A heartbroken husband has reached out to new mums after his wife took her own life, following a battle with post-natal depression.
Florence Leung gave birth to a baby boy last September, but less than two months later, she went missing. After a lengthy search, her body was found off the coast of Vancouver in November. She had tragically taken her own life.
Now, as he raises his son alone, the dad has penned a heartfelt message to all new mums that they are not alone and are not failing if they don’t manage to breastfeed.
In a Facebook group dedicated to his wife’s memory, Chen urged new mothers to seek help if they are struggling, like his wife was.
“For all the new mums experiencing low mood or anxiety, please seek help and talk about your feelings,” he wrote. “You are Not alone. You are Not a bad mother.”
The dad went on to speak specifically about the pressures and misconceptions surrounding breastfeeding.
“Do not EVER feel bad or guilty about not being able to “exclusively breastfeed”, even though you may feel the pressure to do so based on posters in maternity wards, brochures in prenatal classes, and teachings at breastfeeding classes,” he continued.
“Apparently the hospitals are designated “baby-friendly” only if they promote exclusive-breastfeeding. I still remember reading a handout upon Flo’s discharge from hospital with the line “Breast Milk Should Be the Exclusive Food For the Baby for the First Six Months”, I also remember posters on the maternity unit “Breast is Best”.”
“While agreeing to the benefits of breast milk, there NEED to be an understanding that it is OK to supplement with formula, and that formula is a completely viable option.”
The new dad said he planned on speaking more about the subject in the future. He also shared an article about another young mum who sadly passed away last year after suffering from post-natal depression. According to the dad, the woman’s personality reminded him of his own wife and her similar battle with the condition.
According to recent statistics at least one in ten mums will suffer from post-natal depression after giving birth. Symptoms include anger, withdrawal, lack of connection to the baby, worrying about harming the baby or themselves, and feelings of guilt and failure. And for many new mums suffering from the condition being unable to breastfeed only exacerbates their struggles.
As does feeling too embarrassed or scared to speak up about what they are going through, for fear they will be judged as an inadequate mother.
Last year, Adele spoke out about her own battle with post-natal depression.
Talking to Vanity Fair about the condition, the 28-year-old singer revealed that it has caused her to feel concerned about having more children with her partner Simon Konecki.
“I’m too scared,” she told the publication when asked if she’d like to have another baby. “I had really bad postpartum depression after I had my son and it frightened me.”
Describing the symptoms she experienced, Adele explained that postpartum depression can come in many different guises.
“My knowledge of postpartum… or post-natal, as we call it in England is that you don’t want to be with your child; you’re worried you might hurt your child; you’re worried you weren’t doing a good job.”
“But I was obsessed with my child. I felt very inadequate; I felt like I’d made the worst decision of my life. It can come in many different forms.”
Commenting on Adele’s speaking out about her experience of post-natal depression, Sarah McMullen, NCT (National Childbirth Trust) Head of Knowledge, said:
“Adele is incredibly brave for speaking out about her battle with postnatal depression. Her honesty will help break the stigma around postnatal depression and stop women in the same situation feeling so alone.”
And Sarah believes Adele’s speaking out may help encourage other mums to seek help.
“She offers some great advice about mums talking to other mums, friends and family about their feelings. Speaking out can be such a hard thing to do but it’s often the first step on the road to recovery,” she continued.
“Getting help early can make all the difference. If you feel something is wrong don’t suffer in silence, speak to your midwife, health visitor or GP.”
And if breastfeeding struggles are contributing to feelings of depression or anxiousness, hopefully Chen’s message will encourage new mums to speak out about that too. Because as much as the health benefits of breastfeeding are widely discussed, that shouldn’t come at the detriment to the mental or physical health of mothers.
What do you think? Did you suffer from post-natal depression? Let us know @YahooStyleUK