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

by Jillian Johnson with commentary from Dr. Christie del Castillo-Hegyi

Landon would be five today if he were still alive. It’s a very hard birthday–five. It’s a milestone birthday. Most kiddos would be starting kindergarten at this age. But not my little guy. I wanted to share for a long time about what happened to Landon, but I always feared what others would say and how I’d be judged. But I want people to know how much deeper the pain gets.

I share his story in hopes that no other family ever experiences the loss that we have.

Jarrod and I wanted what was best for Landon as every parent does for their child. We took all of the classes. Bought and read all of the books. We were ready! Or so we thought….every class and book was geared toward breastfeeding and how it’s so important if you want a healthy child. Landon was born in a “Baby-Friendly” hospital. (What this means is everything is geared toward breastfeeding. Unless you’d had a breast augmentation or cancer or some serious medical reason as to why you couldn’t breastfeed, your baby would not be given formula unless a prescription was written by the pediatrician.)

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“I made An Informed Decision To Formula Feed My Baby And It Was Perfect For Us

Before I ever became pregnant, I knew that feeding my future babies formula would be the right way to go. I have fibromyalgia, several chronic stomach problems, and mental health struggles, so it made sense to formula feed. I would need to go back on medications I’d have to stop while pregnant. My husband agreed that formula feeding would work best for us.

When I got pregnant, I felt sure of that decision, until I started reading, prepping for the new addition to our family, and talking to other people about the baby. I, much like every parent-to-be, was bombarded with the message everywhere that “Breast is Best”. It was in articles and books. It was labeled on everything related to baby feeding. It was in every online forum regardless of the topic. I was even hit by it when I went shopping online for car seats and strollers. But I expected all of that. So, when I came across it, I would roll my eyes and laugh about it with my husband.

I was not been prepared for the well-meaning friends and coworkers who hit me with the same message. They all said it in different ways and tones, but the meaning was the same. Sometimes it was an assumption: “You’re obviously going to breastfeed, right?” Other times it was an attempt to convince me: “It’s so much cheaper and better for the baby to breastfeed!” I even got the plea: “Just do it for her for a little bit!” Even my obstetrician assumed that I would breastfeed, judging by the time I tried to ask her for a refill on my anti-morning sickness medicine and she finished my sentence thinking I was asking for a referral for a free breast pump through my insurance.

This message coming from all directions put me into a position where I felt like I needed to justify myself. Suddenly, I doubted my decision. What if I wasn’t doing what was best for my baby? Obviously, I wanted to. What if I was being selfish about wanting to go back on the medicine that made me feel like I could function? I wondered if maybe I did not need to go back on my meds right away. If I had gone this long without my meds, what was a little longer, if breastfeeding was that important?

Thankfully, I am surrounded by amazing and supportive family. My husband has seen me on my worst health days and knows how much my medicine helps my quality of life. He reminded me how important it is for me to feel as best as I can, because there is so much more to caring for our baby than just how she is fed. My mother was a voice of reason. She agreed that I needed to take care of myself to take care of my daughter. My mother-in-law added her support for us to formula feed. She knew formula was a great way to feed a baby and was not buying into the supposed “facts” from the “Breast is Best” message. My sister-in-law reminded me of how much formula had helped her when she struggled to produce enough milk for her daughter. My sister-in-law was also the one who introduced me to The Fed is Best Foundation’s website, which is filled with scientific facts and resources about all types of infant feeding.

By the time I was five months along, I was once again sure of my decision to formula feed my baby from day one. I was armed with an explanation why I was not going to breastfeed and why formula feeding was going to best for my family. I noticed a significant difference in the way conversations went once I made my statements with the confidence my family helped me find. And then, another phrase came along…

“It’s okay because you have a reason not to breastfeed.”

Woah, okay. Let’s unpack that statement, shall we?

First and foremost, this statement does not actually provide any support. It is non-support veiled as a supportive comment. By someone stating my choice is okay, it means they are passing judgement on my decision. THEY deemed it was acceptable for ME to feed MY baby this way because of what THEY considered to be appropriate reasons. It did not matter to them that I had decided this was appropriate reasoning and only my husband and I could decide what was best. My decision was acceptable because the person speaking decided it was. The focus of the statement is still on the fact that I won’t be breastfeeding.

Why does the focus of this conversation need to be about breastfeeding? Why can’t the focus be on my informed and logical choice to feed my baby formula?

Ultimately, I realized that this conversation has absolutely nothing to do with what’s “best” for me and my family and everything to do with the way everyone else feels about infant feeding. And that positively infuriated me. Who the hell did these people think they were? But despite raging hormones, I just smiled politely and moved the conversation onto a different topic. I had no desire to start a fight at work or in a group of friends.

The last several weeks of my pregnancy were filled with extra appointments and ultrasounds to watch my daughter’s growth. At the first trimester screening, the scan showed that my placenta never formed correctly. It had a fold down the middle and looked like a coffee bean instead of a pancake. The doctor thought that my placenta may not be working as well as it should, so my baby’s growth needed to be closely monitored. At thirty-six weeks, she had dropped from the fortieth percentile to the thirteenth percentile in growth. By thirty-eight weeks, she had dropped below the tenth percentile, so I was induced during that week. After several days of hurry up and waiting in the hospital, my daughter finally came out and was 20 ½ inches and weighed only 5 lbs., 6 oz. You could see her ribs, she was so scrawny. Within an hour of being born, she took right to the bottle and ate about 10 mL of formula.

LizC2

The first weeks of her life are a blur, even though she was only born about nine months ago. We had to do a few formula changes before we realized that our baby had inherited my acid reflux. She had a terrible time with sleeping at night for the first month and a half or so. I struggled with post-partum depression and anxiety, and recovery was a little tough with my fibromyalgia.

 

My husband and I just kept saying, thank God for formula. Our daughter was gaining weight. Her pediatrician was so pleased with how well she put on weight. Thanks to formula, we never worried if she ate enough or was getting the proper nutrition. Thanks to formula, I could take my meds that helped my body and mind transition from carrying a baby to caring for a baby. Formula feeding truly was best for our family.

So, mothers, fathers, non-binary parents, grandparents, adoptive parents, foster parents, and anyone else who cares for a baby, I have one plea for you:

Do what is best for your family. Your baby matters. You matter. Your significant other (if you have one) matters. It can be hard to feel sure of that when you have people talk to you this way. It can be horrible to read the wrong, nasty comment from some judgmental stranger online. If you are struggling with your decision to formula feed your baby, just remember, you do not owe anyone an explanation. And if you need support, I and everyone at The Fed is Best Foundation have your back.21034329_1906956496188877_3625144469078855676_n

FedIsBest

 

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 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, 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.
  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, 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 of 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 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.
  8. 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.
  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

Thank you so much from the Founders of the Fed is Best Foundation!

 

 

 

Can Redefining Infant Feeding Goals Enable Families to Feel Confident About How They Nourish Their Babies?

Written by Dr. Ruth Ann Harpur, Clinical Psychologist 

Current guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) encourage women to exclusively breastfeed their babies for six months and to continue to breastfeed, alongside introducing solid foods, throughout the first year and beyond. These guidelines are adopted by major health authorities throughout the world, and millions of pregnant women are unilaterally encouraged to follow them.

However, the WHO standard is clearly not attainable for all women, as is borne out by the data. Despite the fact that most women initiate breastfeeding, only a minority will attain the six-month standard. For example, in the UK, only seventeen percent of women are exclusively breastfeeding at three months, and by six months, only thirty-four percent of babies are receiving any breast milk at all (Infant Feeding Survey 2010). In the US, 44 percent of babies are exclusively breastfed at 3 months, and at 6 months, 22 percent of babies are exclusively breastfed.

Current research shows that women who intend to breastfeed, but subsequently turn to formula, are at particularly high risk for postnatal depression (Borra et al., 2015). Interestingly, the paper also indicates that women who don’t intend to breastfeed, but who breastfeed anyway, are also at increased risk for postnatal depression.

Whatever the reasons women turn to formula, studies examining the experiences of these women consistently report feelings of guilt, anger, worry, uncertainty, and a sense of failure. At the same time, these mothers also reported a sense of relief when formula was introduced  (Lakshman, Ogilvie, & Ong, 2009).

We do not yet have a solid evidence-based understanding of why this link exists, as the relationship between feeding experiences and postnatal mental health issues is likely to be complex and different for different women. However, one thing is for sure, there is a huge human and emotional cost for many women and their families when breastfeeding doesn’t work out. Stories such as this one, Postpartum & Motherhood: Battle Wounds & Badge of Honour which Masumé has generously shared, speak to these costs, show that these women are not alone, and, thankfully, give hope that recovery is possible and motherhood can be fully enjoyed and embraced with or without breast milk.

However, I think we need to ask ourselves, as a society, and especially for those of us who work in healthcare, if there is a different way. My experience as a mother and as a clinical psychologist has led me to believe that our current definition of “success” and “failure” is a large contributor to the psychological distress many mothers experience when they are unable to realize their hopes for how they feed their babies.

First, I think we need to recognize that the WHO standards are clearly not attainable or safe for all women and babies. Some newborn babies experience serious feeding-related complications in the attempt to reach this exclusive breastfeeding standard. Evidence shows up to one in five of new mothers will experience delayed onset of mature milk, while an unknown amount mothers never establish lactation. Pushing exclusive breastfeeding in the face of these realities puts newborns at risk for feeding related complications ranging from hyperbilirubinemia, hypoglycemia to acute dehydration,and even death.  For some babies, supplementation is literally life-saving, and yet their mothers still feel a sense of failure for not achieving the prescribed breastfeeding standard.

I propose we collectively redefine successful feeding to take into account the unique needs of each mother, baby, and family. Rather than focusing on the feeding process, we should set goals which prioritize healthy outcomes for families and which are attainable through all available safe feeding methods.

I was particularly inspired to write this article because of the many mothers within The Fed is Best Foundation’s private support community who have experienced difficulties while breastfeeding their first baby, and are confused and torn as to whether or not to try again with a second child. As an expert in mental health, I feel we must help parents set realistic goals that allow them to feel positive, confident, and supported in the process of nourishing their baby.

1) The first and foremost healthy and attainable feeding goal is a fully nourished, thriving, and satisfied baby.

If your feeding method of choice isn’t keeping baby fully nourished, then it’s time to do something about it. Maybe you started out breastfeeding, but the baby is showing signs of hunger. This can be assessed using The Fed Is Best Foundation’s HUNGRY guidelines. If we revise the unrealistic goal of exclusive breastfeeding for every woman to the goal of a nutritionally satisfied baby, then making the informed choice to supplement with expressed breast milk or formula becomes a positive solution to a problem instead of a negative indication of failure.

That said, the act of feeding a baby provides more than physical nourishment. It also brings comfort, family, community, sharing, and bonding, and perhaps never more so than when nourishing a newborn eight to twelve times per day.

2) This brings us to the second healthy and attainable feeding goal: for mother and baby to feed in comfort.

There’s no getting around it. Some babies take to breastfeeding like a duck to water. Others need a little help learning to suck effectively. Mothers need time and support to learn breastfeeding positions that work both for themselves and their baby. Some babies experience gas and reflux, and those babies may need some help to feed comfortably. Sometimes, no matter how much support is given, a mother will experience breastfeeding as painful, or a baby will be unable to attain a good enough latch to suckle effectively.

If breastfeeding is not comfortable for you, as a mother, then take action. Get help with latch and positioning, and seek medical advice for possible conditions that may interfere with comfort while breastfeeding.

Sadly, some women find breastfeeding so uncomfortable that they begin to dread feeding sessions. Preserving through constant pain and discomfort helps absolutely nobody and may threaten the bond between mother and baby. This is an urgent reason to re-evaluate feeding methods. A baby needs to be fed with love and in comfort, not through a mother’s tears or gritted teeth.

For instance, if a mother finds direct breastfeeding too mentally or physically painful to continue, but still wants to provide some breast milk, then expressing milk may be an option. Pumping can work for some women, or it can become too emotionally and physically demanding for others. Time spent with a mechanical pump is time in which a mother is unable to rest, and possibly unable to spend time with her baby or other children. If pumping doesn’t work for a particular woman or family, then, sometimes, the best thing is to let go of that goal without guilt.

3) The third healthy and attainable feeding goal is for the mother to be fully present and emotionally available to baby, older children and/or partners.

This really does come down to individual families and what they need, given their particular circumstances. However, being emotionally available to the family unit requires at least a reasonable amount of sleep, management of physical pain, and treatment of any physical or mental health conditions.

For some women, breastfeeding is a very positive and fulfilling experience which enhances family life. For others, it has a negative and draining effect on the family dynamic for a variety of reasons. More individualized approaches are beneficial, as any number of issues may arise for which a re-evaluation of the goals is required in order to maintain everyone’s emotional and physical wellness.

For example, if a mother feels her mental health is impacted by sleep deprivation, a partner can give a night time bottle feed to allow mum to get some much-needed rest. I have worked with women for whom a full night’s sleep is essential for that mother’s mental health. Under such circumstances, a partner helping with night feeds becomes vitally important. Breastfeeding may still be possible with expressed milk or supplementary formula given at night, however we should keep in mind that the goal is not exclusive breastfeeding, but rather, a happy and functional family.

Other mothers wish to breastfeed, but then find that their mental or physical health must take priority. Sometimes the best thing is for a mother to fully formula feed in order to take medication that is incompatible with breastfeeding. This is an entirely reasonable thing to do. A mothers’ physical and mental health matters to them, to their partners, and to their children. Nobody benefits from a mother who is suffering, least of all a baby who needs, above all else, to feel loved and enjoyed by their family.

Each mother and each family needs to consider their own circumstances and determine what is a priority for them.

I encourage parents to set aside the WHO recommendations, and instead take up these three feeding goals of a fully physically nourished baby, a comfortable feeding relationship, and a mother that feels emotionally available for her family. These goals are attainable regardless of which (clinically safe) method you use to get there.

By changing how we define successful infant feeding, we can empower families to feel positive and confident about how they nourish their babies, and we may prevent the psychological stress which results when things don’t go according to plan.

We must recognize that a feeding method is successful when a mother is comfortable and relaxed, and she is confident her baby is nourished. Successful feeding is a fully fed baby who knows he or she is loved and nourished, physically and emotionally, in a calm, healthy, and happy family.

RuthAnn

Ruth Ann holds a PhD in developmental psychology from the University of Southampton and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of East Anglia. After unexpectedly turning to formula to feed her daughter, she came across The Fed is Best Foundation and was moved and disturbed by the level of psychological distress, depression, anxiety, and trauma which many women reaching out to The Foundation are experiencing. An expert in mental health, she is passionate about empowering women to confidently nourish themselves and their baby, whatever their feeding method.

 

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 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, 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.
  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, 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 of 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 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.
  8. 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.
  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

Thank you so much from the Founders of the Fed is Best Foundation!

 

 

I Was Producing Drops Of Breastmilk And My IBCLC Denied My Request To Supplement My Baby With Formula.

My son, Harrison, was born 8 weeks ago at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, Va. He decided it was time to meet mom and dad two weeks before his due date and was born via C-section after 22 hours of labor. At birth he was 8 pounds 2 ounces and 21 1/2 inches long.

Before giving birth, my husband and I took every class the hospital offered. We took the two hour infant CPR class, nine hour childbirth class, three hour bringing home baby class, and three hour breastfeeding class. As first-time parents, we were filled with nervous excitement. Harrison is our miracle baby. I went through fertility treatments because PCOS and hyperthyroidism made it impossible for me to get pregnant without medical intervention.

After the unplanned C-section I was in no shape to help with Harrison’s care. The sweet nurses spent time with my husband and showed him how to diaper and swaddle. When it came time to breastfeed, Harrison latched right away and fell asleep soon after.

This continued for 12 hours and I started to become concerned. A lactation consultant was making the rounds and stopped in to check on us. I told her I didn’t think Harrison was actually eating or that I was producing anything. She specifically asked if I had PCOS and said that having that condition could affect my milk production. A few minutes later, she sent in another consultant to hook me up to a pump.

I pumped for 20 minutes and got droplets. The other consultant assured me this was enough to feed my eight pound baby. This was Thursday.

On Friday afternoon my husband left the hospital to install the car seat, set up the bassinet, and buy a few things at Target. I was left alone for the first time since Harrison’s birth. Harrison was born at 10:35 a.m. on Wednesday, so by midday on Friday he was really starting to get hungry. Knowing I wasn’t producing milk and that my baby hadn’t eaten, I started to cry—a lot. A nurse came in and asked what was going on. I explained that I didn’t think Harrison was getting any milk. She sent in a lactation consultant.

I asked the lactation consultant for formula to supplement, but she didn’t give me any. She said to keep trying to breastfeed because I was able to produce droplets the day before and she put me on a pumping regimen.

Stomach20ml

We left the hospital Saturday afternoon. Harrison was jaundiced and had lost 10% of his birth weight.  He hadn’t eaten yet in his life and I still had no milk. We got home and I continued to breastfeed him every two hours. He’d latch, then fall asleep. My husband would try to wake him up and then hand him back to me to feed. The cycle would continue for an hour. Then we took an hour off and tried it again. At this point Harrison didn’t want to latch any more.

#2 Why Fed is Best- Underfeeding standarfOfCare

On Sunday morning around 2 a.m. Harrison woke up crying hysterically. He had enough of starving. He cried for hours and refused to latch. My husband got the sample of ready-made formula and gave it to him. I finally saw relief in Harrison’s eyes. It was a relief to me as well—but it was also heartbreaking. I knew, for a fact, that it was the first time he had nourishment of any kind. It was Sunday. He was born that past Wednesday.

I didn’t give up on my breastfeeding goal. I tried to breastfeed Harrison at each feeding. He’d latch and then fall asleep or he wouldn’t latch at all. I started giving him two ounces of ready-made formula after offering him the breast and he would consume the entire bottle. After he ate I pumped for 30 minutes. My highest amount of milk was 20 milliliters for both breasts.

That night I couldn’t sleep. I was convinced Harrison had severe jaundice. In the morning, we went to the pediatrician who ordered blood tests. The results showed that his jaundice was going down since I started giving him formula and his weight began  increasing.

We went to see the lactation consultants eight days after Harrison was born and spent two hours with them. They said that Harrison wasn’t eating because he had a tongue tie (he didn’t) and his jaundice was making him lethargic. They again acknowledged that my PCOS may cause me to not produce milk, but kept coming back to the fact that there was something wrong with Harrison. Then they weighed him before and after nursing. There was no change in weight. I again asked how to correctly supplement with formula while my milk “came in.” They said I should stay on the same triple feeding regimen.  They never told me to see my pediatrician, but gave me a book and a cookie recipe.

I continued with the pumping regimen for two more weeks. I cried while I pumped. I felt like a complete failure. I was connected to a pump and my supply was getting even lower. I couldn’t do the most fundamental thing that a mother does. My husband finally convinced me to stop. Once I gave up the idea that I had to breastfeed to be a good mother, the crying stopped. Harrison was back to his birth weight by the second week. By the end of his first month, he was a full pound heavier. He’s a happy, beautiful little boy. I’m a good mom and my husband is a wonderful dad.

Looking back on my experience, I can identify the short comings that nearly landed my baby back in the hospital:

(1) My OBGYN never telling me that PCOS could affect my ability to breastfeed,

(2) The breastfeeding class never addressing the signs that supplementing needed to occur.

(3) The lactation consultants not giving me formula, attempting to convince me that my milk was going to come in, and worrying me that my little boy—who was getting healthier every day because I was feeding him formula—was really sick.

I spoke to a friend who is a second year resident at another hospital. The other day he had a new mom bring her eight day old into the ER. The baby was suffering from dehydration and was hours from seizing. This wasn’t neglect. It was a mom who was convinced that she was doing what was best for her child—breastfeeding. That baby could easily have been Harrison if I had followed the advice of the lactation consultants. Thank goodness I followed my instincts instead.

Harrison

 

 

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 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, 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.
  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, 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 of 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 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Shop and Fed is Best Foundation will earn cash back! We hope to develop our online safe infant feeding classes with these funds.

Thank you so much from the Founders of the Fed is Best Foundation!

 

 

 

Infant Feeding Considerations for Emergency Situations

By Jody Segrave-Daly, RN, IBCLC, Co-Founder of the Fed is Best Foundation

During an emergency the sudden disruption of electrical power, clean water, and social relief services can impact the safe acquisition and storage of formula or human milk, as well as the ability to heat water for optimal cleaning practices. Consider the options below to help you prepare for and cope with a disaster:

Preparing Safe Food Items

PUMPED/EXPRESSED BREAST MILK

Pumped breastmilk can be stored in sterile (disposable) bags in a portable cooler with pre-frozen water bottles or ice packs for up to 24 hours. Thawing breastmilk may be refrozen if ice crystals are still evident once power returns. Pump dependent mothers should have 1-2 hand pumps in case all other options fail. External batteries or a vehicle charger/power supply for pumping in the car if its safe is helpful for a short period of time. Use the correct technique to maximize hand expression output.

FORMULA

Consider buying 4-7 days worth of pre-mixed, “ready to feed” bottles of formula, as well as a corresponding amount of clean bottles and nipples. Single use bottles of pre-mixed“nursettes” with disposable nipples or bottles with disposable liners may be especially useful for ease of storage and cleaning.

READY-TO-FEED BABY/TODDLER FOOD

To prepare, buy 4-7 days worth of pre-made baby/toddler meals, disposable utensils, cups, and plates. Opened food may be kept up to 24 hours in a portable cooler.

CLEAN WATER

Having an ample supply of clean water is a top priority in any emergency. A normally active person needs at least two quarts (half a gallon) of water each day. People in hot environments, children, nursing mothers, and ill people will require even more. Store at least one gallon per person, per day. You will also need water for food preparation and hygiene. Consider storing at least a two-week supply of water for each member of your family. If you are unable to store this quantity, store as much as you can.

Preparing Safe Feeding Supplies

HOW TO CLEAN FEEDING SUPPLIES (PUMP, BOTTLE, PACIFIER etc.)

In the absence of power or hot water you can still take steps to make sure your feeding supplies are sufficiently clean:

You will need:
  • High quality paper towels
  • liquid dish soap
  • antiseptic wipes
  • disposable gloves
  • hand sanitizer
  • 1 large plastic bowls for washing
  • 1 plastic bowl for rinsing
  • 1 large container with lid for storage of clean feeding supplies.
Steps:
  • Clean prep surface with antiseptic wipes and wash hands
  • Place parts in a clean wash basin (large plastic bowl) used only for washing infant feeding equipment.
  • Fill wash basin with CLEAN water and soap.
  • Wash and scrub using clean paper towels.
  • Rinse using CLEAN water
  • Pat dry with clean paper towel / let air dry completely
  • Store in clean and closed plastic bin.
REFRIDGERATOR / FREEZER

Consider filling the freezer by stacking one gallon zip-lock bags partially filled with water. This will help keep the freezer cold if power goes out, and will also give you extra water in case of emergency. Freeze individual water bottles to place in portable coolers and to drink when thawed.

BOILING WATER

Boiling is the safest method of treating water to kill microorganisms. In a large pot or kettle, bring water to a rolling boil for 1 full minute. Let the water cool before drinking. The taste of boiled, stored water will improve if you put oxygen back into it by pouring the water back and forth between two clean containers.

CHLORINATING WATER

When no other options are available, you can use household liquid bleach to kill microorganisms. Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 to 6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches, color safe bleaches, or bleaches with added cleaners. Use bleach from a newly opened or unopened bottle as the potency of bleach diminishes over time. It is not recommended to use chlorinated water for mixing infant formula, however it is still safer than preparing formula with untreated, contaminated water.

Add 16 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of bleach per gallon of water, stir, and let stand for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight bleach odor. If it doesn’t, then repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes. If it still does not smell of bleach, discard it and find another source of water. Other chemicals, such as iodine or water treatment products (sold in camping or surplus stores) that do not contain 5.25 to 6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite as the only active ingredient are not recommended and should not be used.

Additional Resources:

https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/recommendations/handling_breastmilk.htm
https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/pdf/hygiene/breast-pump-fact-sheet.pdf
https://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/f&web.pdf?fref=gc&dti=217577232092793
https://www.qld.gov.au/emergency/dealing-disasters/formula-emergency
http://www.fearlessformulafeeder.com/2011/11/formula-feeding-in-disaster-situations-is-there-a-dose-of-reality-in-your-emegency-kit/

Click below for a printable version of this article
Infant Feeding Guide in Emergency Situations

My Inability to Exclusively Breastfeed Was a Constant Destructive Force in My Life After My Son’s Birth- I Had a Suicide Plan

Written by: Allison Young

I had our second child last Monday. Since that evening, we’ve been supplementing with formula due to the fact that I have insufficient glandular tissue (IGT) and I am not physically able to exclusively breastfeed. Yesterday, our older son wanted to help feed his baby brother a bottle and, while he was helping, my husband took this picture of them that I loved. I made it my profile picture, and the fact that I felt comfortable posting a picture of my sons with a bottle really shows a sea change in my feelings about infant feeding. Because of that picture, I wanted to post my story about lactivism, which is extremist exclusive breastfeeding advocacy, and how it affected my postpartum mental health after my older son’s birth. It’s pretty long, but I hope my story illuminates how The Fed is Best Foundations provides important support for new mothers.

Prior to my Soren’s birth, I really drank the “breast is best” Kool-Aid. I was absolutely convinced that it was the only acceptable way to feed a baby, and that moms who didn’t breastfeed were lazy. At no point did anyone in my birthing or breastfeeding classes tell me that lactation failure was even a thing, and it wasn’t something I learned in nursing school either. I mean, looking back, as someone who has an autoimmune disorder and two long-term mental illnesses, I should have recognized that the breasts are able to fail just like any other part of the body, but it just didn’t cross my mind at all.

A couple of weeks before Soren was born, I went to a lactation consultant to be fitted for a nursing bra, and the lactation consultant asked if I’d had any changes in my breasts during the pregnancy. I had. So I said “yes” and she left it at that. Later, she would tell me that she recognized I had markers for IGT but that she didn’t want to scare me, so she withheld this important clinical information from me.

After Soren’s birth, it seemed like he was doing an okay job feeding, but he kept dropping weight. He was jaundiced, but not enough that treatment would be indicated. Even though his weight kept dropping and dropping, I was never offered any formula or safe, screened, and pasteurized breast milk to increase his weight. I only heard placations that weight loss was normal in a breastfed infant. His pediatrician almost didn’t discharge him on my last day at the hospital, but I begged her to let me take him home because I didn’t want to be separated from my baby.

On March 11, 2015, he was born at 9 lbs, 2 oz. By his five day appointment on March 16, 2015, he weighed 7 lbs, 14 oz. When his pediatrician did a weighted feed in the office, he didn’t consume enough over a 40 minute feeding for any milk in his belly to even register on the scale. My husband gave him a formula nursette in the office and he guzzled it so fiercely that he immediately vomited it back up. He was starving.

I was absolutely devastated. Despite my family 100% supporting me and reminding me that my husband and I were both exclusively formula fed, and my son’s pediatrician and my obstetrician holding strongly “fed is best” beliefs, the Facebook mom groups were strong in their vehemence against formula and they tainted my mind. I was convinced I was poisoning our child. These judgmental laypeople told me over and over again that my care team, which included two International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC), lied to me and that lactation failure is so incredibly rare that there was absolutely no chance that I had it. These women blamed me for my IGT even after my IBCLC/WHNP (Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner) told me that IGT was genetic and could not have been avoided.

I had people tell me directly that I should not be allowed to have children if I am not able to breastfeed exclusively or that my infant son should be taken from me for the same reason. I’ve seen other women told that if their children starve, it is natural selection and that babies should be allowed to die if their mothers can’t breastfeed them.

It wore me down. I became obsessed with trying just one more supplement, one more food, one more dose of domperidone—despite knowing the effects this medication could have on my heart. I had worked in drug development, and I knew that domperidone could affect my heart’s electrical cycle. At one point, I was taking ten different pills that promised increased milk production, not even bothering to check if any of them interacted with my other medications or were safe for my infant son. I was a woman possessed. I obtained huge amounts of unscreened donor milk, eschewed formula, and tracked my pump output at work better than I had ever tracked anything in my life.

By nine months postpartum, my anxiety was at absurd levels. Despite the fact that our son was thriving, it still hurt me deeply every time I fed him a bottle. When I was driving to work one day, I realized I had conceived a suicide plan and that horrified me. My inability to exclusively breastfeed had been a constant destructive force in my life since my son’s birth. My psychiatrist was able to help me greatly by changing my medications and providing the therapy I needed to pull me out of the darkness, but it still hurt.

It wasn’t until Jody Segrave-Daly, a co-founder of The Foundation, came into my life that I really truly began to heal from the cruelty I’d been subject to from other mothers. The creation of the Fed Is Best Foundation and their commitment to evidence-based practice and research highly appealed to me as a healthcare professional and combination feeding mom. They helped me recognize that feeding my child safely was all that mattered, and they gave me the strength to be as open with my feeding struggles as I’ve been about my struggles with mental illness.

The day that I scheduled the birth of my second son, Rune, I called the lactation department at my hospital and made it clear that we would be combination feeding and that I needed a lactation consultant to come immediately after birth to institute formula supplementation. The lactation consultant who answered the phone was incredibly supportive and sweet. Then, when Rune was born, the lactation consultant on call was the same one who had withheld knowledge about my IGT markers when my older son was born. She refused to bring a supplemental nursing system (SNS) for me as I’d requested. Thankfully, the baby nurse and my postpartum nurse were glorious. They both supported my supplementation, and immediately stocked me well with formula.

Yesterday, my husband took a picture of our sons that I loved. When I had Soren two and a half years ago, I absolutely refused any picture of me feeding him unless I was breastfeeding. There are no pictures of me feeding him formula because I was embarrassed. It made me feel like a bad mom. Yesterday, however, when Soren asked to feed his brother, I didn’t even hesitate as my husband took pictures of this sweet moment with my two precious boys. When I saw the picture my husband posted, I immediately made it my profile picture because it made my heart feel so full.

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There is nothing wrong with feeding my child. There is nothing wrong with formula. Women who feel superior are ableist, misogynist, and victim-blaming all at the same time. They are disrespectful and, frankly, they don’t care about moms or babies.

Don’t let these people get to you. Breastfeeding is not the be-all and end-all of motherhood. Your baby needs you more than breast milk (a fact that is lost in the world of lactivism). Nurturing doesn’t come from breast milk—it comes from you. Bonding doesn’t come from a breast—it comes from you.

Please take care of yourselves. Don’t fall down the hole like I did. Healing is possible—this picture shows that—but it’s better if you never feel that pain at all. We support you however you feed your baby and we feel that your mental health is absolutely paramount. You are not distilled down to a body part. You are a person with needs, and your choices should be respected.

Much love to all of you who have also been hurt by lactivism. Please know that you’re absolutely safe here.

The Fed Is Best Foundation has a private Facebook support group and we welcome all families: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SupportGroupScreeningFIBF/

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 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, 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.
  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, 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 of 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 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.
  8. 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.

Thank you so much from the Founders of the Fed is Best Foundation!

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Dear Doctors: Just One Bottle Would Have Let Landon See His First Day of Kindergarten

Written by Jillian Johnson

Dear Doctors,

My name is Jillian Johnson and I am speaking to you on behalf of The Fed Is Best Foundation. I am mother to Landon Johnson of Landon’s Legacy. Landon was my firstborn son who died because he was starving while exclusively breastfeeding.

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Today has been a very bittersweet day for me. My littlest babe turned two. And while we celebrated from the moment she awoke to the moment she laid her head down for the night, I couldn’t help but feel a bit sad. You see, today, my sweet Landon should have started his first day of Kindergarten. I should have been able to make him a special breakfast, pack his backpack, and walk him to his classroom for the first time. I should have been able to meet his teacher and new friends. Today, I should have packed his lunch and left a sweet note like, “You’re going to be amazing today!” But, I do not get to. As I made my daughter her birthday breakfast, my heart ached knowing we have an empty seat at the table that should be filled. As I baked her cake with her older sister, I knew there should be an extra set of hands helping me stir the batter and fight over who got to lick the spoon. I’ve always looked forward to being able to create the “my first day” sign for my children, and as I made Landon’s today, I couldn’t fill in the blanks. So I wrote this letter instead–requesting that medical professionals step up and help fight for change, and support the cause that would have saved my son’s life. Continue reading

I See Myself in Other Mother’s Eyes: A Neonatologist’s Fed is Best Story

by Dr. Jessica Madden, M.D.

My oldest daughter, Grace, was born when I was 28 years old. She was our long-awaited first child, the one who I had postponed having for many years so that I could get through a good chunk of my medical training before becoming a mom.  I felt like I was prepared as much as one could possibly be to take care of and breastfeed a newborn.  I had spent years babysitting my siblings and neighbors and had over two years of intense pediatric/neonatal training under my belt. I had read every single “What to Expect” type of book, joined multiple online breastfeeding forums to learn from experienced mothers beforehand, and took all of the prenatal classes at the hospital where I delivered. I knew that breastfeeding was going to be difficult and exhausting at times, and that it might take several weeks for my baby and me to get into a “groove” with it, but I was ready to dive in headfirst. Continue reading

Donor Breast Milk – Is It Worth It?

Written by : Hillary Kuzdeba, MPH

Many women in developed countries like the U.S. find that despite their best efforts, they are unable to exclusively breastfeed due to supply problems or other circumstances. They may feel pressured into finding some other way of ensuring their babies are exclusively breastfed, even though they cannot produce enough for baby. Adoptive parents may also feel pressure to provide breast milk. A lot of this pressure to provide breast milk comes from the over-exaggeration or misinterpretation of the benefits of breast milk on long term health outcomes, or from unfounded fears about infant formula.

Currently there are two types of donor breast milk available to moms in the US, but only one type that is supported and recommended by major medical bodies like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)(1, 2) and by the Fed is Best Foundation. Donor milk obtained from a milk bank or hospital is a safe and healthy alternative to mom’s own milk.(2) Milk banks thoroughly screen their donor moms to ensure the safety of the milk and pasteurize it following strict food safety protocols to destroy bacteria that can make infants very ill. Milk banks are similar to blood banks. These organizations are designed to make sure human body fluids, whether breast milk or blood products, are screened and safe before they are used by vulnerable people like newborns and sick patients. This is because human body fluids, including breast milk, can pass transmissible infections like HIV from person to person.(3-5) For more information on the milk bank process, please visit https://www.hmbana.org/. Continue reading

Dangers of Insufficient Breastfeeding Presented at the First Coast Neonatal Symposium

Dr. Christie del Castillo-Hegyi was invited to present her research on the brain- and life-threatening consequences of insufficient feeding of exclusively breastfed newborns at the First Coast Neonatal Symposium held by the Department of Neonatology at the University of Florida at Jacksonville on April 24, 2017.  Here is the video of the lecture presented.

Note: A segment of the lecture was excluded due to copyright laws and will be posted once permission is granted to publish it.

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I Supplemented My Starving Baby When My Hospital IBCLC’s, Doctor and WIC Counselor Told Me Not To

By Kristen, Fed is Best Mom and Advocate

My son was born weighing 7 lb 5 oz. Within his first week he lost 11% of his body weight. Babies at Risk; Loss of 10% Birth Weight  By week three we had been to approximately 7 weigh-ins and saw 3 lactation consultations. I had two lactation consultants texting me around the clock, day and night to ensure I was successful at breastfeeding. My lactation consultants were aware that I had a breast reduction several years ago that impacted my supply with my first baby. She lost a pound in her first week of life but at that hospital, the doctor had me supplement my baby immediately.  Babies At Risk; History of Breastfeeding Failure 

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 Babies At Risk Stanford Medicine Breast Surgery : Many women with breast reduction report they were not well informed about the risks of under-production, and therefore anticipate they will be able to exclusively breastfeed. They typically feel their milk “come in” and can easily express small volumes. Due to the disruption of the collecting system, it is the exceptional mother who can exclusively breastfeed. This may be a risk for any mother with peri-areolar incisions. Mothers should be encouraged and taught proactive measures to maximize production, and yet be provided realistic expectations, close follow-up and clear indications of inadequate milk intake.  

At his three week weigh in, he had actually started to LOSE weight and he was 7 ounces below his birth weight.

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