Husband of Florence Leung releases emotional statement about PPD, pressure to breastfeed
Just two months after a young New Westminster mother was found dead, her husband is taking to social media to talk about postpartum depression and encouraging other women to seek help.
Thirty-two-year-old Florence Leung went missing without an explanation in late October, causing New Westminster police to launch a massive search. It was revealed she was suffering from postpartum depression and her family was concerned about her well-being.
READ MORE: Understanding postpartum depression
On Nov. 16, Leung’s body was found in the waters near Bowen Island. No foul play was suspected.
In his post, Chen says with Florence’s death, “the foundation of his life was taken apart, the plans of the future never to realize. Everything needs to be rebuilt.”
“I have been living in survival mode: living a day at a time, sometimes an hour at a time – exactly like many people taught me to do,” Chen wrote.”Living at the moment is truly the only way to go through this at this stage. As the initial shock and emotional numbness slowly subsides, I’m experiencing more flashbacks of memories from our 6.5 years of happiness, and for now these memories tend to trigger pain and intense longing.”
WATCH: Certified lactation consultant Roxanna Farnsworth talks about supporting new moms and the messaging around breastfeeding.
Chen goes on to encourage new moms experiencing low mood or anxiety to seek help and talk about their feelings.
“You are Not alone. You are Not a bad mother. 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. 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 [sic] to be an understanding that it is OK to supplement with formula, and that formula is a completely viable option. I will talk more about this in the future.”
Global News reached out to BC Women’s Hospital to inquire about the issue, but was denied an interview.
However, the following statement was released in response:
“BC Women’s Hospital provides a range of information about infant feeding,” said hospital communications officer Holly Tran. “We encourage patients and families to get as much information as they need so their questions and concerns about caring for their newborn are answered and they make their choices in light of that information and their personal wishes. While breast milk provides many essential benefits for newborns, as a women’s centred-care environment, patients’ decisions are wholly respected. Also, there are many scenarios in which mothers are unable to breastfeed their infants, and in those cases, there are options such as lactation services, safe formula feeding information and the provincial milk bank where human donor milk is provided to critically ill babies.”
WATCH: Global News coverage of Florence Leung’s story and postpartum depression
Postpartum depression or PPD is a condition that may start during pregnancy or at any time up to a year after the birth of a child.
The Canadian Mental Health Association says a mother or father with postpartum depression may not enjoy the baby and have frequent thoughts that they are a bad parent. They may also have scary thoughts around harming themselves or their baby. Although it’s rare for a parent to make plans to act on these thoughts, the association says the condition requires urgent medical care.
It is estimated anywhere from six to 13 per cent of moms in Canada experience the condition, but some believe that number could be much higher.
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