On top of all the life changes that come with adding a new member to the family, birthing a baby changes your body. Physical changes can take their toll, but hormonal changes during the pregnancy and postpartum period can also leave you feeling anything from full of happiness to deep levels of sadness — or both.
If you’re experiencing feelings of depression, your doctor may prescribe medication to help. One common concern when breastfeeding is whether a medication will impact your baby and their development.
This is something you should talk through with your doctor, but we’ve also included some information about Zoloft — a commonly prescribed medication — and breastfeeding to get you started.
Zoloft is the brand name for prescription sertraline oral tablets. Outside of pregnancy and the postpartum period, it’s often prescribed to treat:
- obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- major depressive disorder
- panic disorder
- social anxiety disorder
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- premenstrual dysphoric disorder
Zoloft can be used alone or in combination with other drugs and therapies.
Zoloft may be prescribed by doctors for people experiencing depression, OCD, or panic attacks in the postpartum period — although it’s not specifically approved for postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression impacts a significant number of people in the year following childbirth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says nearly
Note that there is an FDA-approved medication for postpartum depression (brexanolone) that your doctor may prefer to prescribe for you.
Yes, Zoloft can pass into breast milk. While more research is needed in this area, current
In general, Zoloft is considered fairly safe for people who are breastfeeding.
When thinking about the safety of a medication, doctors will consider the ramifications of not prescribing a medication.
Without treatment, some people with postpartum depression may become suicidal or experience other serious health consequences. Additionally, there are potential effects for the baby, as depressed people may not be able to provide appropriate care or bond with their baby.
Doctors know that in general, breastfeeding has positive effects for both you and your baby. It can increase attachment and feelings of bonding. It also offers nutritional benefits to babies and health benefits to both of you.
The benefits of breastfeeding are weighed against the risks of Zoloft while breastfeeding, and in most cases, doctors have determined it safe to continue breastfeeding while on Zoloft.
Potential side effects of Zoloft include:
- a slight decrease in milk production (however, this is generally correctable with increased feeds or pumping between feeds)
- increased sweating and urination
- nausea or lack of appetite
- decreased sex drive
And there is a small risk of serious side effects that you shouldn’t ignore. If you find yourself with increased thoughts of suicide or worsening depression, call your doctor immediately.
As for your little one, minimal negative effects have been observed in breastfed babies. No long-term studies have conducted, though.
It’s important to note that Zoloft may have negative impacts on your baby when taken during pregnancy. Your doctor can help you to weigh different potential risks and benefits in this situation.
There are a variety of ways to treat postpartum depression that range from natural remedies and lifestyle changes to medication. Your doctor can help you to determine which options make the most sense for your specific situation and symptoms. Some potential forms of treatment include:
- regular exercise
- meditative practices
- massage therapy
- talk and group therapy
- rebalancing of your diet (this frequently means increasing omega-3 intake as well as other vitamins/minerals)
- other medications, like brexanolone
The “baby blues” are extremely common in the first few weeks after giving birth. But if feelings of depression are lingering beyond that timeframe and preventing you from participating in everyday life activities, notify your doctor. You don’t have to wait until your 6-week postpartum appointment.
You should also seek help right away if you find yourself experiencing hallucinations, paranoia, or obsessive thoughts as these can be signs of a more serious condition called postpartum psychosis.
Be sure your doctor knows that you’re breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed any time they’re prescribing new medications for any reason.
After giving birth, there are physical and hormonal transformations in addition to lifestyle changes. In some cases, this can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety.
It’s important to let your doctor know that you’re breastfeeding or intend to. They can then weigh this into their recommendations.
Whether Zoloft or another course of action is recommended, it’s a good idea to find support and encouragement in your postpartum journey from other new parents locally or in a variety of online forums. You aren’t alone.