I had always planned to breastfeed my babies because of the wealth of health benefits, but for me there was one particular benefit that stood out: the special bond between mother and baby. Having been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in my early twenties, I knew that I was at an increased risk of becoming mentally ill after giving birth and I worried how this could impact my bond with my baby.
Breastfeeding was going well but I felt increasingly lonely and isolated
Fortunately, after giving birth to my daughter Murphy, breastfeeding established easily and I felt confident in my ability to feed and comfort my baby.
Sadly, my postnatal mental health journey didn’t go as well as our breastfeeding one did. With the combination of my partner returning to work and Covid 19 lockdown restrictions, I found motherhood incredibly lonely and isolating. I spent long days alone with Murphy and my anxieties: was I a good enough mum, did I play with her enough, was I helping her to develop, what was I doing wrong?
Sadly, my postnatal mental health journey didn’t go as well as our breastfeeding one did.
One worry I never suffered was that of our bond. Whenever Murphy needed it, she would have a breastfeed, be it alone at home or on another wet walk in the park. Knowing I was feeding her exactly what she needed gave me such reassurance that I was doing at least something right. Nobody else could breastfeed her and it gave me confidence in my abilities as a mum – she was growing all because of me and that was something really special.
Slowly, my loneliness developed into postnatal depression
Slowly, my loneliness developed into postnatal depression and I became so unwell that I was admitted to a Mother and Baby Unit. These are special hospitals for women who experience mental illness in pregnancy or the first year after having a child and facilitate babies being admitted alongside their mothers. This meant that we could continue to breastfeed for the duration of our two-month stay, which cemented the special bond that we had.
I became so unwell that I was admitted to a Mother and Baby Unit.
I knew that despite my hundreds of doubts in myself that I was getting this one thing right, and that was invaluable in such scary and uncertain times for me.
We’re still breastfeeding and I’m on the road to recovery
During my darkest times as a mum, breastfeeding provided me with some tangible proof that I was doing a good job; it was one thing that I couldn’t doubt.
I’m now back home and life is returning to normal. I still have some anxieties and doubts about myself as a mum, but I’m well on the road to recovery.
We still breastfeed too, and I take great comfort knowing that I can soothe and nourish Murphy whenever she needs it. I’m eternally grateful for the special bond breastfeeding has given us despite the odds.
I take great comfort knowing that I can soothe and nourish Murphy whenever she needs it. I’m eternally grateful for the special bond breastfeeding has given us despite the odds.
Would you like to inspire and empower other mamas by sharing your own breastfeeding story? Sign up today to add your story! We’d love to hear from you.