It’s often said that formula feeding is only unsafe in undeveloped countries where there is poverty and poor sanitation. This is a fictitious claim circulated by defensive formula feeders in an effort to justify their choice.
As we’ve learned over the past couple of years, disaster can strike anyone, anywhere and anytime. It doesn’t matter whether you live in a rich capitalist nation, or one that is poverty-stricken. A natural disaster, whether hurricane, tornado, flood, or tsunami, can devastate areas and leave families without resources, sometimes for long periods of time. In these instances, breastfeeding is a life-preserver.
The star of this week’s Triumphant Tuesday is Kate. When a flood destroyed her home, Kate lost everything. This tragedy pushed her into deep depression. Yet she was determined that her breastfeeding relationship would not suffer.
“When I became pregnant with my daughter I had the no-plan plan because I am the most indecisive person ever. All I did know was that I wanted a healthy happy baby. Then, early on in my pregnancy I took a nasty fall. I sprained my back and neck with a lot of other injuries.
A Complicated Pregnancy
The worst feeling is being told that we would have to “wait and see” if my daughter would be affected by the medication that was given to me by the hospital – the same hospital that knew I was pregnant!! I had such a painful pregnancy; And it didn’t make it any easier that I wasn’t given the comfort of knowing whether my baby would be healthy or not.
Later in my pregnancy the doctors believed I was on the verge of becoming preeclamptic due to abnormal test results. So everyday they were running tests on me. Nothing was making sense to them.
In the midst of all of this my home was destroyed in a flood. We lost everything. All of a sudden there were so many unknowns. My home became a motel room and just the very thought that I would have to bring my newborn (that may not even be healthy) to this place sent me into periods where I would sob for hours. I felt incredibly guilty because now my daughter didn’t have a house to grow up in, let alone her own room! Unsurprisingly I spiralled into deep depression, before she was even born.
An induction date was set, yet still I had no definite plans for labor or feeding. I decided I was going to try my best and see where labor took me, rather than trying to control it.
After my beautiful baby girl arrived I put her to the breast and just kept thinking, “If it hurts she isn’t latched right”. So if it hurt I would unlatch her and try again. She was born at 6 lbs 11 oz and at 3 days old she was already 7 lbs 1 oz and ABSOLUTELY HEALTHY.
As a consequence of my very stressful pregnancy and my existing depression, I developed postpartum depression. I was expecting to feel this overpowering love for my daughter. I thought I should feel so happy but all I could do was cry and all I wanted to do is sleep. I felt overwhelmed by the world around me and had daily panic attacks. It was as if an engulfing pain would course through my body, my chest would tighten, and I wouldn’t be able to breathe.
To make matters worse, at the time we brought her ‘home’ from the hospital, her Dad was working over 12 hours a day, 6 days a week just to keep the roof over our heads. The time he was home he spent sleeping.
I felt like everyone was passing judgement onto me for living in a motel. People would suggest that I could have prevented ending up there. It made me feel like I had done something wrong, not that a flood took my home and my belongings.
During this time I was convinced something bad was going to happen to my baby. I couldn’t sleep because when I did, someone or something was always hurting her. Once I started having scary thoughts about harming myself because I believed that I wasn’t worthy of life. During that time, my daughter is what kept me on this earth. The closeness that we built while breastfeeding is something that no medicine or therapy could ever replicate.
When I would try to talk to my doctors or nurses about my depression, they kept saying to me, “oh yes, having a newborn can be so overwhelming”. That just made me want to scream more, because my newborn was the only thing holding me together. My emotions were just out of control but my little Sophia brought me back to me being me. She gave me focus. Every month that passed and I was still nursing, was something I could be proud of.
My daughter is now 6 months old and has been exclusively breastfed, even when I myself wasn’t able to get out of bed. She NEEDED me, so I was there for her. It’s as simple as that.”
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