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When Breast Isn’t Best: Mom Shares How Breastfeeding Triggered Her PPD

“My mental health really plunged and the guilt became too much.”
ByStephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
July 9, 2019
mom breastfeeding her newborn baby
Image: Jenny Elia Pfeiffer

Jessica Hood was convinced anyone who didn’t breastfeed their baby was a “terrible mother.” Then she actually became a mom, and attempting to breastfeed her child sent her on a downward slope. “The pain, the stress, the constant questioning of whether or not your baby is getting enough, not to mention the mental strain. This is where it all began for me,” the mom reflects in a blog post on Kidspot.com. Although it took a while for her to come to terms with it, the new mom realized breastfeeding wasn’t what was best for her and baby. Three kids later, she feels no shame in saying that none of her children were breastfeed. Instead, she focused on something more important: “I’ve done everything I possibly can to be the best, the happiest mother I can be.”

It was a long and heartbreaking journey before Hood had her revelation. After struggling to produce milk, she remembers several midwives stepping in to try to help her latch her daughter. “I was blistered, sore and downright exhausted,” she says. “No matter what I did, I just couldn’t feed her. The guilt I felt was overwhelming…I was 25, a new mother and it was all too much."

Before Hood even gave birth, she noticed she was starting to show signs of prenatal depression. “I had a hard time feeling that bond towards my bump, and I struggled with the changes that happened with my body.” Her difficulty nursing became the straw that broke the camel’s back. “After the guilt of struggling to breastfeed my daughter, my mental health really plunged and the guilt became too much.”

It wasn’t long before her postpartum depression started seeping into all aspects of her life. “By the time my daughter was four months, Karl (my partner) and I were constantly fighting, and I was trying to find any excuse I could to get away from my family,” Hood admits. “I remember feeling like they deserved better than what I could give them, and that they would be better off without me. At this point, I knew something wasn’t right, but I was too ashamed to say anything. I thought I was going to be judged and criticized.”

The lose-lose scenario went on for a few more months before Hood was finally able to admit to others that something was wrong. Luckily, she was able to get the help she needed, and became the happy person she and her kids deserve.

“All four of my children are happy, healthy and thriving; all four kids are happy to have a happy, healthy and thriving mother,” she writes. “How about we just be the best version of ourselves and do what we think is best?..We all parent differently and our ideas will never be the same, but you do what’s best for your children and for your health.”

If you’re struggling to breastfeed baby and it’s taking a serious toll on your well-being, you have to let go of that breastfeeding guilt. You can’t raise a happy, healthy baby without being happy and healthy yourself. And if you find yourself starting to show signs of postpartum depression, don’t hesitate to get the help you need and deserve.

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