MUM SAYS Admitting to postpartum depression could save you

Is it the baby blues or something more sinister? Rebecca Lim opens up about her bout with postpartum depression…

Over the last six months, I’ve read three stories about new mums taking their lives mere months after having their babies. In June 2016, US Army wife Allison Goldstein dropped her 4-month-old baby girl at daycare, drove to a deserted area and committed suicide. On 25 October 2016 Canadian mum Florence Leung abandoned her then barely 2-month-old baby and disappeared. Her body was eventually found off the coast of Vancouver.  

In November 2016, a 29-year-old Singaporean mum and her newborn fell to their deaths from the 12th-story of her Bukit Panjang flat. All three stories resonated with me not only because I am a mum myself, but more importantly, because I see myself in each of these women.

Almost three years ago, my husband Kevin and I welcomed our baby boy, Nick, in June 2014. He was our rainbow baby, since I had miscarried earlier at six weeks. We conceived Nick four months after the tragedy and spent the entire pregnancy planning and waiting eagerly for his arrival. Oh, the number of pregnancy and child-rearing books we read and antenatal classes we attended. I thought I was more than ready to take on motherhood.

Pregnancy had its ups and downs ― I enjoyed most of it, but there were times when it took its toll on my health. At seven months, I had to go on bedrest because I was suffering from symphysis pubis dysfunction, which affected my pelvic area.

I was induced at 40 weeks and Nick was born without any hiccups. When we were discharged a day later and placed my little boy in his brand-new car seat for his first ride home, I was on an indescribable high ― I couldn’t wait for the rest of our lives to begin.

All the books recommended breastfeeding for at least the first year, as it was “the best source of nutrition” for my baby, so I was determined to do just that. I tried every possible breastfeeding position to get him to latch well and put him on my breast every opportunity I got.  

As a new mum who had postnatal hormones coursing through her veins…the last thing I needed to hear was that I wasn’t doing the one task I was given as a mother.

However, Nick cried a lot, even after a feed. He never seemed to settle but I wasn’t sure what was going on. When we took him for his one week check-up, we found out that he was losing weight. My paediatrician advised me to supplement with formula until my milk came in fully. But the lactation consultant who came over to help me correct Nick’s latch told me not to supplement because just one drop and my breastfeeding journey would be doomed.

Everywhere I turned, people and magazine and newspaper articles kept reiterating the “breast is best” mantra. That I should stick to it, because that’s my only responsibility to my baby at that point. My body was meant to nourish him and give him “the best start in life”. If I didn’t, he will not grow up smart, he would have several health issues throughout his life and worst of all, we would never have a strong mother-child bond.

As a new mum who had postnatal hormones coursing through her veins, recovering from a vaginal childbirth and whose entire system had gone into shock from severe lack of sleep ― the last thing I needed to hear was that I wasn’t doing the one task I was given as a mother.

Having read the same breastfeeding materials as me, Kevin was also determined that I breastfeed our son ― at all cost. We bought a top-notch breast pump, which set us back almost a thousand dollars, consulted two other lactation consultants and used different breastfeeding aids.

What was the outcome of Rebecca’s breastfeeding journey? Read on…