Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, see our mental health web guide which can point you to expert advice.

This is one of the saddest things I have ever read.

(38 Posts)
MadIsTheNewNormal Fri 03-Jan-14 07:22:53

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2532940/The-breast-best-obsession-mother-driven-life-This-new-mum-taken-hospital-TWICE-feed-baby-pleas-help-went-unheeded.html

Sorry it's the DM but it's worth putting your hatred aside for five minutes and reading it.

I am going to link this thread to the breastfeeding forum as well, because I think her husband makes some very pertinent points about the pressure/focus on her to BF by HCPs at the expense of her mental wellbeing. I do support BFing, I really do, but sometimes I feel that the current policy to really push BFing at all costs smacks of fiddling while Rome burns.

Obviously this poor woman was was so far into MH crisis that it probably made no difference to her ultimately, but I do feel that many women could perhaps be saved from a slide into PND if they only they could feel less overwhelmed by the guilt of struggling to succeed at BFing, and less societal pressure to BF at all costs. sad

MadIsTheNewNormal Fri 03-Jan-14 07:24:06
Timpani Fri 03-Jan-14 07:32:31

How tragic sad

I don't think that bf is entirely to blame though.

Wishfulmakeupping Fri 03-Jan-14 07:33:38

Heartbreaking. So many failings and missed chances to help her.

MadIsTheNewNormal Fri 03-Jan-14 07:39:46

No it isn't Timpani, of course not, but I do think so many new mums get themselves into such a stew over it, and suffer mentally and needlessly as a result. I know I did.

Tanya28 Fri 03-Jan-14 07:45:05

I knew her through work and she was a fantastic person. It's an awfully tragic story which no doubt will sadly be repeated.

perplexedpirate Fri 03-Jan-14 07:59:09

Awful. Just awful. The saddest thing is I'm not surprised. The pressure to breast feed has gone too far. Women need to be given the relevant facts and then trusted to make an informed and adult decision instead of being pressured and infantilised.
That poor, poor woman. sad

EvenFlo Fri 03-Jan-14 08:10:17

I agree that for this lady the breast feeding issue is only part of the story however I have been saying for quite some time that I feel the breast is best obsession has the potential to be incredibly damaging in terms of mental health.

I myself suffered PND and feel in some part the breastfeeding issue contributed to this - I was not able to BF for various reasons but was made to feel guilty about this by the militant BF midwives in my local hospital. It's just a small thing but I was offered no help or support with the decision to FF which for an anxious, depressed FTM simply added another difficulty.

I also feel quite strongly that PND is very poorly treated / understood by the healthcare and wider community. This tragic case shows that perfectly. I don't necessarily feel that this is the 'fault' of mental health services though - this is the fault of a government that consistently neglects mental health services, slashing funding left, right and centre. In mental health (I work in this field) we have been the poor relations for years, getting nowhere near the amount of monetary input as other branches of medicine. Similarly, mental health charities struggle because for some reason people simply don't give to them - there are donkey charities that get more donations than some mental health groups.

This case saddens me and for me highlights that something really must be done to help mental health services and those that need them.

MigGril Fri 03-Jan-14 08:10:22

I don't agree that breastfeeding had much to do with it. Sounds like she.was.already at a high risk, stopping breastfeeding may have actually made her feel worse and although she was give antidepressants they can make depression worse in the first couple of months before they start working. she was ill enough that she should have been admitted and its our very poor mental health services that let her down so tragically.

katemeister Fri 03-Jan-14 08:17:13

This is a very sad story, the pressure in those first few days/weeks is immense. The irony is that a few weeks on my HV team seem very keen to suggest a switch to formula at the slightest deviation from the growth curve so all consuming pressure sometimes switches to being undermined. Feeding is so emotive (as some threads on here can demonstrate). I am not sure feeding was at the heart of this story, but it does highlight some issues nonetheless.

violator Fri 03-Jan-14 10:08:23

For me, breastfeeding and the pressure I put on myself over it, was 90% responsible for my PND. No question about that.

nearlyemptynester Fri 03-Jan-14 10:20:58

I agree with MigGril, read this and just felt so sad. I think that lots of signs and opportunities were missed by the HCP's and despite valiant effort by H and family to support her it ended so tragically.

CraftyBuddhist Fri 03-Jan-14 10:24:45

This is a very sad story. Women with pnd sadly do, occasionally, take their own lives. There are many contributing factors in each individual case.

However, I find the DM headline disgracefully inflammatory. But then, it's the dm. What can we expect.

The (wonderful) threads alone about parenting affecting mental health demonstrate the many ways in which simply becoming a parent can affect us. In my own case bf struggles certainly contributed to pnd. But, quite frankly, so did exhaustion, unsupportive mother, a childhood sexual assault and absolute determination to protect my child from real or imaginary threat. The pressure to bf came from within me. Noone else. It was and is very very important to me. What made me, at times, very low was my (well meaning) relatives and DH suggesting I give a bottle. That was not supportive.

So, actually, I would argue that the wish to bf despite initial mental health problems can be valid and should be honoured. Access to proper support should of course be available.

What appears to have gone wrong is people and services failed her with regards to her mental health. Seeing past the initial presentation is what is often needed.

Armadale Fri 03-Jan-14 10:26:28

This is a heartbreaking story. Her poor husband tried so hard to get her help.

I could not get over the extremely patronising statement from the hospital at the end- it seems they have learnt absolutely nothing from this whatsoever.

I have a close family member who had severe PND and struggled to breastfeed - she had also had a terribly difficult labour, so the breastfeeding issue wasn't the only thing she was contending with, but having seem the way the health visitors badgered and badgered her to keep going with breastfeeding when it obviously wasn't working, it certainly added horribly to the pressure she felt under. I often look back at it and wonder why I just sat there and let them bully her so horribly & wish I'd intervened.

fromparistoberlin Fri 03-Jan-14 10:32:41

awful, tragic

but whats BF got to do with it? sounds like untreated PND

TalkativeJim Fri 03-Jan-14 10:40:12

This is a tragic story, but from what I see here the bf angle seems mainly to be the 'spin' the DM has chosen.

She seems to have switched to mix feeding before the final crisis. I am sure that the stress and unhappiness caused by bf problems did not help at all, and yes it sounds as if she could have been better supported here, but crikey, this was a catastrophic failure of the service to recognise a patient in complete crisis, and the DM focus on bf undermines that!

Would she have been absolutely fine if BF had gone well? I doubt it.

Would her depression have been exacerbated in a similar way if midwives and HVs had intervened to stop her bfing, telling her that she shouldn't put herself under pressure/baby health comes first/bf not that important really, etc. etc.? Quite possibly.

The latter happened to a friend of mine. Found BF very difficult, ultimately gave up. The response of the health professionals seems to have been the opposite of this poor lady - they immediately started to tell her she shouldn't worry about it, give a bottle, don't put herself under pressure. My friend says this did the opposite of helping her - she SO wanted to bf that she felt unsupported and undermined and made to feel like a bad mother who was happy to see her baby not thrive so that she could get to bf!

It's not so simple. And I think focusing on one aspect, like the DM story, is very unhelpful.

Poor woman.

Really? I bf my 2 dc and every time I tried to discuss pnd with gps they would immediately suggest stopping bf. After six months I was looked at as an oddity. All my friends ans some counsellours pressurized me to "give a bottle so you can have a break" even though I made it very clear I didn't want to give them any formula. I really don't get what is this pressure that you are talking about.

fedupandtired Fri 03-Jan-14 12:31:14

Very, very sad but with psychiatric services as they are it will happen again and again.

In my experience mental health professionals don't provide help when someone's in crisis so whilst it would be nice for A&E staff to do so the fact that they didn't doesn't surprise me.

violator Fri 03-Jan-14 13:02:47

schroeingersdodo the pressure for me reached a crisis when I hadn't slept longer than 45 minutes at a time for three months. Sleep deprivation was the main cause of my PND, I have no doubt about that and neither does my psychiatrist.
I was also horrified at myself that I couldn't cope with the demands of EBF, and couldn't see that I was running myself into the ground in a desperate attempt to avoid using formula.
Another problem was my reticence to go on antidepressants while feeding. I had read enough about the risks to DS to make up my mind about that.

susiedaisy Fri 03-Jan-14 13:08:30

This story is so upsetting poor lady. Poor family!

AliceinWinterWonderland Fri 03-Jan-14 13:09:29

With DS2, I was pushed quite relentlessly by the home visitors (midwife at first, then HV) to breastfeed. They were very aggressive and made a few comments indicating that they didn't think that I was that interested in breastfeeding (which is ridiculous as I breastfed both DD and DS1 and was looking forward to doing the same with DS2). The midwife said I needed to try to breastfeed DS2 every hour on the hour, around the clock. When I pointed out that there is no physical way I could do that and sleep at all, she sighed and said "well, if you don't even want to TRY breastfeeding, you should have said so to begin with." hmm

Had they been more supportive, I might have gotten through the difficulties better, and come out breastfeeding fine. But when I was told that if I didn't "get it together and get some breastmilk into that baby" or we would both be ordered back to hospital, I finally snapped and said "no, because from here on in, he's having formula." I was so exhausted and stressed, I spent most of my time crying and trying to breastfeed - which of course was not helped by all the aggro. While I was disappointed that I couldn't continue breastfeeding at that point, I think it saved my mental health, as I was just not in a good place then. Much much better once he was started on formula, despite all the tutting from the HV.

TheGreatHunt Fri 03-Jan-14 13:12:14

I think people project onto the bf is best message - they want to bf, they can't, then see the bf is best message as a personal attack on them.

This woman had PND. If there was no pressure to bf do you think this wouldn't have happened?

Most people formula feed in this country.

AliceinWinterWonderland Fri 03-Jan-14 13:25:18

I think it depends on how it is presented TheGreatHunt. I was definitely given the message loud and clear that breastfeeding was best - and that if you didn't or struggled with it, then you didn't really want what was best for your child.

LEMoncehadacatcalledSANTA Fri 03-Jan-14 13:26:04

That was very hard for me to read sad I suffered from PND and am still terrified to this day that i will do exactly what that poor lady did. However i am angry that the Daily Fail has used it as an excuse to have a pop at the "breast is best obsession". This woman was seriously failed by the people who were supposed to be looking after her (namely the health care professionals, her doctors and her health visitors).

This story has so many paralels with mine, i struggled at first with feeding my milk was slow to come through - i was admitted to hospital and they couldnt have been nice, this is why it was different for me - the midwives actually insisted that I gave DD a bottle (i didnt want to do this) while we were waiting for my milk to come in, that i would express and mix feed.

My HV let me down - i did do the questionaire and she told me how she was very worried about me, i was clinically depressed and would be back the next day - she never came back angry My depression went untreated for another 18 months before it all came to a head and a nurse in the walk in clinic helped me, set up appointment with my doctor etc. This wasn't before it put serious pressure on my relationship, DP had to stop working to look after me.

I have to say that there WAS pressure to BF and i did push myself too hard to continue to do this - but i felt the pressure from other women, i was actually more embarrassed to bottle feed in public, despite the fact that i was mix feeding than to get my breasts out in the middle of restuarants.

Sadly, i think this another case of the Fail courting controversy at the expense of someone's greif sad

TheGreatHunt Fri 03-Jan-14 13:35:36

The thing is, and I struggled, is that bf is best and there's no way of denying that.

I think they should make it easier for women to get support and help for whichever feeding method they choose while recognising that we all want to do the best we can for our children.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now