There are many women who have psychological impediments to breastfeeding due to anxiety from past sexual abuse or rape. Dr. Ken‘s Tisha Campell- Martin is among that group.
The comedic actress, best known for her role on the television shows Martin and My Wife and Kids, opened up for the first time in 2014 on the talk show The Daily Helpline that she was raped at the age of 3.
“It would affect me with breastfeeding my children.” the Househusbands of LA star recently shared with Madame Noir. She continued:
I didn’t want to with the first one because I felt like I was going to hurt him. You know, that kind of thing. It’s surprising how things kind of pop up out of nowhere. I didn’t know why I felt uncomfortable doing that. I didn’t want to do it, and I felt like it was a lot of pressure for me to do it. Finally, the pediatrician was like, “Can you just stop trying? Because the baby can see your angst.” So I took the pressure off of myself, and it was easier to do it with my second child because I knew what it was then.
There is discomfort to having exposed the breast, stomach and other sensitive areas of the body that was once unwillingly exploited by an abuser. More women, their partners and spouses, doctors and health professionals are becoming aware of this additional impediment to breastfeeding.
It is well known that black women breastfeed their babies at a lower rate than White and Hispanic women, with much of the reasoning pointed to lack of family and hospital support, insufficient education and challenging work situations.
Past sexual abuse is another overlooked reason.
Blogger Leila at My Baby and Blog pointed out an article a little while ago published in Babble which noted that abuse could also impact co-sleeping, as well as breastfeeding. In the piece, Tonia, a mom of two small children, had expressed that she had a tough time breastfeeding because she was abused by an older relative as a teen.
“I breastfed my daughter, but the sensation of nursing and having to give my body over so completely and constantly was extremely unpleasant for me,” she said adding how an attempt to breastfeed her second child led to a breakdown. “Just the thought of doing it all over again, and this time with a 19-month-old [to take care of as well], made me so anxious that I broke down crying one night and decided I would be going straight to formula.”
Not all past abuse victims have breastfeeding challenges, but it is important to not judge women who choose to not breastfeed given the wide variety of reasons out there including the effect of past abuse.
So in the Mommy wars, lay off on those who chose to bottle feed. You never know…
h/t Kim D. Lett My Baby and Blog