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

ComplexAndDangerous Fri 03-Jan-14 21:22:30

I really didn't feel pressured by health professionals to BF and I'm sad this is the case for some. In my case, I wanted to BF but DS was consistently dropping centiles and refusing the breast and I was gently advised first to top up with expressed milk, then to top up with formula, then to mix feed - HV and midwives were always at great pains to say that I shouldn't blame myself and I had given DS a great start. I experienced more pressure and guilt-tripping from certain friends and family and sadly from some things I read on here (not aimed personally at me, but very clearly anti FF - the sort of comments where posters say "well most people can BF if they really want to")

However, I still feel that with better support I could have found a way to BF DS for longer. The midwives and HVs I encountered were kind but had NO CLUE how to help. I was too shy to go to BF cafes or advice sessions (surely can't be the only one who finds the prospect terrifying, yet it's all that my HV and MW could advise) The private BF consultants I saw were not helpful and often gave conflicting advice. I don't know how we work around that, but really we should be working to raise standards in BF support and invest in training BF counsellors properly, not just beating women up, as it seems is the case

WaitingForPeterWimsey Fri 03-Jan-14 21:12:52

I know what you mean about bf being seen as normal in some cultures, Schro. My dm is from a country like yours - 80% babies are bf iirc and everyone just does it. In fact they don't have the same level of formal bf support we have because they simply don't need it - your dm/DSis/sil/bf will all have bf and so bf support is out there and available in the wider community.

It is very sad that the nhs isn't able to support new bf mothers properly and that family/friends often don't have the experience to be able to do so.

When bf is going well some dm feel it can help make life easier - no need to get out of bed to make up bottles - just lean across to bedside cot, put baby to breast and feed. An independent sleep study (the Isis Project) has shown than ebf mothers actually get more sleep than ff or mixed feeding mothers, which iirc they suggested was down to the bf mother not needing to wake up completely in order to feed.

If a mother does not want to bf they should be supported and no one should even be thinking about judging. However, the Infant Feeding Survey shows most mothers want to bf and there would be far less pressure on new dm if the support was truly there to help them to do that.

Iwasinamandbunit Fri 03-Jan-14 21:02:25

I am a long time user of MH services. They are so stretched now that it is very hard to become an in patient. Of four major incidences over twenty years I was hospitalised the first two times, the third time I had a crisis team visit me at home every day for a month and this time as I am currently unwell I am visited once a week.

I have been in a Mother and Baby Unit, there are not many places available. I guess I was very lucky as there was a space in a unit only about six miles from where I live. There were Mothers from two counties away as it had the closest beds.

I think BF does add extra pressure but this is more about the woeful lack of funding in MH services. There is also the slant that Mothers are so petrified of social services taking their babies away they minimise how bad they actually feel.

I just feel terribly sad and very sorry for her and her family.

What waitingfor said. As someone mentioned on the thread, citing her own example, there is no support to bf,just pressure to tick boxes. Lots of people in this country have no idea how bf works and still tell new mothers they have to do it.

I come from a country where most women manage to bf, simply because it is seem as normal, people trust it will work, and it works (with exceptions of course). Curiously, we have a 90% c section rate and most women believe wholeheartedly that they could not have had normal births. Doctors there are clueless about vaginal births - in a similar way health professionals here are clueless about bf.

violator Fri 03-Jan-14 16:48:45

Hotbot I'm unlikely to have another baby, but if for whatever reason I do, there is no way on this earth I will breastfeed. Been there, done that, got seriously ill, medicated, hospitalised, lost 5 weeks with my beautiful baby and the first 18 months of his life.
Never again will I put that kind of pressure on myself.

Hotbot Fri 03-Jan-14 16:25:41

Violator, re the point you made earlier , re pnd and bf, was exactly the same for me. The depth of do espalier and uselessness I felt was like nothing else in my,life, and I could still cry about it now, whether it be hormonal based or not. It was the same for my second child as well, tho I didn't get pnd with ds,.

MadIsTheNewNormal Fri 03-Jan-14 15:22:16

Thurlow you have just summed up exactly how I feel about this.

Thurlow Fri 03-Jan-14 15:02:08

That's a good point about support, violator, and it is something about modern life which isn't always taken into consideration. I chose to ff from the start for that very reason - no family of friends nearby and a partner who was doing long shiftwork. I felt instinctively that I wouldn't cope if I was the only person responsible for feeding the baby, when I didn't have a partner who would come home every evening and make dinner while I fed the baby (as an example), I felt I would cope better by being able to take advantage of the times he was at home or my family were visiting because the baby was bottle fed.

Not everyone will make that choice. But I do think the way most people live nowadays i.e. not very close to family and friends who can help out, has an affect on the way breastfeeding needs to be promoted and supported.

violator Fri 03-Jan-14 14:55:33

Support doesn't just come from health visitors, midwives and GPs though.
Day to day, night after night when you're the one losing your mind with tiredness it's those who live with you or are nearby that are your support.
Unfortunately, due to many of the demands of modern living, it's not always possible for a new mum to take to the bed and feed all the time, not everyone has a partner, or a partner who is actually around a lot of the time, or a mum who can help.

There is another element to this awful, awful, case which hasn't been mentioned yet. Antidepressants have been linked to suicidal thoughts and many come with a black box warning in the US.
Having been there, and had those terrible side effects, I really feel that anyone put on antidepressants should be watched very closely for this.
This isn't the first time a new mum with PND has taken her own life very soon after starting an antidepressant and sadly it won't be the last either.

WaitingForPeterWimsey Fri 03-Jan-14 14:13:54

I've commented on your thread in the bf section, but just wanted to add something else here in response to comments about pressure to bf.

This story is so very sad for Joe, her DH and their dd. Primarily it is about the failure to adequately treat her Pnd.

A choice to ff should always be respected. However, the last infant feeding survey showed almost 80% of mothers wanted to bf and wished they'd had better support to be able to continue. That support is not there and that is why only 1% of babies are ebf to 6 months in the uk.

The majority of hcps / their ohs have not themselves ebf their dc to 6 months and their training on bf can be very limited. For example, a friend worked on scbu as a nurse and said she had almost no training on bf at all.

So what happens is hcps say 'everyone should ebf to 6 months', then tick the box on their list. When even basic (and often highly surmountable) bf problems arise the knowledge is not there to deal with them and they often just recommend ff top ups.

Many hcps and our culture in General is not favourable to bf. I was treated as like an idiot by a consultant for not being willing to change my DS over to ff at 4 months to have an op. I got a second opinion from a more senior consultant and there was in fact absolutely no need to wean.

AliceinWinterWonderland Fri 03-Jan-14 13:52:26

Of course, breast is ideally best, but sometimes it's not going to happen, and rather than demonising a mother and making her feel like shit because she is struggling, they need to either offer actual support (or get her in touch with someone that is capable of providing actual support) for breastfeeding or support the mother in the choice of formula feeding.

And yes, poor mental health services are not much help either.

Thurlow Fri 03-Jan-14 13:52:25

Poor family, my thoughts are with them flowers

I do agree to a point that there is so much focus on "breast is best" that it's easy to see how some women get so caught up on the idea that formula means failing their baby right from the start, and how that in turn can exacerbate PND to a dreadful degree. I would say that breastfeeding is pushed at the moment, especially in the media and NHS promotional material, more than anything else in terms of how you look after your baby in the first few months. I do understand why that is, but because it is pushed I can see how it becomes something women can fixate on it.

"Breast is best" is a great message. BUT it needs to be supported by care and support and professionals to help.

I don't know what the solution is because breastmilk clearly is the medically best way to feed your child (and I say this as someone who ff from birth, so I'm not pushing an agenda) but the current campaign/message clearly comes across as very draconian to some mothers.

selfdestructivelady Fri 03-Jan-14 13:44:10

I think poor mental health services are to blame I been crying to crisis saying I feel suicidal for weeks and self harming and seeing things . Eventually I took a overdose and you would think they would admit me at this point but I was sent home with enough meds to end my life.

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.

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

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.

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 13:09:29

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.

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

This story is so upsetting poor lady. Poor family!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

awful, tragic

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

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.

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