A New Mom’s Needs Matter Just As Much As the Baby’s Needs

*** This post may be triggering if you are suffering from postpartum depression (PPD) and are sensitive to negative news events***

Nothing recently has truly sparked my desire to blog…that is, until tonight.  One of my Facebook friends had commented on an article on a public page, so it popped up on my Facebook feed on my commute home from work.  The post was titled “Charlotte Bevan’s death: an indictment of a breastfeeding culture that ignores the needs of women,” written by Amy Tuteur, MD.

One of my biggest peeves is an extremist, misguided, self-serving, selfish, hateful and highly narrow-minded viewpoint, whether it be about politics, guns, religion, bigotry, misogynism, women’s reproductive rights…..or in this case, breastfeeding.  I’ve previously blogged about how breastfeeding zealotry led to the deaths of a mother and her baby, and here I am again, blogging about another PREVENTABLE AND SENSELESS DEATH of a new mother and her baby.

WHEN IS IT GOING TO STOP?

If you are in the medical healthcare profession, you MUST place your patients’ wellbeing BEFORE your religious and biased viewpoints, which have NO PLACE in a profession in which lives are at stake. And should you NOT know the appropriate protocols for specific conditions, drug interactions, consequences of taking someone off medications, etc., then you have NO BUSINESS being in your profession.  PERIOD.

Sure, breast is best if it’s best for baby AND MOM.  BUT DO NOT EVER FORGET ABOUT THE MOTHER.  If she is healthy and wants to/can breastfeed, then great.  If she is healthy and does not for whatever reason want to breastfeed, she shouldn’t be forced to/guilted into doing so.  If she is not healthy and cannot breastfeed, then stop guilting her into doing so.  Let her formula feed in peace.

If she has a mental health condition (as in Charlotte’s case) that requires her to continue taking medication, then she MUST do so.  If she has a mental health condition and wants to breastfeed, then have her continue breastfeeding if–as in this case with risperidone–the medication she is taking is compatible with doing so based on research.  If she prefers to feed her baby formula because she is uncertain about breastfeeding while on the medication, then let her feed her baby formula.  Let her formula feed in peace.

Whoever let Charlotte go off her anti-psychotic medications without monitoring her to be sure both she and her baby were okay are directly responsible for her death.  Here again, we have the insidious belief that a baby deserves to be fed “liquid gold,” the life of her mother be damned.  Bottom line, those whom she entrusted her care might as well have just pushed her off the cliff themselves.  Death by negligence. I believe they call it negligent homicide here.

Women around the world continue to be viewed as baby incubators and milk machines, and as such, their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing do not matter in the grand scheme of things.  Their needs as new mothers don’t matter.  BUT THEY DO MATTER.

I had to quote an excerpt out of the post written by Dr. Amy Tuteur here, as it’s perfectly on point:

For most of human history, women have been reduced to three body parts: uterus, vagina and breasts. Their intellect was irrelevant; their talents were irrelevant; their wants and needs were irrelevant. For a while it appeared that we had moved beyond this deeply sexist and retrograde view of women, but now it’s back in a new guise: natural parenting, specifically natural childbirth, lactivism and attachment parenting. These movements place the (purported) needs of babies front and center. They ignore the needs of women.

I firmly believe that extremist thinking is in and of itself an illness.  It is delusional, obsessive and destructive behavior that MUST BE STOPPED.   This tragedy wasn’t just a wake-up call.  There have been all too many wake-up calls.  IT IS TIME FOR US TO WAKE THE F*CK UP.

Women are more than baby incubators and milk machines.

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “A New Mom’s Needs Matter Just As Much As the Baby’s Needs

  1. It makes me very sad to hear about a woman and baby dying b/c of this type of neglect. I’m suffering from ppd now, so I probably shouldn’t be reading something so terrible. In any case, I agree that a mother must be taken care of too. It’s so important for both her life and the baby’s life. I’m sad and upset that I can’t breastfeed my little girl b/c of the meds I’m on for ppd, but if they keep me or maybe I should say ‘get me’ healthy so that I can be with her, then that is what’s best. I want to get healthy and happy so that she can be healthy and happy too!

    • Cam it’s very important that you take your medication and keep well for you and your baby. PPD is a very difficult illness to experience however you will get better. I had it twice and these years later it inspired me to become a midwife, my children are grown up and are strong and health despite not being breast fed…so get well and dont be too hard on yourself.
      and by the way I had only commented on this blog because in actual fact the inquest has not happened yet and the full facts are not public. Take care Cam

    • Hi Cam,
      Sorry! I just added a trigger warning at the top of the post! You should definitely make your recovery a priority, which means continuing with the medication you’re on and continuing to receive as much help as possible during the night so you can get as much uninterrupted sleep as possible. I did send you an email, so please fee free to email me as needed! I will be sure to respond as quickly as possible!

  2. Whatever anyone’s opinion on breast feeding, perinatal mental, whys and wherefores of medication, I feel in Charlottes case it might be more prudent for people to wait until the actual inquest takes place which will most likely be near the end of the summer. The media reports this week relate to a pre inquest hearing so we are in no way near hearing the facts of this case. I also feel that it must be very upsetting for Charlotte’s family to see her the subject of such online discussion at this early stage. People feel they can take ownership of someone else’s angst or grief just because they have strong opinions opinions on the subject, this shouldn’t be the case. Charlotte’s family and partner appear strong and united, I think it’s up to them to give their view first, they have kept their counsel in light of pending inquest, maybe we should take their lead and do likewise.

    • I thank you for your comment Jeannine. I am relieved to hear Charlotte’s family and partner appear strong and united. My post was not so much meant to pry into Charlotte’s life or “take ownership of [her family’s] angst or grief just because [I may] have strong opinions on [what occurred]”–though I must say I am extremely sorry about what happened and wished there was something someone could have done to prevent what happened to her and her baby–as to be upset that the system has failed a mom and her baby once more. They are the victims. We need to talk about new moms and the support they need. We need to have conversations to prevent mothers and babies from continuing to be victims. That is the only way we are going to make progress.

      • I totally agree Ivy, we need the conversation to happen, I too believe many things were lacking in her care however I just feel in Charlottes case it was be advisable with respect to her family that we wait until the full facts are out there for public consumption.
        We know that studies show that stigma and fear of being perceived as a bad mother is why many women are unwilling to disclose what they are experiencing. Indeed when Charlotte’s tragic death happened, the media and public commentary surrounding the events was appalling and would most likely deter disclosure. So yes in a general sense we need to have important discussion surrounding perinatal mental health however personally I feel it’s best to keep our counsel in regards to Charlotte’s case until after a full inquest.
        Thanks for your reply Ivy, much appreciated.

        • I wish Charlotte’s family nothing but the best outcome with respect to the inquest. I’ve said what I’ve wanted to say regarding what happened. Let’s hope others aren’t going to be ugly about what happened, because we know there’s plenty of negative despite those who are just trying to do good.

  3. Infant feeding choice is SO important. Similarly important is the need for healthcare professionals who treat and advise pregnant, lactating and/or bottle-feeding women to know the latest research about medication use during pregnancy and breast-feeding. I had to educate my family practitioner about why I wanted to transition from Wellbutrin to Zoloft before I became pregnant. I wanted to breastfeed, did the research, and found that the serum levels of Zoloft in breast milk were far lower than that of Wellbutrin.

    That said, my choice to breastfeed and to pump when I worked came at a price. Parenting an infant is exhausting and NOT intellectually satisfying. Being a stay at home mother, which I later ended up becoming due to mental illness, is NOT intellectually satisfying. NOT AT ALL.

    The demands that mothering places on mothers, especially mothers struggling with mental health issues, is high. We NEED support. We can mother. We can mother well. But it is a challenge. Honestly, whether or not I lived with any mental health diagnosis whatsoever, mothering is hard.

    Now housework and cooking – that REALLY sucks. I am REALLY well-educated and always planned to hire help. Sorry for venting, Ivy.

    • Please, Kitt, no need to apologize for venting. That’s what blogging is for, right? 🙂 I appreciate your taking the time to read my post and commenting! The true advocates that advocate for moms know the truth. It’s how we can reach everyone that is utterly frustrating. I wish there was a way for us to “blink” and have everyone realize what is going on and do something about it. I’m really, really sick of hearing about moms being the victims of others who claim they have their patients’ interests at the heart of their treatment when it couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m really, really tired of hearing about mothers and babies dying as a consequence of the selfishness of these “professionals.”

      It is awesome that you did the research and you educated your healthcare professionals. But why do patients even need to do this? It’s absurd. And yes, moms absolutely need more support. But in order to get that support, the understanding of everything that’s at stake (what I mention above) first needs to happen. That plus conquering stigma. This is a hard battle and not sure how long it’s going to take for change to happen. Women must know what’s at stake, but every day I am seeing women putting their choices last and everyone else first. Women who are under the spell of this whole “It’s the woman’s job to give birth; what happens during and after doesn’t matter; the only thing that matters is the fetus and then the baby once it’s born.” That’s bullsh*t

      • Ivy, I so wish you had Bewitched‘s powerful blink and could instantly do away with misinformation and stigma and bias against mothers and their need for THEIR health needs, mental and physical, being addressed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s