December 14, 2023 - 6 min read
December 14, 2023

Nursing, Grieving, Pregnant and Healing: My Journey with PWD

My last feed I had with our daughter when I weaned her (right before my PWD).

Oh goodness, where to start?

I am writing this out through a lot of tears at 12 am while the whole house is asleep and with a sleeping baby in my arms. I hope it will help the next mama. Here is my Post Weaning Depression (PWD) journey.

I guess I could start with my breastfeeding journey which started when our first daughter joined us earth side in April of 2021, a complete miracle after having suffered infertility for 2 years prior. I knew I wanted to exclusively breastfeed (EBF) and was really determined to succeed! Her arrival into this world was beautiful and serene and everything I could have imagined and more – a successful unmedicated vaginal delivery (precipitous as well!)

Stacey Lesnik

She latched within the golden hour and off we went!

My milk didn’t come in for 36 hours so we did have to supplement with formula from the get go, but I preserved and after day 2 we were EBF! I nursed on demand and we quickly fell into the “golden boob” state (which I wasn’t mad about). My love for breastfeeding, our bond and advocating for it really helped us to achieve such a beautiful journey.

However, in May of 2022 I suffered a complete miscarriage which resulted in us losing our second baby, which hit me really hard (as it would anyone). My body struggled for 6 weeks postpartum loss to get back to some form of normalcy, however my hormones didn’t really recover for months.

Our first daughter was only 1 year old when I found out we were expecting again, and I was still nursing her in the mornings and to sleep, as well as any time she showed interest during the day. It’s safe to say booby was her best friend.

In July I found out we were expecting again, which was such incredible news but also the most terrifying. My body was still nursing a (now) toddler, grieving, healing and now trying to sustain a new pregnancy.

Stacey Ultrasound

After my 6 week ultrasound, a subchorionic hemorrhage was found and my OBGYN called me immediately to explain what this meant. Because of my low progesterone, we lost our second pregnancy and my body was unable to sustain the baby.

My progesterone looked fine this time around but the SCH made our chances of another miscarriage extremely high, and when paired with breastfeeding (which suppresses progesterone) I was increasing those chances even more. 

I’ll never forget my OB saying “Stacey, I’m sorry. But I really recommend you stop breastfeeding to give this pregnancy an extra fighting chance”

We quit that day and I had no clue the battle that was ahead of me.

Aside from it being absolutely heartbreaking to pull my daughter’s best friend away from her (and the struggles of weaning!), I also suffered with extreme engorgement, swelling and pain. I was also in my first trimester so I could not take anything to help dry my milk up, or even ease my discomfort.

So many highs and so many lows…

I felt like I was drowning. Like I was struggling to keep my head above water. Numb but sad. Happy, but heartbroken. Angry because it didn’t seem fair to my daughter (and it wasn’t) she also didn’t wean easily either which didn’t make the process any easier.

Aside from the physical pain of weaning, which prompted a call to our local health unit where I (desperately) spoke to a nurse who recommended frozen cabbage leaves in my bra to soothe the inflammation & help to dry up my milk, the emotional toll it took on me was immense. 

I felt really really low, sad most times and emotional. I could cry at the drop of a dime and then be irritated the next. I don’t enjoy doing things that I used to enjoy like going for walks or any of my self care. I was tired all the time and had intense night sweats and my anxiety was at an all time high. I mean, how could I not feel worried about this pregnancy when I lost our last one? And the guilt of weaning my daughter when she wasn’t ready; none of it was fair. 

My daughter and husband "washing my back" while I was relaxing in the tub. One of the things that helped me pull through the darkest time of my life.

My daughter and husband “washing my back” while I was relaxing in the tub. One of the things that helped me pull through the darkest time of my life.

I remember being outside on our acreage and pushing our daughter in the swing and feeling the wind blow past me; almost right through me and thinking, “something is wrong with me. I feel so incredibly sad but yet numb. I know I’m grieving, and I know I’m excited and grateful for this new pregnancy but I’m also terrified of experiencing another loss.”

After about a week I called my doctor, I spoke with her about how I was feeling, everything going on and what I could do about it. She spoke to me about Post Weaning Depression (PWD) and because I’d had such a beautiful journey and experience, that when I stopped breastfeeding my hormones plummeted, and my oxytocin was likely really low (which stays pretty high when you breastfeed) and it left my body (and soul) feeling sad and empty. 

Stacey laying in bed with her toddler and dog

She said, “when you mix weaning with pregnancy loss and now a new pregnancy and all the stress that comes with that, you kind of create this cocktail of a lot of hormones doing crazy stuff and not a lot of room for treatment or options as you are still very early pregnant. 

Let’s give this 2 weeks, if you aren’t feeling any improvement then call me again and we can weigh out your options. Until then, try to get outside and get as much fresh air and sunshine as you can. Try to eat and get enough rest and fluids. Give yourself some grace in the meantime.”

It all made sense to me, having someone tell me I’m not just “pregnant and hormonal” like my friends were saying, but for a professional to explain that “this is a real thing and you are not crazy” really helped me feel validated and seen.

My toes at the beach when I was navigating PWD and my support system (family & husband) were trying to help as much as they could by taking time to spend with me outdoors at one of our favorite places - the lake.

My toes at the beach when I was navigating PWD and my support system (family & husband) were trying to help as much as they could by taking time to spend with me outdoors at one of our favorite places – the lake.

So what did I do? I followed my doctor’s instructions!

I was outside as much as humanly possible for an exhausted and nauseous early pregnant mother of a toddler haha! I prayed a lot and just tried my best to take care of myself. Eventually, over time, my intense feelings of sadness got less and less as my hormones balanced out and I never needed treatments of medications or therapy. I relied heavily on my faith and support system which helped me to work through everything.

Me resting in the Egg chair that my husband purchased for me during our miscarriage that I utilized that whole summer from grieving to navigating the PWD; I was outside as much as possible.

Me resting in the Egg chair that my husband purchased for me during our miscarriage that I utilized that whole summer from grieving to navigating the PWD; I was outside as much as possible.

What I wish for is that this was more commonly talked about and explained to mothers and their partners. That a good latch and supply is just as important as the support it will take when you eventually wean. That this is common and possible and not to panic when it feels like the world is collapsing on you, and that this is temporary.

Stacey and her daughter

I’m really proud to say that I am currently almost 9 months of exclusively breastfeeding our second daughter who joined us earth side (in another beautiful, serene and precipitous manner like her older sister) March of this year.

My milk supply was incredible with her and we’ve never needed to supplement with formula. She has fallen into the golden boob state and we are all okay with it! I plan on nursing her as long as she wants! Our first daughter, who is now 2, will still put her hand on my breast and say “I love you booby. You are my best friend” and even though she is weaned and doesn’t even try to nurse, somehow booby still makes boo-boo’s better which has really helped the transition of our breastfeeding journey to nurture our bond.

Related: Article from “Post-Weaning Depression Is a Thing, And It’s Time We Start Talking About It”

Anyone dealing with post-weaning symptoms can get in touch with a primary care physician, mental health professional or OB-GYN who will help determine the best course of treatment. Post-weaning treatment may include therapy, medication, or supplemental hormones.

For another story about navigating parental mental health challenges, read, “The Dad Perspective: My Journey to Parenthood“.


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Image of Stacey Lesnik

Stacey Lesnik

My name is Stacey and I am a 28 year old wife and mama to two beautiful daughters… basically, we’re raising a tiny girl gang haha! Our home is situated in the heart of the praries in Alberta, Canada and is filled with all the wild things from foxes, deer, moose and our pet Golden Retriever, Finley. I am a huge advocate for mental health, inner peace and all things motherhood, and I truly found myself when I became a mother which is something I cherish so deeply. However, before I was a tiny persons everything, my passions include beauty (I am a retired beauty pageant queen) music, traveling and fitness. I utilize my platform to empower other mamas; whether it's through the trying to conceive journey, pregnancy , birth, postpartum, real life laughs or feeling confident with a new cute outfit idea. But most of all, I really want anyone I interact with to know that I am down to earth, and always up for a good chat with an iced coffee in hand.



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