When 'Breast Is Best' is taken to the limit

I might be a little behind the eight ball with this one, as this story has been sitting on my screen for a while a now.

I was shocked and amazed at the outcome of this story, only because you would think that in this day and age people would have the brains to help someone in this situation.

This article from the Daily Mail on the 2nd January 2014, describes the shocking turn of events after a mother gives birth to her daughter in 2010. After suffering severe post-natal depression, Joe Bingley took her own life because of the pressures of breast feeding compounding her, the post-natal depression went undiagnosed for too long and her health professionals didn't act on the warning signs.



The article tells how Joe previously had miscarried and suffered PND from then on. After many years of trying, Joe and husband Chris, were thrilled to find that they were again pregnant and in February 2010 Emily was born.

Image from Daily Mail 

Chris goes on to describe the tears and the struggles Joe fought in those first few days with her daughter. Breastfeeding is endorsed by all Midwives, across the world! There is nothing better than breast milk, they'll tell you. Joe was told this too, she however, took that information and created her own personal hell. She struggled and the hospital kept her and Emily in for two nights. After that stay things seemed to be ok.

Then Emily started to become restless and crying a lot, causing stress for Joe. She wasn't producing enough milk and baby Emily wasn't getting enough to eat and was losing weight. They returned to the hospital for further assistance and Chris describes that Joe was hooked up to a breast pump for the day and her breasts were battered and bruised. He goes on to say that the staff were aware that she was presenting with symptoms of PND, yet they only focused on the feeding issue, never referring her to a specialist.

When Chris asked if feeding their child by bottle was an option, he was told that unless either parent specifically asks for information regarding bottle feeding, then they were to raise the subject ...

As you would suspect, Chris asked for the assistance and for the first time in 10 days Joe fed her baby by bottle and she fell asleep in her arms.

Joe came home after that and was not the same woman she had once been. Eventually she went to see a GP her finally diagnosed the PND and prescribed her anti-depressants, but it wasn't until ten days before her death that her real pain started to surface.

Joe's sister contacted Chris when Joe had told her that she wanted to drive her car into a brick wall or off a cliff because she could see no way out. The GP referred them to a crisis team who decided to care for her at home as apposed to a mother and baby ward at a psychiatric ward where she could have been monitored and cared for. Her condition worsened and from there, lead her fateful end.

Imagine waking one morning without your wife beside you, your parents who were staying with you to help hadn't seen her, you cannot find her at her usual spots. Then you here on the news that a person had been killed by a train, only to have the police come your home to confirm your worst nightmare.

Chris has lost everything, trying to get to the bottom of why his wife wasn't given adequate care leading up to her death. If proper steps were taken from the start, maybe she would still be here.

I know first hand, the stress you are put under regarding breastfeeding. When I had Mikayla, in 2003, I was 21 years old. Lost in a world of nappies and milk! I wanted to do everything the right way and from the minute I met the midwives at the hospital, it was drummed into us that we had to breastfeed our baby. She was breastfed until I couldn't cope any longer.

I remember vividly sitting in the recliner at 2 or 3 in the morning, with a baby that would't latch on and screaming. I sat there with tears streaming down my face, shaking to the point I worried I might drop her. My breasts were aching, my tummy was aching, I was a right old mess. That night hubby put his foot down and said that breastfeeding wasn't working. I cried more and more, because I felt that I was letting her down, I wasn't providing the nutrients she needed. The week before, my health nurse ensured me that I would be fine and to keep pushing on as my baby needed my milk to help her grow and fight off bacteria.

What a load of crap.

I'm not saying that breast milk isn't beneficial to babies. I take my hat off to those who can do it, as it is a hard task to manage. What I mean is, that when you are emotionally or mentally not coping with the situation, you need to put yourself first, because when you are not working at your best, then you are no use to anyone, especially your baby.

I started to express and bottle feed. That last until she was six months old but it was then that I realised that I wasn't coping and I admitted I couldn't do it anymore. We put her on formula and it was the best move I could've done as it allowed me to regain some normality after what was such a huge change in our lives.

I didn't know it at the time, but I was suffering from PND. My doctor -years later- asked how I had coped after the birth. I gave her a quick run down and diagnosed what myself, my husband, family, midwives and health nurse all missed. Maybe someone knew and said nothing. But for years I struggled with my 'emotions' and just soldiered on.

My heart goes out to Chris and their families as this would be frustrating to know that they services that are there to assist you, let you down. I honestly believe that Midwives and Health Nurses, need to back off a little. They need to see the bigger picture. If a woman is struggling and her mental state is not great, give her some options, generally that would eliviate what is compounding her.
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