B.C. widower urges moms suffering postpartum depression: 'Please seek help'
Florence Leung is shown in this undated file photo.
Published Wednesday, January 18, 2017 8:27AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 18, 2017 9:12AM EST
A B.C. father whose wife died after suffering from postpartum depression is speaking out, telling new mothers in an open letter that they shouldn’t feel guilty if they are unable to breastfeed.
In a lengthy post on the Facebook group “Remembering Mother Florence Leung,” Kim Chen wrote about the devastating loss of his wife, Florence Leung, who went missing in British Columbia in October. The 32-year-old Vancouver woman disappeared shortly after giving birth to the couple’s first child, a son.
Weeks later, Leung’s body was pulled from the waters near Bowen Island northwest of Vancouver following a lengthy search. Police said foul play was not suspected. Leung was believed to be suffering from postpartum depression when she went missing and was said to be seeking treatment at the time of her death.
In the post, Kim Chen spoke out about grieving the loss of his wife, but he also took the opportunity to draw attention to the toll postpartum depression can take on a new mother.
“2 months have passed since the Detectives and victim assistance staffs showed up at our home, with a grim look on their faces I knew immediate what they were going to say before they entered the door,” Chen wrote, adding that following his wife’s death, “the foundation of my life was taken apart, the plans of the future never to realize.
“Everything needs to be rebuilt.”
While Chen encouraged new moms “experiencing low mood or anxiety” to seek help and “talk about your feelings,” he also spoke out specifically about the pressures and misconceptions surrounding breastfeeding.
“You are Not a bad mother. 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,” Chen wrote.
2 months have passed since the Detectives and victim assistance staffs showed up at our home, with the grim look on...Posted by Remembering Mother Florence Leung on Tuesday, January 17, 2017
“Apparently the hospitals are designated ‘baby-friendly’ only if they promote exclusive-breastfeeding,” he added, writing that he “still remembers” reading a handout upon his wife’s discharge from hospital “with the line ‘Breast Milk Should Be the Exclusive Food For the Baby for the First Six Months’” as well as a hospital poster that read “Breast is Best.”
Chen said while he agrees there are health benefits to breastfeeding, there needs to be more understanding that “it is OK to supplement with formula, and that formula is a completely viable option.”
The new father also provided insight into his how his young son is coping. “Our baby boy is growing well and (is) well taken care of, he is at 90th percentile for height and weight, and smiles and laughs a lot!”
In the post, Chen also shared an article about a young mom who died in 2016 “from” postpartum depression. “Her personality seems so similar to Flo in many ways,” Chen wrote.
As a widower, Chen said he’s been “living in survival mode” since the death of his wife, “living a day at a time, sometimes an hour at a time – exactly like many people taught me to do.
“Living at the moment is truly the only to go through this at this stage.”
He added: “I now understand the importance to be kind and gentle to myself, and not to overwhelm myself intentionally. The time will come when I feel more at ease about reviewing and writing about Flo and I, and I look forward to that day."