Pressures to Breastfeed Can Harm Maternal Mental Health

Many mothers suffer from stress, shame, and guilt associated with breastfeeding.

Florence Leung of British Columbia, Canada went missing on October 25, 2016 while struggling with post-partum depression. Less than a month later, her family discovered that she had taken her own life, leaving behind a husband and infant son.

In an emotional public letter, Leung’s husband Kim Chen wrote an impassioned plea to new mothers asking them to seek help if they felt anxiety or depression. He also revealed that his wife’s difficulties with breastfeeding, and the resulting feelings of inadequacy, likely contributed to her condition. Urging women not to criticize themselves about an inability to breastfeed or a decision not to breastfeed, Chen wrote:  more

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She wanted to be the perfect mom — then landed in a psychiatric unit

Lisa Abramson says that even after all she’s been through — the helicopters circling her house, the snipers on the roof, and the car ride to jail — she still wants to have a second child.

That’s because right after her daughter was born in 2014 — before all that trouble began — everything felt amazing. Lisa was smitten, just like she’d imagined she would be. She’d look into her baby’s round, alert eyes and feel the adrenaline rush through her. She had so much energy. She was so excited.

“I actually was thinking like, ‘I don’t get why other moms say they’re so tired, or this is so hard. I got this,’ ” she says.   more

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Alyssa Milano: How I Came to Terms With My Anxiety Disorder

I have a secret, and I am not alone.

I am a mother, an actor and an activist — and like over 40 million Americans, I live with a mental illness. This Mental Health Awareness Month, I am joining the people nationwide who are standing up, sharing their stories and demanding that lawmakers defend our access to health care.

My Generalized Anxiety Disorder was most likely triggered by my postpartum depression, and my journey with mental illnesses began with my journey into motherhood.

In 2011, two years after suffering a miscarriage, I learned that I was pregnant with my first son, Milo — and it was a dream. My miscarriage was heartbreaking, but this pregnancy was beautiful: I did not experience morning sickness; I went to prenatal yoga five times a week; I walked two miles a day; and I took naps in the afternoon.  more

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