On Easter morning, I gave birth to a perfect 7 lb 15 oz little girl named Coraline Quinn. Cora started life as the world’s happiest little baby. She almost never cried and just wanted to snuggle more than anything in the world.
However, our first visit with one of the lactation consultants immediately had me scratching my head. The lactation consultant reassured me that nobody would attempt to “sabotage my breastfeeding” in their facility, unlike others. Then they helped me get her to latch, said that we were doing great and that she was getting enough to eat. 24 hours later, she was a fussy mess that was inconsolable unless she was being held. We fed a ton, but she’d get frustrated and break the latch to cry every 3-4 swallows. Lactation was consulted again, and they reassured me that everything was fine and that these were standard findings for the second day and I continued feeding as instructed.
On day 3, her bilirubin levels were elevated and she needed to go on phototherapy. This happens in babies who don’t get enough to eat, but I brushed it off as a random event. After all, lactation said we were doing great.
By then she was so agitated that the concept of keeping her in a bassinet with lights was laughable. She screamed shrilly whenever she was put down and would continue the racket for hours at a time, so we spent 18 hours straight holding her on her biliblanket in our laps with the lamp above her. Lactation was AGAIN called, and they instructed me to begin pumping and syringe feeding it to her. At first I got only drops. I was told to just rub it on her gums and she’d be fine. About 12 hours later I was getting anywhere from 1-2 ccs at a time and was completely alarmed that my volume was so low. Again, a pat on the head and a reassurance that Cora was alright, despite the fact that she’d lost 10% of her birth weight in less than 72 hours, had only one wet diaper a day, and had dry mucus membranes…all chief signs of dehydration. I asked when it was time to start supplementing with formula and was told it was unnecessary.
“At first I got only drops. I was told to just rub it on her gums and she’d be fine. About 12 hours later I was getting anywhere from 1-2 ccs at a time and was completely alarmed that my volume was so low. Again, a pat on the head and a reassurance that Cora was alright…”
I pumped every 2 hours around the clock, never getting more than 5 ccs of colostrum at a time. When they rechecked her bilirubin the next morning following an exhausting night of constant pumping, nursing, and syringe feeding, it had gone UP, not down…despite a full day of phototherapy. She wasn’t producing enough waste to eliminate it from her blood. She didn’t have the adequate fluid volume to do so. The night nurse finally called it, asked me if I wanted to supplement, and ordered me to feed her FIVE TIMES the amount she was currently getting every 2 hours.
Immediately, she was back to her first day personality. She stopped crying, stopped fidgeting, and started sleeping in her bassinet under the lights. She stopped making that heartbreaking and incessant high pitched scream. Her dirty and wet diapers picked up in quantity. Her lips were full again.
We stayed in the hospital for six days total, four more than we should have. Cora’s levels are under control now, but I’m still only producing enough milk to meet about 85% of her needs. I’m beside myself with anger at these people who instructed me to starve my baby and then told me that all of the concerns I was expressing were normal newborn behavior. I’m angry at myself for following the advice of an authority figure instead of relying on my own intuition and knowledge that something was wrong.
“I’m guilt stricken that her first six days of life were needlessly miserable because of the breastfeeding cult mentality that constantly screeches “breast is best,” even when it’s not.”
I recently became aware of your organization after giving birth in a Baby-Friendly hospital. My experience in that institution has damaged me emotionally and I may never forgive them (or myself) for what happened to my new daughter while we were under their care.
My baby is doing just great now. I’ve switched to exclusive pumping along with formula supplementation so that I can ensure accuracy of her feeds and she’s just blossomed with this new arrangement. She’s perfect. #FedIsBest
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