Accidentally Starving My Baby Broke My Heart, But Made Me Want To Help Other Moms

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When our son was born, he weighed 6 pounds 5 oz., and we had issues with him latching from the start. Part of the problem was I had flat nipples, so the nurse gave us a shield and showed me how to use it, and he seemed to do much better. He seemed to be a very content and alert baby.  He lost almost 10 percent of his birth weight during our hospital stay, and we were discharged to see our pediatrician for a follow-up. 

#2 Why Fed is Best- Underfeeding and Brain Physiology.pptx

We continued to use the shield because he struggled to latch without it and were told to put it back on if he got frustrated trying to latch. I noticed that the shield would be full of milk when he finished. I also noticed that he wanted to eat for very long periods of time and didn’t seem ever to be settled during or after feeds.


My friends in Facebook mommy groups said this was pretty typical behavior and that he was just cluster feeding, so I continued to let him eat as often as he wanted, for as long as he wanted. I also never felt like my milk came in, at least not how my friends had described it.  He didn’t get back up to his original weight by his 1-week visit, but the doctor didn’t seem overly concerned at that point because he had wet and dirty diapers.

#3 Making Sure Your Newborn fed DiaperCounts

At his 1 month appointment he only weighed 6 pounds 5.5 ounces.  He had only gained ½ of an ounce and his pediatrician suggested I talk to the lactation consultant.

I went the next day to a group class, but the class was so large that I felt very overwhelmed and left early. I decided to attend the class offered at the hospital where he was born, where two of the nurses we met would be teaching the class. They had me first weigh him, feed him, and then weigh him again. When we weighed him after his hour-long feeding, the lactation consultant told me he had only eaten 20ml!


She suggested I start supplementing with formula and put me on a pumping schedule to try and increase my supply. We went home and immediately began the routine, and at the next week’s visit, he had gained nearly 2 pounds.

The nurse’s response was, “Wow! He must have been hungry.” He wasn’t just hungry, he was starving!

We continued the routine, and he continued to grow and thrive, but my supply didn’t seem to be increasing, and he still seemed so restless while nursing. The restlessness turned into full-on screaming after he nursed or drank a bottle of breast milk. I called his doctor, and she said it sounded like he had reflux. She prescribed Zantac and suggested that I cut dairy out of my diet. I met with my doctor for my 6-week postpartum checkup and told her about having to cut out dairy. She had experienced the same thing, so she sat down with me and went over things I could and couldn’t eat and what to look for on food labels. I also had a friend who did the same thing, so I followed her food plan, but he still would get so upset when he had any breast milk. After nearly a month of pumping every two hours, not eating, not sleeping, and trying to grieve the loss of my father, who had passed away two weeks before our son was born, I was an emotional mess.

My mom called me one day, and I was on the verge of a mental breakdown  when she said, “he needs you to be healthy and sane far more than he needs breast milk.” At that moment, I felt a little bit of weight lift off my shoulders. I made an appointment to talk to his doctor about not breastfeeding. I had difficulty accepting it and worried that she might push me to keep breastfeeding.

Her beautiful response:

“You’ve tried harder than 99% of the moms I’ve worked with to make breast feeding work, and it’s totally OK if you stop and exclusively formula feed.”

I cried in my doctor’s office because that was the validation and permission I was looking for. I tried so hard to breastfeed my baby, but it was certainly not what was best for either of us. By his two-month appointment, he had more than doubled his weight, and at six months, he is back to being a happy, observant, content baby and so far meeting his milestones right on schedule.


Formula saved my baby’s life!

I have felt so guilty, and it took a tremendous amount of courage for me to write my story. At the same time, I am so thankful my baby is now thriving and feel it is extremely important for other moms to understand that if your baby is not gaining weight, it is critical to figure out why and not assume everything is normal, no matter what popular breastfeeding mom groups on Facebook might say!

Bottom line: I could have lost my baby and my own sanity. For me and my baby, #fedisbest

I will be forever grateful for finding the Fed Is Best Foundation, and I am now committed to working with their advocacy team to promote #SafeBreastfeeding.  



My story one year later. What I learned. 

I had countless moms—some that I knew personally, many I did not—send me messages thanking me for having the courage to share and for saying the things they were too ashamed to admit. I had a mother message me and tell me, “these were the words I so desperately needed to hear right now.” I had friends and family message me to say that their friend or family member from another state had shared our blog and how proud they were to tell them that they knew me. I had friends message me that they never truly believed that there were mothers who “couldn’t breastfeed” until they read my story.    

I Shared My Story a Year Ago And I Was Told To Go Kill Myself – How I Am Healing

For more information on protecting your baby from feeding complications due to early exclusive breastfeeding, please read and download the Fed is Best Feeding Plan, a way to communicate your feeding choices to your health care providers.

In addition, please read and download the Fed is Best Weighing Protocol to prevent newborn dehydration and failure to thrive.

To learn how to supplement your baby:

How To Prepare For Supplementing When Breastfeeding Your Baby In The Hospital

If I Had Given Him Just One Bottle, He Would Be Alive.

Feeding Your Baby—When Supplementing Saves Breastfeeding and Saves Lives



Lastly, please watch our educational videos on Preventing Feeding Complications for more detailed information.

Our full list of parent resources can be found on our Resource Page.


There are many ways you can support the mission of the Fed is Best Foundation. Please consider contributing in the following ways:

  1. Join the Fed is Best Volunteer group to help us reach Obstetric Health Providers to advocate for counseling of new mothers on the importance of safe infant feeding.
  2. Make a donation to the Fed is Best Foundation. We are using funds from donations to cover the cost of our website, our social media ads, and our printing and mailing costs to reach health providers and hospitals. We do not accept donations from breast- or formula-feeding companies, and 100% of your donations go toward these operational costs. All of the Foundation’s work is achieved via its supporters’ pro bono and volunteer work.
  3. Share the stories and the message of the Fed is Best Foundation through word-of-mouth, by posting on your social media page, and by sending our resources to expectant moms that you know. Share the Fed is Best campaign letter with everyone you know.
  4. Write a letter to your health providers and hospitals about the Fed is Best Foundation. Write them about feeding complications your child may have experienced.
  5. Print out our letter to obstetric providers and mail them to your local obstetricians, midwives, and family practitioners who provide obstetric care and hospitals.
  6. Write your local elected officials about what is happening to newborn babies in hospitals and ask for legal protection of newborn babies from underfeeding and the mother’s rights to honest, informed consent on the risks of insufficient feeding of breastfed babies.
  7. Send us your stories. Share with us your successes, your struggles, and everything in between. Every story saves another child from experiencing the same and teaches another mom how to feed her baby safely. Every voice contributes to change.
  8. Send us messages of support. We work daily to make infant feeding safe and supportive of every mother and child.  Your messages of support keep us all going.
  9. Shop and Fed is Best Foundation will earn cash back! We hope to develop our online safe infant feeding classes with these funds.
  10. If you need support, we have a private support group– Join

We believe all babies deserve to be protected from hunger and thirst every single day of their life, and we believe that education on Safe Infant Feeding should be free. If you would like to donate to support the Fed is Best Foundation’s mission to teach every parent Safe Infant Feeding, please consider making a one-time or recurring donation to our organization.

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314 thoughts on “Accidentally Starving My Baby Broke My Heart, But Made Me Want To Help Other Moms

  1. Shannon says:

    Thank you for writing this. It brought me to tears because I have been there. When I had my first baby I was determined to breast feed. What I didn’t expect was an extremely difficult birth of baby that was over 11lbs. She instantly had the need to eat more than I could supply. I would feed and pump and be lucky to get 1/2 an ounce. I did so many things to fix it: lactation consultants, medications, diet changes. I felt like a failure because I couldn’t feed my beautiful daughter. When she was about 2 months old my mom gave me very similar advice… happy mom = happy baby. I switched to formula and we both turned a corner.

    I’m happy to say my 13 year old “baby” has an over 90% average in school, is athletic, strong, beautiful and extremely heathy. We all take different paths as parents but at the end of the day, healthy, happy children is the goal.

  2. Lisa says:

    Thank you for your story. About 4 years ago, I went throught the EXACT same thing! My milk never really came in, but the pressure to breastfeed was so strong that my son ended up being hospitalized for malnutrition, he was jaundice and STARVING!!!! It took us a week in the hospital, when they finally told me that I didn’t have enough milk and I should consider supplementing or straight bottle feeding. We switched the formula, and suddenly my cranky baby was happy and sleeping through the night. #fedisbest

  3. M C says:

    Soapbox Warning: Oohh this is a scary subject for me to comment on because I have so many strong opinions on what I see and know it does not coincide with today’s mentality, but I raised two daughters that are now young adults and I would say we did pretty great. We loved them abundantly and they weren’t breastfed, they never slept in our bed, they didn’t have choices as we made those choices for them (like what would you like to eat this morning or letting them choose when it was time to go to sleep), they never had a phone/iPad to entertain them (they weren’t even allowed to have just a just a simple non-smart phone till they graduated eighth grade) and we spanked them when they needed to be disciplined. Those are just a few of the things that have been missing in a lot of parenting.

    What a great story to share!! This can be difficult for new moms to get passed these days as breastfeeding is tagged by media and everyone to be the only way to go. I had Jorden just before the over excitement of ‘You Must Breastfeed Your Baby or Your a Horrible Mom’ mentality started and also the we need to be our kids friend and give them hugs instead of real discipline. Thank God for that!! As a young mom back then it could have been very easy for me to fall into this. Jorden had or should I say still has a thrusting problem with her tongue that prevented her from latching on. I remember the nurses in the hospital trying and wanting to send me to the Breastfeeding organization in town that just started to help me get help. I wasn’t to keen on having strangers grabbing my breast and forcing my new babies tiny head onto my breast anymore so decided I’d just try it on my own when I got home.

    Well after a few days I just knew she was struggling still and decided to get a pump. Mind you back then it was too expensive to get an electric one so we had a manual hand pump and proceeded to pump milk and bottle feed her. We had the same situation with Kasey who turned out to be tongue tied which we later had to have corrected.

    We have to remember that God gives us mom’s intuition that we need to go back and start listening too. This poor mother sensed things weren’t right but was listening to what everyone else was saying. Social media has become the crutch to all parenting as it has taken out parental intuition and filled it with a one way slate. It’s scary to me to watch where things are going with mom’s and parenting these days and the results are showing up early on and in the school system and carrying over to them through these generations now becoming adults. Trust me this isn’t a new issue because I am sure it’s happening all the time but no one is going to be as brave as this person to put herself out there for the ridicule.

    Well if you made it to the end of my rant thanks for reading haha This is such a strong subject for me but I will never be the one to go out and point out what I see. Every once in a while I do this ????

  4. Nancy says:

    I understand completely! I remember that shriveled, red, little old man-baby that blossomed after every nap into a plump, contented happy supplemented baby boy. He’s 6’5″ now with a size 15 shoe! ? Breast is best, but FED is better! ❤️❤️❤️

  5. Tracy says:

    Great post, and thank you for it! I went through pretty close to the exact same experience. I regret the first 6 weeks of my daughter’s life because it was so miserable for all of us. When the doc told me, as she was writing a prescription to up my milk supply, that formula is fantastic and I should not shy away from it… that was the turning point when everyone in my house got better both physically and emotionally. As a first time mom I had the idea I just had to try really really hard and it would work. No-one had said ‘maybe it won’t work’ so I did not see that I had formula as an option without being shamed for it. And unfortunately neither did other moms I met. This needs to be talked about!

  6. Sur says:

    Thanks for sharing. And your doctor was right…you tried harder and longer than most moms, including myself. That validation from your mother and doctor… so important cause you feel so guilty. So happy things worked out in the end!!!

  7. Adele Kelly says:

    I have had 5 babies. My first was c-section and everytime I breastfed I would bleed from the nipples more than there’d be milk for the baby. She had cholic and clicky hip with a harness for 3 mths. She would only sleep for 10-15 mins at a time every 20 hours. My partner couldn’t stand her crying so it was left to me. When she was 3wks I felt like I was going to have a breakdown so I changed to formula then at least other people could help feed her.
    When my second daughter was born naturally she took to breastfeeding straight away. But would feed continuously for up to 6-7 hrs straight with 1-2hr break in between. I learnt to breastfeed while cooking, doing housework and looking after my other child. I would always sit for the first 2 hrs of breastfeeding then get to work. She grew quite well and by 10.5 mths when she learnt to use her teeth I changed her to formula.
    My 3rd child was a boy who was born at 29wks as I had septic shock, little did I know I suffered with Crohn’s disease on top of my already diagnosed endometriosis and cervical cancer at 19 yrs old. My milk wouldn’t come in no matter what I tried so we changed to formula and he came along leaps and bounds.
    My 4th child was another boy. I’d had 9 ultrasounds to watch the baby’s weight as I’d been on steroids for my Crohn’s as it wasn’t until I was 34 wks along they found severe heart conditions. He was born at 38wks c-section and had open heart surgery 3 days old. At 2wks he came home. I struggled with my milk coming in again with the stress I was under, having 4 children, 2 severe asthmatics, 1 premi and 1 with 4dufferent heart conditions plus I was sick myself. Do he was formula fed with a lot of medication. He passed away after he had his second heart surgery at 4.5mths.
    A few yrs later I had my 5th child, another son, also with a heart condition but only mild. He was breastfeeding really well. He was born with MRSI(multi resistant staff infection) in his belly button and tinea on his feet. As we cleared that up we found him to be turning yellow. Each day he turned more and more yellow, and he was loosing weight and seemed really hungry all the time. So I had my milk tested and apparently my milk was lacking is so much nutrients as my body just didn’t have them to give, I was in effect starving my son too. He had breastfeeding jaundice. So I alternated with formula and breastfeeding and my milk dried up. So he was left on full formula feeds.
    I never set out stuck to one idea or the other when it comes to feeding my children. As long as the mother and child are healthy and happy I say go with what works for both of you.

    • Christie del Castillo-Hegyi MD says:

      Can you tell us your story again? We can translate from Italian to English using google translate if necessary.

  8. Livvy Schwartz says:

    Your story is almost identical to mine. We made it two weeks post-birth and my instincts were pinging. I took him to our prediatrician’s office, they referred me to the ER. The ER brought in their on call Ped. While we waited for him the nurses stuck my son three times (then I told them they were DONE) without successfully getting a line in him. The doctor arrived, called the nursery and asked for a bottle of formula. Fed my baby 6 ounces, burped him, my son passed out (he would only sleep for an hour or so at a time if we were lucky before that) for three hours. He peed, pooped, and ate again and we were discharged. Then I did the rig-a-ma-roll with the locatation consultant, the pumping, the supplements for me (goat’s rue), mother’s milk tea, more pumping. Finally, I broke down on the phone with my Dad of all people, and he said, “Feed your baby. Enjoy your baby. You tried. Harder than most people would. It’s ok.”

    And then it was. #fedisbeat

  9. Janet Carnegie says:

    I feel your pain. I was given the breast sheilds as well and my son just could not get enough. When he first started losing weight my mother-in-law said to me that my child was hungry. I started him right awayon formula. A few people commented on my no longer breast feeding, but my personality is that I never let it bother me. The main message is try breastfeeding, but you are not a bad mom if you stop in order to feed your child. My little boy is now a healthy 22 yr old .

  10. mamabearjournal says:

    That first photo of your baby just breaks my heart. Oh my gosh, it must be so hard to look back and that knowing what you know now. But I can relate. My daughter actually lost weight by her 3 month appointment. She didn’t indicate that she was being starved at all. But I did realize that my milk didn’t seem to be coming in, but I didn’t realize until after that doctor’s appt. We are supplementing with formula and she has been doing so much better! She’s very slow to gain weight, I think mostly because of genetics (my husband’s whole family is very very lean). But it’s so scary to even think of babies not being fed. <3 Cheers for you mama bear <3

  11. Lara Z says:

    I don’t know you but thank you so much for being brave enough to tell your story! I had a similar situation after my first child but my mom luckily realized what was happening when using a shield. We need more education!! Your article has sparked major conversation among my new mama and Facebook mama friends and I am so grateful! Thank you again and you’re a wonderful, loving mama! Fed is best.

  12. Amy Pyle says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. Mine was very similar and I, too, was an emotional mess. We went in at about 2 weeks. Like you, we weighed, fed and weighed again. There was absolutely no change. Luckily we caught that early but I felt like a failure, and felt shamed by other moms. The first formula bottle we gave her, she filled up in record time. Poor baby was starving!

  13. Nikki says:

    Absolutely agree. Feed is best! I’ve had four children. Two formula feed and two breast feed. As long as bubs and mum are happy and healthy that is the most important thing xx
    I went through a similar situation with my first child and I really struggled with the emphasis placed on breast feeding.

  14. Ellie Marshall says:

    Congratulations on making the decision that you did. Over 30 years ago, I was in a very similar situation and made the decision to feed my first child formula (a big no no here at the time). I took a huge amount of flak for this and felt like I’d failed as a mother, but as in your situation, my son was unable to latch on properly and for the first eight days had been fed (my expressed milk) through a tube and spent these eight days in the Intensive Care Baby Unit. Once I got him home, this wasn’t possible and we both persevered for another week before we’d both had enough. I suffered from mastitis and he was always hungry; crying and losing weight. Finally early one Sunday morning (after an hour of me crying on the ‘phone to my sister who was half a world away – NZ / England), my husband went to the Urgent Pharmacy; bought the formula and we never looked back. My son slept through the night from five weeks of age; gained weight; loved his solids (pureed vegetables) from three months and is now an incredibly healthy 33 year old. My daughter however, latched on to the breast in an instant; woke five times a night until she was nine months old; would never eat the veges; opting only for sweet things (yoghurt, banana etc.) and was a fairly scrawny child and is still quite a picky eater. You need to do what is best for both you and your baby / family. No-one else has the right to judge you or comment on what decision you do decide to make. Do what makes you happy.

  15. Danp says:

    I went through something very similar. I noticed my daughter was really skinny and was always crying no matter how much i nursed her. At her 4 month checkup, she weighed as much as she did when she was born. She was admitted to the hospital for a week and put on special formula to gain weight. The doctors said even though i was producing a lot of milk, it probably didnt have all the nutrients she needed. I was going through a horrible divorce with her dad at the time and was very stressed so they think that was the cause. She ended up gaining weight and being a chubby baby. I was worried about breast feeding when i had my son 4 years later but he gained weight normally. It still makes me so sad that my daughter was starving and i didnt know it.

  16. Owl-Mom says:

    This story really hit home for me…with my oldest I learned just days after she was born that she was not getting enough milk from me. I felt awful but was told that I needed to start giving her formula right away. I tried lactation consultants and worked at it, but even after 6 weeks of doing everything they recommended, I was getting about an ounce for every hour of pumping and opted to stop and just continue with formula. I got judging stares when I pulled out formula to make a bottle in a public place. Each stare was like a punch in the gut reminding me that my body failed. With my youngest, I did still nurse and supplement for 6 weeks, but knew going in that unless things were different, I would feed him formula for the majority of his first year. I know that the home health nurse that visited our home just days after the birth of my oldest made a huge difference. Can we all stop judging people for the parenting choices that they make?

  17. Robin says:

    Thank you for sharing!! I experienced a very similar story with my first and it guided me to my decision on my second baby. I’m so grateful I made that choice for me and for him!! Good for you for sharing and believing in it!!

  18. Sharon says:

    I am not a mother but I have many friends who have become mothers. Some struggled with breast feeding and it took a doctor telling them that all that mattered was that the baby was healthy and happy, as was mom, it didn’t matter what the baby ate (breast milk or formula). I get angry when I see woman or groups pushing that breast feeding is the only way to go. It makes women feel guilty when they can’t breast feed for some reason. Sadly some mothers don’t even realized that they are starving their babies before it’s too late. All that babies care are that they are fed and loved. How you feed them doesn’t matter. My heart goes out to those who are made to feel horrible for something they can’t help. Sometimes the body just doesn’t produce milk or enough milk. It’s not anyone’s fault. Also there are times when the mother is unable to breast feed for other reasons.

  19. Anna Edmonds says:

    Thank you for sharing your story! This was my story too and I love the #fedisbest line!! So true… I will use it in the future! 🙂

  20. Kelly says:

    Bless you. I, too, share a similar story. The pressure to breastfeed as a new momma led me down a road of accidentally starving my infant. His weight was low and those high-pitched screams of starvation still ring in my ears to this day (seven years later). The guilt also stays with me. All I wanted was to do what was best for this brand new life; breast, as I was taught. Between trying different holds, techniques, pumping, nipple shields…it was a nightmare. The baby eventually began to breastfeed and gain weight, but the whole experience was horrid for me. The pressure to “succeed” was too overwhelming. The sad truth? I slid into a deep post-partum depression, dealing with guilt, frustration and anxiety. To complicate matters, I became pregnant with baby #2, four months postpartum. Breastfeeding and pregnant. Gave birth. Back to breastfeeding–now Baby #2. Bless the doctor who looked into my weary eyes and told me, “The best baby is a fed baby.” She encouraged me to do what was best for US…and I did. Once the pressure of breastfeeding was gone, I actually began to enjoy my babies. I cannot go back and change what happened to me. I do wish I would have felt like I could’ve made a different choice. Thank you for sharing your story.

  21. Amy Porter says:

    The 1 month picture reminded me of my first child when he was that age. I was a brand new mom living in Georgia with my army husband. My family all lived in Oklahoma so I was all alone. My mother worked closely with a bunch of nurses that worked with newborns but they were in Oklahoma a 20 hour drive away. The army doctors kept telling me he was fine while the nurses in Oklahoma were charting his growth and kept telling me that he was falling off the grid, he got down to the 2nd percentile for height to weight, and he had a very large head so lots of his weight was in his head. He would nurse for 30 minutes then sleep for an hour and a half and that was all we could do because he was either eating or sleeping, never awake. After 3 months of this I finally saw a civilian doctor at the army hospital who said he had a heart murmur which interferes with being able to nurse strong enough to get enough to sustain himself. He would only get enough to to keep him alive but not really live. Because of him only eating and sleeping he became developmentally delayed from failure to thrive. He did get caught back up rather quickly once he was on formula and was getting enough to eat.

  22. Tim says:

    I would not be alive today if it wasn’t for the bottle. Mum persevered with my older brother until they both reached breaking point. Crying, projectile vomiting, never satisfied, both lacking sleep and going crazy. Nurses did all the lactation advice, massages and other uncomfortable things that made her feel bad. Nothing helped until she switched to the bottle and formula and it got better from there. She went through a similar process with her second son but switched to bottle much earlier. So little natural milk that medication was not required to dry her up etc. Without the bottle she would not have gone past having 1.
    If breastfeeding works, fine. If it doesn’t work, use formula and a bottle. Keep the baby fed and happy.
    Another woman had problems feeding the baby and the slow response of doctors to diagnose it after several visits led to the child having developmental delay (ie. brain damage).

  23. Sharon says:

    I so wish I had read this 7 months ago. A similar thing happened to me. My boy was born weighing 2575g. And he failed to latch, not without a lot of trying, nipple shields and expressing. At one point I was basically feeding ebm because of the failure to latch was causing me so much stress and at 6 weeks I was shaming myself and ready to switch to formula. With encouragement from my husband I persevered and at 7 weeks something clicked and he worked out how to bf. However during this time I was feeding a bottle every 3 hrs. And not realising he needed more than that, and that his cries were hunger not reflux like I had thought. This parenting gig is hard. But surrounding ourselves with supportive people is the best thing we can do. It’s not a bad thing to ask for help

  24. Sophie says:

    My daughter was 5.2 when she was born and she went down to 4.11 and I didn’t have much breast milk but fortunately the midwives at Oldham hospital in Manchester were execellent and encouraged me to give my daughter formula as well which helped her put 80g in one night it was amazing. Breast is not always best on its own.

  25. Amy says:

    Can I just say that I absolutely commend you for trying! And I also want to tell you that as a mother/baby nurse you have opened my eyes. Since reading your post I encourage moms to breastfeed but I also use your blog as an example as to making sure that the right choice is made. Not all moms bodies were made for breastfeeding and I have seen this first hand. Thank you for having the courage to post this. I am extremely proud of you!

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  27. Anna D. says:

    I am so glad this mom had the courage to share her heartbreaking story. Somebody needs to say something.

    I began breastfeeding my fourth child within the very first hour of her birth. She was born 18 years after my first baby, and let me tell you, things have certainly changed. The pressure to breastfeed did not exist back then as it does now. However, there were feeding classes–so we did fine. Eighteen years later I was not even asked if I was breastfeeding–was just assumed. I planned on doing just that anyway–no big deal. After having 3 kids prior, I consider myself to be “well informed” on how to feed my child though. After the first day in the hospital she was just sucking—not getting any colostrum. I could not express not even one drop( even with hospital pump). However, I kept her attached to me probably 20 out of 24 hours. The lactation consultant came, and said everything was fine with her latch. I knew she was not getting anything. I told my husband to go get some formula, and I asked for a feeding cup. Not even 20 minutes after asking for the cup, the lactation consultant/nurse showed up with another nurse. They made their argument for breastfeeding, and basically said they did not wish to give me the feeding cup. I informed them both that I knew my baby was not getting any milk, and that I was not going to let her starve. “If you don’t like it, you can leave.”My little girl actually moaned as the first liquid she had since birth touched her mouth. It took almost an entire week before I could express any milk at all. I kept putting her to the breast, but she was fed formula every 3 hours until I knew she was getting enough breastmilk. We were able to breastfeed successfully, but I would not have hesitated to keep her on formula if she needed it.

    I do not understand the way things are today with the breastfeeding pressure. My decision to breastfeed had nothing to do with any of that nonsense–it was just the way I fed her. If this had happened to me at a younger age—my story may have been a heartbreaking one too. So, if you want to formula feed–go for it. If you want to breastfeed–go for it. Watch your baby though—listen to your baby, especially in those crucial first days. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about feeding your baby. Just feed him/her.

  28. Karen Killeen says:

    Thank you for this frank and honest story. I too felt the shame of not being able to breast feed my first son properly. This is something that was never mentioned to me in the warm, cosy prenatal sessions including the one about breast feeding. I am an educated woman but still came away with the impression that all the baby had to do was look at a nipple and would latch on and drink the milk. The midwife who came to see him at my home was even blaming the scales at the hospital saying that they must be wrong because he had lost too much weight. No! He was starving, that was the problem! I cried when I realised my starving, crying baby had to have some formula. I remember thinking I was such a bad mother because I couldn’t feed him properly and I saw the formula as though it was heroin. He is now a hulking, healthy 11 year old who loves food but my guilt lies like a massive footprint on my memories of his first few months.

  29. Riti Mohapatra says:

    Thank you for writing this. I went through something similar – weight loss in the first 4 weeks – but was still advised to bf only.

    Got latch, tongue tie and suction checked by a LC. All seemed correct but baby was not getting enough. At week 7, I could take it no more – changed doctor, added formula and baby finally started to gain weight!

    Breaks my heart to think that I starved my baby for so long. And there were times that family members pointed out the obvious in the early days and I resisted – mistaking baby fussiness with cluster feeding. I really believed that I could exclusively breastfeed – and it was a tough reality check. And now I am saner, healthier and happier!

    Wish you and baby the very best for the future!!

  30. Rachael Schiffman says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. So much (ALL) of the breastfeeding literature suggests that if you just keep feeding on demand eventually your supply will increase and you will be able to breastfeed exclusively if you follow X steps. I had a similar experience in that my baby was constantly nursing, constantly fussing, and not sleeping. I began supplementing with formula in the second week, after calling the pediatrician at 5 am after being up with the baby all night trying to nurse. My baby is now 5 weeks old and I still feel guilty and like I did something wrong that I couldn’t breastfeed him. I know breast milk is “best” in most cases but formula is also best if your baby isn’t getting enough milk.

  31. Sheri Farlow says:

    My baby is now almost 40 but when he was born, I was going to do everything right. Well, everything was wrong. I won’t go into all of that but his trouble breast feeding was something I try to tell everyone about. The baby in this story looks just like my son did average/small. His issue left me frustrated and in extreme pain from being engorged since he couldn’t latch properly. Just prior to my second sons birth, a friend was playing a game with my first son who was nearly 4 by this time. She stuck her tounge out at him & when he tried to imitate her he couldn’t. His tounge pulled off to the side. He was tounge-tied! It was a bittersweet feeling because it was easily taken care of with a trip to the doctor who snipped the skin under his tounge allowing him to extend it properly. But I lost all that time, suffered mental, physical & emotional pain and generally felt like a failure as a mother.
    Check everything, moms & lactation experts.

  32. Kate says:

    American women: Stop. Stop! Stop judging each other! Nursing or bottle, cloth or disposable, daycare or raising your own, co-sleeping or cry it out, thrift stores/hand-me-downs or designer baby, carseat shaming, competitive “my baby wrote his PhD dissertation at 6 months!” “Wow, your baby was already 6 months before he finished? MY baby was holding hers in her hand right out of the birth canal” “That’s so cute that your baby didn’t have her dissertation done until birth…. MINE was sending hers to our printer when I was 23 weeks pregnant via Bluetooth that she created out of the umbilical cord”

    If your baby is healthy, fed, clothed, happy and learning/growing every day THAT IS ENOUGH! Whether you tote your tot in an ergo or garage sale evenflo – the baby is being loved. Bottle or boob- the baby is fed. Disposable or cloth – there’s no poop on the floor. The only thing I’ll admit to judging is vaccinations. If you don’t vaccinate and are willing to put at risk the health of the immunosuppressed, the preemies, the elderly and the frail because of some inane statements from a playboy model or some kook actress that chews her babies food for it – you should be ashamed of yourself.

  33. Bonnie Jean Ketter says:

    I stopped breast feeding when my daughter was about a week old. It was just too much. She is now a beautiful 19 year old college student who as a high school junior scored a 33 out of 36 on her ACT. Do what is best for you.

  34. Diane Singerman says:

    This could’ve happened to me. I got off to a very slow start with my now grown son. Fortunately, when I almost gave up, things started working out but I relate to this article. By the way, things went fine with my daughter, so I know every baby is different, but it still saddens me to look back on those difficult first few weeks with my precious son.

  35. Nicole B says:

    My story, like so many other women on here is so similar. My little angel had too tiny of a mouth to stimulate my milk to come in. From her first latch, she seemed to be doing it all right. SEEMED. She was constantly on me. Never seemed full. Never slept for more than an hour or 2. Still had the wet and poopy diapers. Lactation consultants watched us and even they thought she was doing fine. She gained only a few ounces her first month. We only got our girl satiated after using little tubes taped to my breasts, connected to formula. When she was finally full, my husband and I decided we were taking matters into our own hands and went straight to formula. With my mom’s input, I bound my breasts to dry up my milk (old school style, no drugs to do it) and that’s when we knew how bad it was – within 2 days, I was dried out; there was nothing there. After her first formula bottle, she slept for a solid 6 hours, gave us her first big blow-out and was finally happy.
    Flash forward 20 years later, and she’s about to have her first baby. The story of her rough beginning has her worried that her nipples – very much like mine, may cause the same problem for her little man. I am by her side, reminding her that it is HER choice, no one else’s as to how she nourishes her baby.
    Sadly, far too many judge those who don’t breast feed. Not worth losing a baby. My 2nd child never had a taste of the boob – I let all hospital staff know from the beginning that I would NOT be breastfeeding, nor would I be shamed because I wasn’t. She was happy, healthy and never lost out on a single thing in life.

  36. Raquel says:

    In that time. My grandfather’s grandmother used to take him to breastfeed with other women when his mother died in childbirth. We’ve lost our way in the modern world. It sounds less appropriate than formula, but it’s more humanitarian and more what babies deserve to have.

  37. Fifi says:

    Thank you for sharing your story! I spent 4 days in a hospital after a birth of my child and i felt like I’m going mad! My child would not stop crying, I was trying to feed every 30min, I was in agony and nurses were telling me to keep feeding my baby. I was in very bad shape, recovering after complication, tired and I just wanted to died! 4 days later I said I would like to leave a hospital! I went home and a day after my husband said ok I had enough seeing you struggling and crying and been in distress as well as I had enough of seeing my baby crying non stop. so he went and got formula, and miracle happen my baby stopped crying and for the first time sleep 4 hours! I found out much later that after the birth during my ongoing operation the midwife was feeding my child with formula so my child was so desperate for a proper food but my milk did not properly come yet. I was only starving my child for 5 days and I am grateful to my husband for making the right decision! I had all this emotions of guilt and being bad mom as well as been depressed. We are so bombarded with messages of breastfeeding the it make us feel inadequate mums if we don’t breastfeed which is so wrong. I was lucky to have an amazing support of my husband as well as one Health Visitors who said do what is right for you and your baby, don’t listen to others and definitely do not feel guilty!
    I am glad you wrote your story as it helps me to see that I wasn’t alone with my experience!

  38. Swati says:

    Thanks you so much for sharing your experience. Actually my story is the same….literally word to word. My baby is now 10 months old…and the problem is not solved completely. Have you successful in pumping and feeding? My problem is she remains hungry and not allowing me to do a single thing…so i can’t able to pump and feed her. No much support. My doctor was also didn’t bother for her weight gain. Her weight gain percentile is 2% or max 3%. Can i cope up the loss?



    • Christie del Castillo-Hegyi MD says:

      Please supplement your baby with whatever safe breast milk substitutes you can. Failure to thrive is when a child is not gaining weight and that can affect brain development. Keep breastfeeding but your baby needs solid food and safe breast milk substitute.

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