My Breastfed Baby Starved While Under The Care Of Health Professionals For 5 Weeks

My beautiful baby girl Mary-Kate was delivered by emergency c-section, and although there were complications during labor, she was healthy on arrival. Having done a bit of research and listened to the advice of professionals, as well as the threat of the global pandemic posing a risk, I decided I would breastfeed my daughter, to provide her with passive antibodies for COVID-19 from my milk.

I began exclusively breastfeeding in the hospital and the midwife said Mary-Kate had the perfect latch. I loved being a mummy, I could not stop looking at this beautiful little human me and my partner had created, but Mary-Kate was becoming increasingly unsettled. She was almost always attached to my breast and would fall asleep soon after latching on. I spoke to the health visitors, and we were told her crying was colic.  We began giving Mary-Kate lots of colic-type remedies. 

Each time somebody came to weigh her whether it be the GP, HV, or Midwife, Mary-Kate was not gaining and was in fact losing weight. I could not understand, because she was ALWAYS feeding. Nobody seemed alarmed by this. I was told to just keep trying, she might be a ‘slow starter’. Never once did they check to see what my milk supply was or how much she was getting. The professionals would leave, and I would carry on as normal. Baby attached to the breast, me trying to maintain some sort of order in the home, taking care of my personal needs and sleep. Mary-Kate would just cry and cry and cry unless asleep at my breast.  I was exhausted, I was falling asleep whilst holding my baby and I knew this presented its own risks. 

 ‘If I don’t stop breastfeeding, I will make her ill, I’m failing her’ are the types of thoughts that were consuming me. 

Her growth chart indicates an immediate intervention  is necessary at week one. Instead, she was given colic remedies to ‘stop’ her crying. Her cries were from hunger and thirst. Birth – Just below 25th Centile Lowest – Just above 0.4th Centile

 

My health visitor came to visit around week 4 and was starting to become a bit concerned regarding the lack of weight gain so she decided to get a lactation specialist involved. I was not told to supplement even though she knew my baby was not gaining weight while I waited for another week to see the lactation consultant.  On week 5, the lactation nurse came, went over the latch, and taught me how to squeeze my breast when nursing. She then told me to use a tube to put against my nipple and then into Mary-Kates’s mouth. She told me to keep Mary-Kate on the breast for one more week and we would assess the situation when we weighed her again. This was the final straw for me. I knew something was not right and I should not be having to put my baby through all of this to be fed so I began thinking about turning to bottle feeding.  

We were in the middle of tier 3 lockdown in my area, so I was not allowed any visitors, except for my Mum. She would come and visit as often as she possibly could, just to offer support. After the lactation consultant left, an hour later my mum turned up, saw my daughter, and looked very alarmed. She said, “Emma, she is doing poorly, her bones are protruding.” She went on to say, “I think you need to feed her formula right away.”  I then told my mum I had made the decision earlier that day to feed her formula. From that moment on, we bottle-fed my baby because she was so weak. 

It was only when my baby was 3 months old did I really appreciate the severity of her weight loss. It’s difficult to look back at pictures of her first 6 weeks because she looks so poorly, so fragile, so weak! I carried so much guilt for so long. How did I not notice? I look back now, and I feel that there is intense, unrelenting pressure around infant feeding. Breast is best, is plastered all over any sort of baby feeding advertisements. It’s even written on a formula. It’s EVERYWHERE!

 I was very angry and I wrote a complaint and sought legal advice.

When Mary-Kate was 5 months old, I was forwarded an article about a very similar situation to mine, and the baby was not as lucky as Mary-Kate and passed away. This is more common than I ever realized. There is no shame in changing a feeding ‘plan’. There is no such thing as the ‘perfect mum’. Just do you! 

Mary-Kate still has a bit of catching up to do. She is almost 8 months old and has just started in 3–6-month-old clothing, but she is healthy and hitting all her milestones. I will never be able to thank my mum enough for being strong enough to tell me, I needed to feed her formula right away, but I am also proud of myself for following her advice. 

Having been through this horrific experience, what have I learned?  FED IS BEST.

Whether it’s formula or breastfeeding, if you and your baby are thriving, that is all that matters. 

-E.H.


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HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT FED IS BEST

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

  1. Join us in any of the Fed is Best volunteer and advocacy, groups. Click here to join our health care professionals group. We have:  FIBF Advocacy Group, Research Group, Volunteer Group, Editing Group, Social Media Group, Legal Group, Marketing Group, Perinatal Mental Health Advocacy Group, Private Infant Feeding Support Group, Global Advocacy Group, and Fundraising Group.    Please send an email to Jody@fedisbest.org  if you are interested in joining any of our volunteer groups. 
  2. If you need infant feeding support, we have a private support group– Join us here.
  3. If you or your baby were harmed from complications of insufficient breastfeeding please send a message to contact@fedisbest.org 
  4. 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.
  5. Sign our petition!  Help us reach our policymakers, and drive change at a global level. Help us stand up for the lives of millions of infants who deserve a fighting chance.   Sign the Fed is Best Petition at Change.org  today, and share it with others.
  6. 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 FREE infant feeding educational resources to expectant moms that you know. Share the Fed is Best campaign letter with everyone you know.
  7. Write a letter to your health providers and hospitals about the Fed is Best Foundation. Write to them about feeding complications your child may have experienced.
  8. Print out our letter to obstetric providers and mail them to your local obstetricians, midwives, family practitioners who provide obstetric care and hospitals.
  9. Write your local elected officials about what is happening to newborn babies in hospitals and ask for the 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.
  10. 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 safely feed her baby. Every voice contributes to change.
  11. 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.
  12.  Shop at Amazon Smile and Amazon donates to Fed Is Best Foundation.

Or simply send us a message to find out how you can help make a difference with new ideas!

For any urgent messages or questions about infant feeding, please do not leave a message on this page as it will not get to us immediately. Instead, please email christie@fedisbest.org.

 Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you!

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