Baby-Friendly Health Professionals Blinded Me to My Own Baby’s Starvation


Oliver1MonthMy beautiful boy was born on July 13, 2016 at 8:33 p.m. in a Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) certified hospital in Florida. I had every intention of breastfeeding my child, heck, I even wanted to continue beyond age one. I took classes for breastfeeding, read everything I could get my hands on, and I felt completely ready and excited to start this journey with my little one.
From the start we were plagued with latch issues due to a tongue tie and pretty severe lip tie. In the hospital he had his tongue tie clipped and we had three board-certified lactation consultants come into our room to help us achieve a perfect latch. Looking back now, I should have known something wasn’t right. I should have recognized the infrequent urination, the constant nursing (some days as many as 21 times in 24 hours), and the fact his skin hung from his once round body.
Oliver was born at 8 pounds 10 ounces and by 4 weeks old he only weighed 8 pounds 2 ounces; simply maintaining his weight was a constant battle for me.

I visited a lactation consultant (IBCLC) at the pediatrician’s office on the advice from my doctor. The IBCLC recommended a plan to start building a milk supply for him. I began taking fenugreek, power pumping, triple feeding, eating lactation cookies, mother’s milk tea, and any lactation supplement I could find, all in an attempt to increase my supply.
Triple feeding began with me nursing for 15 minutes per side, then handing him off to dad for a bottle of expressed milk, and then me pumping for another 20 minutes. This entire process was done at every single feeding and took 45 minutes or more. We had about an hour and a half before we had to start the whole thing over, and this included every middle of the night feed. I could not have breastfed for as long as I did without the complete support of my husband, I needed him. It was so hard to need him for every single feed- we could not have a break from it, we could not go out, we were chained to the couches in the living room in an endless loop. Despite pumping for 20 minutes or more at a time, it was still not working out, as I got less than an ounce total every session. I could not keep up with him.
After three weeks of triple feeds, mentally I could not take it anymore. I again went to my lactation consultant and we reviewed my breastfeeding plan. Now that I was back at work, I knew this was not a way I could live. I was attached to my pump at home, attached to my pump 3 times a day at work, and all for less than 4 oz a day. I had begun to suffer from near constant clogged ducts, while at his weighed feeding he ate only .25 ounce on each breast.

At this point we reluctantly decided to start supplementing with formula and she said I probably have insufficient glandular tissue (IGT).  No one ever mentioned to me that my breasts could not make enough milk–until now. 

I will never forget the LC’s kindness in that moment as I sat there and felt defeated. She told me, “You are wonder woman. You have done more for your baby than I have ever seen, he will do great on formula.” I felt like I needed permission to begin strictly formula feeding, I did not want to formula feed.

The thought of exclusively formula feeding made me feel like a failure. I would stare at the nameplate that was placed on Oliver’s bassinet in the hospital that listed all the benefits to breastfeeding; I would look at the formula container that had the words “Breastfeeding is best” on the back, and I would cry. I felt like I was letting my child down, I couldn’t even feed him.


We began to supplement around 4 weeks and his weight went up to 11 pounds 3 ounces in a 3 week time period. I continued to breastfeed, pump, and use formula until Oliver turned 3 months old. Today he is a thriving six month old. He has not been “damaged’ because of formula, he has not failed to develop because of formula. Formula kept him alive, formula helped him grow, formula nourished his body; formula saved my boy. I will tell anyone who will listen that fed is best. Breastfed, formula fed, combo fed, feeding tube fed, it’s whatever your baby needs that’s best.


Has your baby suffered from insufficient milk intake from strict exclusive breastfeeding policies?  Please contact us so we can share your story to help educate parents all over the world on how to prevent accidental starvation.   #SafeBreastfeeding #FedIsBest

For more information on how to protect 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.

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

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


4 thoughts on “Baby-Friendly Health Professionals Blinded Me to My Own Baby’s Starvation

  1. Alaina says:

    So nice to see a story with a happy ending. Fed is definitely best and I think of formula like one of the wonders of modern medicine. You hope you don’t need it, but if you do, it is there and it is such a simple solution that can save lives. So happy to hear that parents and baby are now thriving! Congratulations on your little one.

  2. Laura says:

    I will never forget the struggles I had with nursing. My daughter is now 28 and expecting her first. Like you, I was determined to breast feed solely. Thank heavens, in those days they sent babies home from the hospital with sterile water in little bottles, so I knew there was no shame in keeping her hydrated with other than milk. My milk did not come in until DAY SIX. I have never heard of anyone with that experience. They say that colostrum is sufficient, and not to supplement with formula because it will contribute to the infant not taking to the breast, but I had a large baby, and she was hungry. I had my daughter to the breast practically round the clock. She would try to nurse for 2 hours, 1 hour on each breast, and be ready to start again. She was crying constantly and did not seem satisfied. I had no idea what to do. There was no advice available… I called our childbirth class instructor, and was told to try to relax, to drink a beer. I finally had the presence of mind to ask my husband to buy some formula from the pharmacy. I fed formula until my milk came in, alternating with putting her to the breast. She took equally to breast and bottle, never showing a preference for either. I breastfed for 2 more months, not nearly as long as I had hoped, but I simply did not produce enough milk. I’m so fortunate my daughter was healthy and that we had the experience of nursing, but it is critical that young moms be told that everyone is different, and some mothers and babies might need supplementation.

  3. Minna says:

    After reading all these stories shared by these brave mamas I felt shocked and so sad. I experienced a similar situation after I gave birth to my 9th and 10th child. Being an experienced mom I believe helped me to advocate for my hungry baby. My baby cried and cried even after feeding constantly in the hospital. I thought I was doing something wrong. I called the nurse in and said she won’t sleep and she seems like she is starving. I was told she was cluster feeding and was assured she was getting enough because of the tiny size of her tummy. The nurse swaddled her and said she is just fine. After about 12 hours of constantly feeding and listening to my baby just cry I asked for a bottle. The nurse tried to convince me she was fine but then reluctantly said , “if a mom of ten tells me her baby needs a bottle I’m going to get her a bottle!” At the time I didn’t think about that comment at all, but after reading these stories it made me really think; what if I wasn’t a mom of ten? What if this was my first? Would I not have been allowed to have a bottle? Well after almost guzzling the whole bottle she slept! I looked at my husband and said “she was starving!” Luckily for me my milk cane in the next day and I have a healthy baby girl who nudes well and easily and I have a large milk supply. I love breast feeding and it’s a beautiful experience, but I have also bottle fed exclusively when I was younger when I became a mom to my first 3 children. I want moms to know it doesn’t matter how your baby is fed, bottle or breast, the love and bond will be there either way. Don’t let anyone guilt you into thinking there is only one way. Use your instincts, your God given intuition, if your baby is crying constantly they are asking you for something. Thank you for sharing your stories and shedding light on this issue that is so hidden . You are so brave!
    With much love,

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