Florence Leung | Post-partum Depression (PPD) and the Pressure To Breastfeed Faced by New Mothers (2023)


Florence Leung, a new mother diagnosed with post-partum depression (PPD), was found dead on November 17, 2016. Her husband's letter (January 17, 2017) to new mothers discussed the pressure they faced to breastfeed their babies. I wanted to share my story here to help raise awareness on this topic.

Remembering Florence Leung Facebook page by Florence's husband


On October 25, 2016, a new mother left her home and never came back.

Three weeks later.

It was confirmed that she had committed suicide., Her name is Florence Leung.

Two months have now passed since the body of Florence Leung was found.

Her husband, Kim Chen, has now posted an article on Facebook.

What shocked me.

The most was that, in Mr.

Chen's Facebook post.

He devoted a significant portion of it to discussing the pressure that women faced to breastfeed.

That reminded me of how I felt, 3 years ago, when I faced the same pressures after Elizabeth was born.

And I want to take this opportunity to express my solidarity with Mr.

Chen and his message to new mothers who are suffering from post-partum depression.

Allow me to quote parts of Mr.

Chen's, Facebook, post: "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." He continued to say, "I also remember, posters on the maternity unit, "Breast Is, Best".", End, quote., Nutritionally and scientifically.

It is impossible to argue against "Breast Is Best".


This phrase is shown on a poster or pamphlet in a doctors' office.

Often there is no context.


This begs the question:.

"Breast is best, but at what cost?" In the case of Florence Leung, the pressure to breastfeed was a major factor in her suicide.

The posters and pamphlets, advocating breastfeeding to soon-to-be mothers or new mothers.

Only ever talk about the wonders of breastfeeding - that it provided the best nutrition for babies, that it is free, and it supposedly enhances the bond between mother and child.


They don't discuss is how physically uncomfortable it may be, how some mothers cannot express enough milk;.

Some babies simply do not latch on well enough to have a full meal, and how much time it takes in a day and how impractical it can be to spend that amount of time.

The negatives of breastfeeding are hardly ever mentioned, and when they are, they are topics that are treated.

Only very superficially.

It makes a mother who does not or cannot breastfeed, feel like she is not normal, and not a good mother.

When I was pregnant, with Elizabeth, I, never "bonded", with my fetus.

The way that many mothers say they do.

I had a long and very painful labor.


She finally came out.

I didn't even want to hold her.

I did start breastfeeding my baby within half an hour of her birth, and she latched on so well that it was very painful for me.

I didn't express enough milk, so she was cranky from being hungry.

All the time.

To try to increase [milk] production, I nursed her and pumped milk.

In any given 24 hour.

Cycle, I would pump every 4 hours, 6-12 times a day, for 15-30 minutes each, so that would already be 3-5 hours in a single day, not including the very time-consuming procedure to sterile the many drinking and pumping bottles and the various pump parts like the hose and suction funnels.

So altogether.

That would already be 7-10 hours per day spent just on pumping.

Then I also breastfed, my daughter directly, every 4-5 hours, and it would sometimes take an hour to feed her because she would fall asleep while eating, or she needed to be burped, and I also fed her.

The milk that I had previously pumped.

So all-in-all.

The task of providing her with breastmilk would take me 10 to 13 hours of any given day.

Is that even a practical way to live? And nursing.

Her absolutely did not enhance my bond between my baby and me.

In fact.

It did quite the opposite.

I resented my baby deeply and, of course, I was cranky.

All the time, but inside all I felt was an extreme sense of guilt for not enjoying breastfeeding.

Like all the breastfeeding books said, I would.

My daily worth as a mother, was based entirely on a number, and that number was how many ounces of milk I can pump.

I am normally on medication for depression, but since I didn't want to contaminate, the milk I was providing to my child, I stopped taking my medication, so I was very emotionally unstable and depressed.

What also made me feel like I could never be a good enough.

Mother was the whole idea that one should "exclusively breastfeed".

Well, in my case, I could not exclusively breastfeed.

I was never able to produce enough milk for her, because some people simply produce less, and Elizabeth had a very good appetite and drank a lot of milk.

More than I can physically produce.

So I had to supplement with formula.

I felt so much guilt for not being a perfect mother.

My husband clearly saw that something was very wrong with my mental state.

He urged me to stop breastfeeding and pumping altogether as soon as possible.

Every evening, he came home from work.

All I can talk about was how much pumping sucked.

It was clear.

That I absolutely did not bond with my daughter, and all my effort was focused on providing her with this magical, all powerful, nutritious breastmilk.

That was supposed to help her build her immune system and even give her an IQ boost when she was older.

My husband said that not bonding with my daughter was more harmful to her than not giving her breastmilk.


The logical part of me, agrees, I worry about the "What Ifs".


If my daughter was less bright or less healthy, because I didn't give her breastmilk? What.

If my breastfeeding friends, the community nurse, and my doctor judge me? I felt so much pressure to breastfeed.

One day, my husband said he wanted me to stop breastfeeding because, in his words: "I.

Don't want to come home to a dead, wife." And.

That brings me back to the tragedy of Florence Leung and her family.


You are also a mother bombarded by messages that advocate everything good about breastfeeding, and not doing so is because you, as a mother, was not trying hard enough...

You will probably never understand what that pressure feels like., On, Facebook or Instagram or whatever.

What you see of mothers is generally what people expect: tired, but happy.

Women, grinning from ear-to-ear, while holding their babies.

A pregnant mother, gets a lot of attention from family and friends, but once she gives birth, much to the attention goes towards the baby.

(And rightly so!), but it is easy for a depressed mother to go unnoticed, and even when you do notice, people still might still not realize the severity of her depression.

My husband did notice, but that is because he already knows my history with depression.

Under, a different circumstance, a new mother's post-partum depression could easily, easily slip under everyone's radar.

A woman can hide her sadness under a brilliant smile, and it is absolutely no one's fault that she hides it.

So well.

All we can do as friends and family, and as members of society is our best in keeping our eyes and ears open, and asking for help in medical intervention.

As early as we see signs that a mother is depressed., I just wanted to close with a message to current new mothers:.

Please don't drive yourself crazy, over breastfeeding and feel guilty or depressed.

If you can't breastfeed., First and foremost, your child needs you, and you being depressed or dead is not what your baby needs.

Formula feeding is done all over the world, and is safe, at least in most countries - and if you are watching this, you are probably in one of those countries.


There is research that says that there is a measurable increase in immunity and even IQ of babies who have been breastfed exclusively, but the increases reported are small, as in, a couple of IQ points.

And, more importantly, a person's intelligence and health over the course of one lifetime is dictated by so many other factors.

To, the medical community, especially those people dealing with pre- or post-natal care.

Please do not continue to gloss over the negative aspects of breastfeeding.

I know you all mean well, but recognize that promoting breastfeeding by only highlighting the positives, can actually hurt some people.

Health authorities will say that they always respect a mother's choice, whether she wants to breastfeed or not, but sometimes I feel that is simply not true.

Six months ago, the doctor asked if I breastfed.

I said yes, but I could only do it for about 3.5.


She then told me that longer is better for me and the baby, and that I should've breastfed for a year at least.

But, my daughter, is already almost 4 years.

Old! What is the point of reprimanding me.

So many years after her birth? It seems like the stigma against mothers who didn't breastfeed, or didn’t breastfeed for long enough by official standards, or did not breastfeed, "exclusively" enough...

That stigma lasts far beyond your child's infancy.

Finally I just wanted to give my condolences to Mr.

Kim Chen and his baby.

Of course.

I've never met Florence and I.

Don't know her at all, but her story really hit home and in a vague way, I feel like I've lost a friend.


She was my friend, I.

Could imagine us sitting together, maybe sipping a coffee, laughing and crying as we share our struggles with breastfeeding and post-partum depression.

Right now, I can hope.


What you, Florence, have experienced can help raise awareness on post-partum, depression, and more specifically.

The mental well-being of mothers who cannot breastfeed.

This is an issue that we can no longer sweep under the rug, but should be openly discussed in a nonjudgmental, way.

I hope.

A tragedy like Florence Leung will never happen.


Please leave a comment to share your thoughts.

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