable PPD with my first and full blown PPD with the 2nd. Apparently those are classic tell tales of thyriod issues.. I'm just putting in that because I wish I'd known earlier.

With acupunture - it'll take time for you to get better. Not only did I study it but I also had it with both my pregnancy. Initally you'll feel a change but it doesn't last until your next visit... it depends how bad you are.

I have heard of a very good GYN holistic doctor & I'll try and get the number for you.

I do have a couple of suggestions..

1) you could stop breastfeeding her (my first wasn't and my second was)& start her on formula. This would really help you with your energy levels & allow you to start to heal youself in the way you need to. She is definately old enough. What she really needs is a healthy happy Mummy & the thing with PPD is it can suddenly turn for the worst - leaving both of you badly & your travelling husband very worried.

2) You need to walk. Bundle her up, put her in a pram and off you go. This is always recommended in England and Europe first. You needs the exercise and fresh air - try and make it daily.

3) You need some friends quickly. You need to get out and join a Mummy's group.

If you want to have a chat please email me. Best of luck.

I use Calms Forte by Hylands. I was told about it by friends who were using it for anxiety after the birth of their children.

I would check with a mid-wife. Here's the website for the Home Birth Association of North Dallas.


Good luck.

B....I had a c-section with my daughter. And I had PPD afterwards .I cried the whole first week she was home and I cannot tell you why, everything made me cry. I went to my Dr. and he prescibed me Lexapro..He told me to take it as long as I thought I needed it. It was great, it made me feel a ton better. I only took it for 6 months and then I was fine. Everyone is different, but this is what helped me.

i was on zoloft several years ago and it was MAGICAL. yes, wonderful. but i would talk to your doctor about what to take since you are breastfeeding

A good support network for women depressed after a c section is the International Ceserean Awareness Network -ICAN. There is a chapter here in North Texas that you can join the email group and/or attend the meetings. Go to www.ican-online.org and look up the TExas chapters. I have found them to be such a balm.
Also doing yoga and drinking St. John's Wart tea helped me out tremendously.

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