E tūtaki ana ngā kapua o te rangi, kei runga, kei runga te Mangoroa e kōpae pū ana | The clouds in the sky close over, but above them spreads the milky way

Ā Tātou Kōrero | Our Stories

Ā Tātou Kōrero | Our Stories

Stories inspire and heal us – you are not alone. The stories on these pages have been shared with the aim of helping others.

Rachel’s story

Breastfeeding Problems


“Nine years ago, I had a life-changing experience when my partner and I had our first (and only) child. We had planned to have this child, and my pregnancy went well. I was able to maintain a high degree of physical and mental wellbeing right up until the time our baby was born.

I was well organised, having left work six weeks before baby was born. I had prepared all the clothing, the baby’s room, and family and friends had equipped me well for this new child. Life seemed well in control, even the day that my contractions began. I was a little frightened by the intensity of the contractions, but I was confident that all was well. .

And so our little girl was born, after a wonderful sunrise, and a relatively quick birth. I remember being ecstatic. I mean highly ecstatic, yet bewildered at the same time. It was then that things started to become difficult for me.

I had difficulty trying to breastfeed my wee baby girl. This might have seemed the norm, but why did this continue with every single breastfeed, why did my child cry so much, and why did I feel so lost and so panic stricken. I stayed as long as I could in hospital before going home.

It wasn’t long until things began to really spiral out of control. I couldn’t feed my child properly, but worse for me, was that I couldn’t get any rest. We quickly limited friends from visiting too often, but I could sleep neither by day nor by night. This lack of sleep went on for an agonizing ten days until I could bear it no longer.

I started to panic and phoned any “helpline” I could. I started having delusions. My body shivered uncontrollably, especially at night and I couldn’t sleep at all. My partner and I could not understand what was happening to me. We never even considered this was a medical condition. I was asking for help, but I had no idea what for – just that life was almost unbearable with a new baby child.

Finally, (it seemed for me) I got the urgent help that I needed and was admitted to hospital where my daughter and I stayed, on and off for three months. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder which I didn’t realise can present for the first time after having a baby.

Once home, I continued to improve with the support of my wonderful partner and family. I have since learnt to take care of my sleep patterns and stress levels and continue to keep a watchful eye on my health and wellbeing.”


Further reading on Breastfeeding and Perinatal Distress

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