My name is Cynthia G., a first time mom at the age of 39 with our miracle baby who we never expected since we were told we had “unexplained” infertility. Our daughter Amelia was born in 2016 at Kaiser Permanente in Irvine, California. I didn’t have a birth plan nor was I one of those moms-to-be that had it all planned out and knew every detail about having a child or going into labor. But what I did know was that I intended to breastfeed our daughter.
We were very happy with Kaiser’s baby-friendly approach and their pride of being one of the hospitals with a very high breastfeeding rate. We were told from the beginning that bottles and pacifiers were not allowed in the hospital so that the newborns and mothers had a chance to breastfeed. Of course, this information was never a red flag, but instead I found it to be another step towards encouraging breastfeeding. We even took the breastfeeding class they offered, but again we thought we were in good hands with great experts and completely trusted them.
At around 10 a.m. my water broke. I had zero pain nor contractions so I didn’t even know if my water breaking was something I needed to get to the hospital for or just wait until I felt pain. My mom who was with me that morning was the one that pushed me to go to the hospital even though I hardly thought I was in labor. Once I arrived at the hospital they did some testing to verify that indeed my water had broken. When the results came back positive I was told I would need to stay and begin the process of induction. Unfortunately, I progressed very slowly even with Pitocin in my system. When I finally got to be fully dilated it was around 1 p.m. the following day and I pushed for almost 4 hours until my midwife let me know that our baby was stuck in the birth canal because it had already been over 16 hours with my water broken, I had started to get a fever, which is the first sign of infection and something very dangerous for both of us. I was told we would need to have a c-section.
As soon as I was in recovery my breasts began to produce drops of colostrum and the nurses and the breastfeeding consultant came to my side to help me feed. My daughter was latching, but not the proper way, so they continued to come and help me post-op. At one point during my stay, a nurse came in to check on our baby’s blood sugar level, since she was born a big baby at almost 10 lbs, it was crucial for her sugar levels to be stable. The nurse told me to feed as much as possible. I continued to breastfed our daughter but something didn’t feel right. She didn’t seem like she was getting anything since she would get agitated while on my breast and wanted to suckle all of the time.
What science tells us is that mature breast milk averages around 20 calories per ounce (~30ml) and formula contains approximately 20 calories per ounce as well. Thus their per-milliliter (mL) calorie count is on average the same. Colostrum, a key substance that imparts passive maternal immunity to a newborn in the first few days of life if a mother breastfeeds, is lower in fat and carbohydrates than those two, and comes in around 17 calories per ounce (~30ml) (Guthrie 1989).
During the first night I remember our daughter screaming and wailing. I didn’t know what was wrong with her so the nurse came and asked if I had fed her and I said yes, so she suggested that I rock and cradle her. I remember my daughter screaming and I didn’t know what to do until another nurse came in and gave us some formula to give her, but she told me nurses at that hospital were not trained to formula feed and she told me to only give 5 ml. The signs in my room said the the baby’s stomach size was only a teaspoon, so I believed them.
At this point, I really felt my postpartum depression kick in because I started to feel like I wasn’t a good mother. I began to question if breastfeeding was the right choice for me. The nurse who would come in to check our baby’s sugar level insisted that I breastfeed my baby as much as possible and to feed formula to stabilize her low blood sugar. At that point my husband and I agreed that we would formula feed exclusively because I felt in my gut that I was not producing enough milk and I was very worried about her sugar level. As instructed, we fed her 5 ml at each feeding. My daughter continued to cry through our 4 day stay at the hospital and it was a loud and shrilling cry. It made me go further into despair to not understand why she was crying so much. At one point I remember begging the nurse for a pacifier and they insisted that I give her my breast instead because pacifiers were banned there. I honestly thought and told my husband that maybe our baby had colic and that’s why she was crying.
We were discharged four days later with our first pediatrician appointment the following day. We were still giving our baby 5 ml and feeding on demand as instructed. We found our daughter to be very lethargic during the night and when she would wake, she would cry non-stop. On the day of our first pediatrician appointment, our doctor was immediately alarmed at the amount of weight she had lost. She asked us how much we were feeding her and her jaw dropped. She told us that our daughter did not have colic; there is no such thing as colic in newborn. The reason she was crying is because she was starving. To this day I will never forget that nor can I forgive myself for this. This whole time our daughter was crying was because she was hungry and we were not feeding her enough. The doctor was also very concerned that she was very orange and so her bilirubin levels were checked. Our daughters jaundice levels were very high and the doctor told us to FEED, FEED, FEED to prevent hospitalization. She gave us the proper formula dosing and we did just what she asked. We fed our daughter every two hours and she perked up immediately! We did daily bilirubin checks and a week later her jaundice was gone and she had recovered her lost weight.
Words can never express the anger and disappointment I felt not only in myself but in the hospital, doctors, nurses and lactation consultants. In hindsight I felt like they were only interested in boosting their stats on breastfeeding, which is so completely unethical and negligent. A newborn child should be fed as adequately as possible and hospitals, doctors and nurses need to educated in infant feeding whether it’s formula or breast milk. I wish I would have educated myself with formula feeding so I wouldn’t have gone through what I did. I have made it my mission to educate new first-time moms about recognizing a hungry baby and supplementing their baby and I stress the importance of Fed Is Best. I know breast milk has great benefits, but babies can’t receive those benefits IF they are starved and harmed. My daughter is very healthy. She has never had an ear infection. She’s been on target with her growth charts and her cognitive skills are beyond her age. Every mother has a right to be taught the risks and benefits of breastfeeding and formula. This is what informed consent truly looks like.
Thank you for this organization – you guys are doing great work saving babies from harm!
— Cynthia G.
There are many ways you can support the mission of the Fed is Best Foundation. Please consider contributing in the following ways:
- 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.
- 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, 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 the work of the Foundation is achieved via the pro bono and volunteer work of its supporters.
- 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.
- 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.
- Print out our letter to obstetric providers and mail them to your local obstetricians, midwives, family practitioners who provide obstetric care and hospitals.
- 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 of mother’s rights to honest informed consent on the risks of insufficient feeding of breastfed babies.
- Send us your stories. Share with us your successes, your struggles and every thing in between. Every story saves another child from experiencing the same and teaches another mom how to safely feed her baby. Every voice contributes to change.
- Send us messages of support. We work every single day to make infant feeding safe and supportive of every mother and child. Your messages of support keep us all going.
- Shop and Fed is Best Foundation will earn cash back! We hope to develop our online safe infant feeding classes with these funds.
- 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 make a donation 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.
Thank you so much from the Founders of the Fed is Best Foundation!