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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WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION REVISED BREASTFEEDING GUIDELINES PUT BABIES AT RISK DESPITE PLEAS FROM EXPERTS—INFORMING THE PUBLIC “NOT A TOP PRIORITY”

By the Senior Advisory Board of the Fed is Best Foundation

A key recommendation of the 1989 World Health Organization Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding which guides the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is: “give infants no food or drink other than breast-milk, unless medically indicated.” This has led to serious complications from accidental starvation of babies, including dehydration, hyperbilirubinemia (jaundice) and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) — known causes of infant brain injury and permanent disability. Last week, the WHO issued draft revised breastfeeding guidelines, failing to revise this recommendation. These guidelines define the standard of care for breastfeeding management in all healthcare facilities worldwide. Nearly 500 U.S. hospitals and birthing centers and thousands more worldwide that meet the criteria of the BFHI are certified as Baby-Friendly, adhering to the application of the WHO’s Ten Steps.

On Sept. 22, 2017, senior members of the Fed is Best Foundation, and guests including a neonatologist from a leading U.S. tertiary care hospital and a pediatric endocrinologist, Dr. Paul Thornton, M.D, from Cook Children’s Hospital Fort Worth, lead author of the Pediatric Endocrine Society’s newborn hypoglycemia guidelines, met via teleconference with top officials of the WHO Breastfeeding Program: Dr. Laurence Grummer-Strawn, Ph.D., Dr. Nigel Rollins, M.D. and Dr. Wilson Were, M.D. to express their concerns about the complications arising from the BFHI Ten Steps and to ask what, if any, monitoring, research, or public outreach the WHO has planned regarding the risks of accidental starvation of exclusively breastfed newborns. The Foundation members who attended were 1) Christie del Castillo-Hegyi, MD, Co-Founder, 2) Jody Segrave-Daly, RN, IBCLC, Co-Founder, 3) Julie Tibbets, JD, Partner at Alston & Bird, LLP, Pro-Bono Attorney for the Foundation, 4) Brian Symon, MD, Senior Advisor, and 5) Hillary Kuzdeba, MPH, former quality improvement program coordinator at a childrens hospital , managing infant feeding projects and Senior Advisor.

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Remembering Landon On World Pregnancy And Infant Loss Day: Just One Bottle

By: Jillian Johnson–

Dear Sweet Angel Landon,

I am so sorry you were failed by the unethical, exclusive breastfeeding protocol of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. Every health care professional that took care of you in the hospital was taught the same universal BFHI  breastfeeding education curriculum.  I now know the curriculum is outdated, unethical and is harming babies all over the world.  I promise you Landon, my sweet angel, I will never stop telling your story so that no other baby will suffer and die needlessly because of a dangerous public health policy.   I won’t shrink back , and will continue educating new mothers for all of the other babies who have also suffered because their families were silenced.

 

I still have many, many days of guilt and questions – what if I would’ve just given you a bottle of formula?   But I didn’t know.  I listened to everyone in the hospital who told me your non-stop crying was normal.   I still struggle daily, feeling as though I failed you.201705131867123_l

You gave me ten of the most incredibly life changing months. I’ve been humbled and challenged. My relationships have fallen apart; some have come back together. I’ve learned forgiveness, and the true meaning of “life is short.” I love hard – to a fault. But I couldn’t live with myself knowing your death was in vain.

 

Today your short life story will be remembered by more than just me.  And soon enough every mother will know your story, and will recognize that crying non-stop after breastfeeding indicates their baby is crying out for milk. Hopefully they will supplement their babies, despite being told not to.   Even if only one of the professional hospital staff had recognized the critical hunger cues of non-stop crying and helped us supplement, you would still be alive today. 

LandonCandle11

 We love you to the moon and back,

Mommy, Daddy and your sisters.

Copy of 10-Minute Manscaping (5)


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!

JodyMemeChristie-QuoteJillianMeme

 

LandonsMonkey

 

 

 

My Inability To Breastfeed Made Me Fear My Newborn And Her Hunger

I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from my daughter’s traumatic birth. She was born in September 2016 and I was diagnosed in December 2016. I undertook Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, a type of therapy designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories, which caused severe anxiety and panic.  The need to breastfeed was very triggering. The thought of not breastfeeding was very triggering — essentially, I felt like a horrible mom and I was struggling to feed my baby.

During my daughter’s birth, I lost forty percent of my blood. About twenty minutes after she was born, I went into shock and had to be revived. I have very limited memory of her birth or the hours after it.

Prior to my daughter’s birth, I got very sucked into “breassure”. I am a pediatric nurse practitioner and have patients who are formula fed. I also was exclusively formula fed, so I KNEW formula was safe and totally healthy for babies. But that part of my brain seemed to turn off. I HAD to breastfeed. I did not even want formula in my house before going into labor, as I had been told it would be “too tempting.” Even as I went into shock, I reminded my husband to feed our daughter with a finger or syringe rather than a bottle to avoid the infamous nipple confusion. It was not until about a month ago that he told me he fed her a bottle in the nursery, as he was afraid I would be upset.

After being revived, I did not even get to see my daughter until after I was stable and in the postpartum unit. I lost a lot of blood and I felt like HELL. I truly cannot explain it. I was so weak and so exhausted. Still, the nurse on the floor brought my daughter to me so I could feed her. She gave me NO instructions and did not acknowledge what my physical and emotional limits were, while attempting to breastfeed my newborn baby.  Still, I believed that I, and only I, could be the source of food for my child. I cannot explain how haunting and distressing that thought was. I desperately needed someone to care for me. My blood volume was low and very dilute. But still, I HAD to feed her. Otherwise, what kind of mother was I?

The Lactation Consultant gave me a nipple shield the next morning. It helped my daughter immensely. My daughter had to go to the NICU every few hours for an hour or more to get IV antibiotics for a very serious infection, which complicated breastfeeding. They gave me a pump to use during those times. I decided quickly that pumping was much more reassuring for my analytical and anxious mind. The only problem? I produced practically nothing. Fifteen minutes on both sides produced eight mL.  How in the world could this sustain the life of my precious child, especially in light of her enduring a thirty-four hour labor AND chorioamnionitis. I knew it wasn’t enough, and the thought of it brought me immediate panic attacks.

#2 Why Fed is Best- CaloriesColostrum(1)

 

I think, looking back, the worst part (and there were some TERRIBLE parts) was that when I saw my daughter, instead of love, I felt PANIC. I was terrified of how I was failing her.

There were many people in the hospital who were overly optimistic about my medical situation. My own doctor told me that “breastfeeding would be a breeze,” in spite of my severe anemia. Only the neonatologist was truly honest. She told me that I would need to pump and supplement for three to four weeks before my milk would truly come in, if it did at all.  In some ways, that honesty gave me the freedom I needed to feed my daughter in a way that worked for us both. It was still a wrenching decision though. Who endures what I did to do anything less than the best for their child?

Thankfully, my husband and parents were supportive. I got a few side glances from the postpartum nurses here and there for formula feeding, but I was so exhausted that I did not care.

I would like to pretend that I could let it rest at that, but since I truly believed that breast was BEST, I thought I was a terrible mom. For weeks and months, this went on. The thing is, I liked formula feeding.  It allowed my husband to do almost all the night feeds before I received a blood transfusion when my daughter was five days old. It allowed us to split the feeds evenly after that. It allowed him or family to care for our daughter easily when I spent hours getting iron infusions three times a week. She had no issues with formula and she loved her feeding time with bottles. But I felt so incredibly guilty for formula feeding! At one point, I even tried to relactate. It was totally unproductive. Through all of my pumping, I never produced more than fifty mL a day. Of course, I know now that a post-partum hemorrhage is a risk factor for inadequate breast milk supply.  I never had more than a mildly bloated feeling in my breasts, certainly nothing like how I have heard others describe engorgement.

Through it all, I think my biggest wish is that in pregnancy I was not so vulnerable to “breast is best.” The need to breastfeed and my inability to do so made me fear my newborn and her hunger. 

MelissaHemor


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!

My Baby Scream-Cried The Entire Second Night In The Hospital

My name is Amber and I am the mother of a charming, beautiful, and vivacious baby boy. I want to share with you a story: the story of my son’s birth and his first few months earthside. It is a multidimensional story full of love and heartbreak, but I think it’s important that other new mothers hear it. My hope is that if their experiences of early motherhood are not what they always dreamed of, they will know they are not alone.

I found out I was pregnant with my son in September of 2016. I was working in an emergency room as a nurse at that time and heading into my second-to-last semester of school to become a nurse practitioner. My husband and I had only been trying to conceive for a month. Because I have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and irregular periods, I figured getting pregnant would take longer, but there I was on September 1 with a positive test. We were ecstatic. Being a planner, I spent the majority of the next nine months thinking about and planning everything about my son’s birth. I consider myself a well-educated woman and medical professional, so it was no surprise that the heart of my plans included breastfeeding my son. I spent months researching the best pumps for when I had to go back to work, deciding on a storage-and-feeding set, and learning about ways to strengthen the breastfeeding bond. Formula never crossed my mind. After all, I was always told breast was best. Sure, I had some friends who gave some formula here or there, but I just knew I would be one of the ones who would exclusively breastfeed and pump for my son.

Aside from terrible reflux, my pregnancy was fairly uneventful until the end of the third trimester. At my thirty-five week appointment, my obstetrician pointed out that my blood pressure had been creeping up for a few weeks  She said she didn’t think it was anything serious, but she wanted me to complete a twenty-four hour urine total protein test just to be sure. On Monday, while I was at work, I received the call—my urine tested positive for protein, an indication that I had developed preeclampsia. I stopped working,  had to monitor my blood pressure daily, have ultrasounds every other day, and I was going to be induced at thirty-seven weeks. My world turned upside down. I had planned on a vaginal delivery, preferably without pain medication and with minimal intervention, so the idea of an induction was somewhat horrifying to me. However, I certainly understood the possible consequences of preeclampsia for mom and baby, and so I was completely in agreement with the plan to induce.

My husband and I went to the hospital at 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 23 to start the induction process. Twenty-one hours later, my son was born. My labor and delivery wasn’t exactly how I’d imagined it,  but I was nevertheless delighted to meet my son. He was six pounds and one ounce, nineteen inches long, and just beautiful. He latched fairly well with assistance while in the delivery room about twenty minutes after his birth, and then we headed over to the recovery side.

 During that time, we went through a number of difficulties. He was latching on almost HUNGRY3constantly from his first night forward, and he would only nurse for a few minutes before falling asleep. This happened again and again. I saw the lactation consultant  numerous times. She helped correct my latch, gave me a nipple shield to use on the left side to help my son latch to a flat nipple, and provided me with a hospital grade pump so I could dry pump before I nursed. She encouraged me to save any colostrum I collected and syringe feed it to him. I only ever collected a few drops at a time—the largest amount was three milliliters in a syringe.

 

The second night was horrible. He was up “scream crying” all night long, wanting to latch constantly to my chapped and peeling nipples, but would fall asleep again and the cycle would continue.

It was never suggested that his latch was very poor, nor that I had any supply issues. No one told me that hormonal imbalances common to PCOS could wreak havoc on milk production. I was simply told that whatever colostrum I was producing was enough. Thank God for the night nurse. During that second night, she checked on us at 2:00 a.m., and I was near tears from sheer exhaustion and frustration with his constant latching and then falling asleep. The nurse offered to take him to the nursery to weigh him and give him a bottle of formula. I was reluctant—after all, I had been told that formula would ruin his “virgin gut”—but at my husband’s urging, I relented. My son came back an hour or two later, sound asleep for the first time since the hours after his birth. She told me he had eaten an ounce and a half  because he was HUNGRY.

SecondNightSyndrome

His hearing was retested twice while in the hospital, and both times they had to abort the test because he was crying inconsolably. The LC kept telling me we were breastfeeding fine, but I had the nurse leave some formula anyway “just in case”. I probably fed him a maximum of five ounces of formula in the hospital. I continued trying to breastfeed him. The same behavior continued. We were told we could go home Wednesday morning. He now appeared suntanned and was down to five pounds, eight ounces—a nine percent loss in two days, but were discharged anyway.  We were told to bring him to the pediatrician for a first appointment and weight check within forty-eight hours.

#2 Why Fed is Best- Underfeeding standarfOfCare

At his weight check two days later, he was down to five pounds and seven ounces. During that time, he had continued to feed almost constantly and was nursing my nipples completely raw.  I was told to hand express and pump to encourage my milk to come in, but I only ever got drops of colostrum. My transitional milk didn’t come in for six days. When my son wasn’t sleeping, he was crying, or he was agitated, moving all over, sucking his wrists, trying to latch onto anything he could, and constantly rooting for a nipple.  He was “cluster feeding,” and I was told that was normal and to keep breastfeeding him every 2 hours.

Colostrum3

 

 

He had weight checks every few days for his first ten days. On the sixth day, the LC at the pediatrician’s office suggested doing a weighted feed to calm my nerves and to reassure me that he was getting enough. I was starting to get nervous at this point, and I’m sure they felt I was just a “first time mom worrier.”

He weighed less after nursing for forty-five minutes than he did when he started the session. The LC laughed and said she must have weighed him wrong and not to worry about it.

Meanwhile, I was doing everything I could to possibly increase supply. I pumped after every feeding. I power pumped. I drank gallons of water. I took fenugreek and goat’s rue, and I baked lactation cookies with brewer’s yeast and oats. Nothing made any difference.

By his tenth day of life, he was up all day and night constantly screaming and crying. My husband and I were in tears because we had no idea what was wrong with our baby. The pediatrician had not seemed anywhere near as concerned as we were, so I called her office that morning and insisted he had to be seen again that day. He was starting to seem lethargic to me, it was getting harder to rouse him to nurse, and I thought his fontanels appeared sunken. He was orange. He had not had enough wet diapers in days and was still passing red crystals in his urine. He had only two bowel movements that entire week. Something clearly wasn’t right with my son.

 She asked how often we were supplementing, and we told her it was only a few times a day because I was trying desperately to exclusively breastfeed him. She gently suggested it was time to start supplementing him with one or two ounces after every feeding. The pediatrician confirmed that he had gained some weight, but he was only five pounds, eleven ounces.  I was sad about having to use formula regularly, but we were at our wits end with his inconsolable crying, and we decided to follow her advice.

Feeding my son formula had an immediate positive effect on him. His desperate hunger cries eased. He began to open his eyes and look around more often. He stopped looking so sunken. He began having wet and dirty diapers. He started to come to life in a way I hadn’t seen before.

AmberThriving

I’d like to say that everything got much better, and everything was wonderful from then on, but that would be a lie. My son had a hard time with the standard formula, so we switched to a sensitive variety. He seemed to do well with that for a few days, until he started having severe gas pains and green mucousy bowel movements. He ended up on hypoallergenic formula, and I cut dairy and soy out of my diet so I could continue giving him whatever milk I made.

I was still convinced I’d get my supply up enough to not need formula eventually. I started pumping more frequently and giving him pumped milk because he still fell asleep at the breast constantly and never seemed to latch right.  He developed significant issues with reflux and eventually ended up on two medications for it. The dairy and soy free diet wasn’t enough and, after thirteen weeks, we switched him to exclusive formula feeding because he seemed to do better on the formula than breast milk.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the last of our troubles. He developed colic and despite being well fed, gaining weight, and being happy and comfortable during the day, he would scream inconsolably for hours (usually from six to ten or eleven o’clock) every night. I convinced myself that his colic and reflux were my fault—if I could just have given him breast milk, he wouldn’t have needed formula and none of this would have happened. I felt like a failure as a woman and a mom. I also felt absolutely terrible because I am a medical professional, and I felt I should have been able to recognize the signs of starvation. I had starved my son. At times I’d look at him and feel terrible for the experience he must have had in his early days, the hunger he must have felt. It destroyed me. I began to resent my son and also turn my anger inward. My husband, meanwhile, had been home with me for our baby’s first two months, and he was drowning in anxiety about our son’s feeding, sleeping, and colic. We were both emotional wrecks.

The colic ended around ten weeks. I continued to pump and store milk until about sixteen weeks. At that point, my depression was so bad that I couldn’t think straight at work, felt like I was moving in slow motion through fog, and was exhausted all day despite the fact that our son had started to sleep much better at night. When I finally reached out for help,I was officially diagnosed with severe postpartum depression (PPD), and I started on medication.FormulaStudy

Here I am, a month and a half after starting treatment for PPD, and I feel like I have enough clarity to finally look back on the first few months of my son’s life. We both had a very rough start. I am certain that my feeding difficulties and feeling like a failure of a mom contributed in a huge way to the development of PPD. However, hindsight is 20/20 and while I was so against formula at the start I am so glad in retrospect that our pediatrician made us supplement. Our son is thriving. He is now more than fifteen pounds, happy, alert, playful, and thriving. I can now see that even though things didn’t work out the way I’d wanted them to, he loves me. I am finally able to enjoy him now that I am no longer a slave to the pump, producing only about one-third to one-half of what he needed every day. I think about our situation sometimes and realize that if it wasn’t for formula, my son could easily have suffered a significant brain injury or died.  That’s the reality of it, and that’s the bottom line. For whatever reason, I couldn’t make enough milk. I’m not a bad person or a bad mom because of it. My son and I are both very grateful for those along the way who finally made us realize the most important truth of all is: Fed is Best.

Amber4

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 Found A Way To Not Only Give My Son Breast Milk, But Also Bond With Him While Feeding Him.

Before my first son was actually born, I had all these goals and plans and expectations. Things rarely happen just as we want them to or plan for them, especially when children are involved.

I intended to breastfeed. Or rather, I intended to breastfeed via direct nursing. That was my plan all along. I never even researched other feeding methods. Everyone said it was going to be beautiful and natural. It was neither for us. 

From the beginning, it did not come naturally for us. And it HURT. I thought for sure once we got home we would settle into that elusive beautiful nursing relationship that everyone talks about. I was wrong. It felt like his gums were sharp and grinding against my nipple with every pull. We saw his doctor, and another doctor at the practice, and a few lactation consultants. Everyone said his latch appeared fine. Every time I fed him, I inwardly cringed. We used a nipple shield. We used different positions. We latched and unlatched. It never came naturally or stopped hurting.

It was never beautiful. I don’t recall a single moment of looking into his eyes while feeding him and feeling that “bond” that breastfeeding advocates claim comes only with direct nursing.

By six weeks I was ready to stop. I couldn’t do it anymore. I turned to exclusive pumping, and through pumping, I found a way to not only give my son breast milk, but also BOND with him while feeding him. This became OUR version of beautiful and natural.

I ended up pumping for both of my boys, because pumping worked for me. I was told, “you will never make enough to provide exclusive breast milk by using a machine”, or, “your baby removes the milk better than a pump. You will quickly dry up!”

These were only more false tales filling my head. They were wrong.

AmandaB22

 

Here are some tips that helped me get through exclusive pumping: 

In the beginning, I just tried to pump as many times a day as my son ate. Some exclusive pumping mamas stick to a strict schedule. For me, watching the clock caused more stress. Evidence is emerging that exclusive pumping mamas may be okay pumping only 7 times per day. When I started, I was told 8-10 pumps per day. I was never able to manage 10 times a day and get adequate sleep. Sleep is so very important for supply! In the middle of the night, my husband would wake up with me to tend to the baby while I pumped, or I would pump while feeding him. It took time to learn to how to burp and lay the baby back down while pumping (and trying not to spill milk by bending over too much), but, with time, it became our “normal”.

I always made sure I pumped until I was empty. It takes practice to get used to what “empty” feels like. I also made sure I got at least two let-downs. Once milk stops flowing, I change the pump settings back to the “let-down” or the “massage” mode depending on the pump. If my second let-down doesn’t come within a few minutes, I turn off the pump for a few minutes, then turn it back on in “let-down mode”, which encourages the let-down.

 

Massage. Massage. Massage. This made exclusive pumping possible. If I did not massage, then it would take double the time to empty my breasts.  I made a hands-free pumping bra. This made it easier to tend to my kids and also massage. Massaging downwards towards the flange also helps me become quickly aware of any clogs. Sometimes, I would use moist heat on my breasts just before I started pumping, but this didn’t make as much of a difference as massaging does.

I “pumped on the go” a TON. I got a nursing cover and a Spectra S1, because it has an internal battery. I would hook up to my pump in my car after getting the boys in their seats, turn on car and go. I would unhook once we arrived at our destination. For me, being able to pump on the way to or from our outings kept me from feeling like I was stuck at home pumping.

I often found myself stressing over how much milk was in the bottle and if I would have enough. If I let myself become stressed, it made things much worse for me, and it would take me much longer to empty my breasts. I went into my second exclusive pumping journey with no goals. No expectations. I knew feeding him was best and if I needed to supplement, then I would, and he would be completely fine. I would also use my nursing cover to pump at home quite often. I massaged under the cover and I would only peek in to see if milk was still flowing or not, but I would avoid looking at the ounces in the bottle.

It takes time and trial and error, but eventually, you figure out what works best for you and your family.  Exclusively pumping is a perfectly adequate feeding choice for your child, albeit one that does have a few extra steps (and parts to wash), but one that works for many families, because #FedIsBest.

amandaB44


Resources for pumping: Power PumpingHow to keep your breast pump parts properly cleaned

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 Am Celebrating 20 Months Of Combo-Feeding- Despite All Of The Lies Taught By My Hospital LC

Today, after 20 months of combination feeding, I gave my son his last bottle of milkies. I wasn’t able to keep my supply up after I stopped pumping at work. But I feel so proud of myself. 20 months of combo feeding. I made it 20 months!

When my son was born, I expressed concern about possible nursing problems because of my history of hormonal issues—but I was repeatedly dismissed. He lost 10% of his weight in the hospital. I was told that supplementing would basically end my breastfeeding relationship. That it would hurt my supply. I was instructed not to pump. I was told about tiny infant stomach sizes and that the constant crying and nursing was normal. I was told not to worry about insufficient feeding until day five. Well, by day five my son had lost 13% of his weight. That’s when we brought him back to the hospital.

LindseyB1

 

After a weighted feed, we found that my milk hadn’t come in and that I was barely producing any colostrum. My son’s gums and tongue were dry. The nurse admitted he was a day away from hospitalization. She was one of the nurses I called in a panic after we got home. She taught the breastfeeding class and parenting class I attended before my son was born. She visited our room at the hospital several times after the birth. And she simply believed the lie that under supply is rare and that tummy size are tiny. I found out recently that the hospital is still teaching this. That same nurse who, after finally acknowledging my son’s drastic weight loss and recognizing that I actually did have supply issues, developed a triple feeding plan for us. It wasn’t until ten days after my son was born that my milk finally came in.

I was devastated to find out that I couldn’t exclusively breastfeed my son. And I was angry that my risk factors for low supply were ignored. Angry that despite my son’s obvious distress and significant weight loss, my concerns were dismissed. Angry that I was instructed that just one bottle would ruin any chance I had at breastfeeding.

I am now proud that I made it 20 months. 20 long months of combo feeding a child with dairy and soy allergies—despite being told my odds of doing so were pretty much impossible. I shouldn’t be the exception. Women are often told that long-term combination feeding just isn’t possible. It is possible for many of us, but not all of us. I know too many women who—like the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine is finally acknowledging—believe that one bottle means “the horse is out of the barn” and that they might as well stop breastfeeding. It doesn’t need to be this way.

Sometimes I am asked, “If you truly believe formula is equal to breast milk, then why did you keep nursing despite your struggles?” To that I say, it’s what I wanted to do; it’s something I love doing. And that is good enough. I don’t need everyone to be exactly like me and to find meaning in what I love. I don’t need to feel superior. I don’t need to justify why I continued to nurse by denigrating someone else’s decision or inability to not do the same. One does not cheapen the other. Fed is best!

 


To learn how to prevent newborn feeding complications, please go to the following:

  • Resources for Parents – information on how to supplement while maintaining the breastfeeding relationship and how to closely monitor infants for underfeeding
  • Feeding Plan – a way to communicate your feeding preferences to your health providers
  • Weighing Protocol – a way to monitor your baby’s growth and prevent dehydration

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!

 

The Medical Professionals At The University Of North Carolina Allowed My Baby To Starve

I wish I had done more research about hospital exclusive breastfeeding policies before my son was born. I’m a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, but my maternity and pediatric experience was limited to nursing school. I was always on the fence about breastfeeding—I said that it was my goal but that we would see, so I hadn’t bought in to the narrative of “Breast is Best”. Still, I expected the medical professionals at the hospital where my son was born to tell me if they thought my baby was starving while attempting to exclusively breastfeed.

I delivered at the University of North Carolina Hospital, a top medical center. I felt reassured that I was in great hands. They were called “baby friendly” after all. I didn’t look into what that meant, and I thought I was well prepared. I was induced after being diagnosed with preeclampsia, but, thankfully, it was caught very early. I was two days shy of forty weeks. I had a long labor, followed by a C-section due to my son’s position. I’m also thirty-five years old, so by all accounts, I was high risk. It also meant I was at risk for late or low breast milk supply.

First, my husband and I were laughed at when we said we planned to use the nursery. Thank God for my husband—he did the baby care and brought our son to me while I was bedridden so that I could breastfeed. I was told the latch was great. I felt confident things were going well. But my son was inconsolable by the time he was forty-eight hours old.

My baby nursed a lot. I was told everything was normal and he was “cluster feeding”. Later, as my training came back to me, I never remembered cluster feeding being a thing. During my training, babies were supplemented when mothers didn’t have enough colostrum babies were supplemented and were taken to the nursery if a parent requested. I went to Duke University, and I rotated through WakeMed. These are excellent hospital systems.ClusterFeeding (1)

I was concerned about my baby’s very dry lips, and I was told not to worry. I asked about the few wet diapers that my son produced. Dismissed. I trusted that the medical professionals had my and my baby’s best interests at heart. I asked if maybe my milk hadn’t come in, and I was told all is well. We went home on the evening of the third day after birth, and my baby was looking jaundiced. He cried a lot, but nursing helped soothe him from crying–sometimes.

HUNGRY3

We saw the pediatrician the next day, and I found out my son had lost twelve percent of his weight since birth. We did a weighted feed in the doctor’s office, and his weight before and after nursing were exactly the same. My pediatrician, my husband, and I had a conversation about giving the baby formula. My husband and I had already decided we were going to supplement with formula before we saw the pediatrician, and our son’s weight loss confirmed that we were right to do so. We did not hesitate, and he had his first bottle minutes after we got home. He sucked it down, and he was finally calm and content for the first time in days. I tried to pump and barely got anything. My milk eventually came in, but we continue to supplement. His weight rebounded, and he gained well, but I was beside myself knowing that my baby had starved. It shouldn’t have come to that.

I am upset that the nurses (most of whom were fairly new) don’t know the difference between true cluster feeding and starvation. I am livid that no one even suggested formula.

I was angry that I didn’t put the symptoms together due to sheer exhaustion, and I placed my trust in the medical professionals without questioning their reasoning.. I am livid that no one even suggested formula, and I am heartbroken that I didn’t think to ask. I just kept saying, “I don’t think my milk is in.” I can’t believe it is up to the mother to specifically request formula. I was post-op and exhausted—I could not string a coherent thought together. And to think a bottle would have made such a big difference. It took me a little while before I was able to stop crying at the thought that my baby had suffered. I am so very thankful that we didn’t allow this to continue, and that he is thriving now at two months old.

The pediatric nurse practitioner instructed me at my discharge from the hospital not to pump because it would interfere with breastfeeding. It occurred to me later that her answer betrayed the “Breast is Best” cause. If breast milk is truly the best nutrition for a baby, it shouldn’t matter what container it comes in, whether it be from my breast or via a bottle. This makes me think the breastfeeding establishment is more concerned with direct, exclusive breastfeeding and the public breastfeeding crusade, than they are with providing nutrition for a baby.

If or when I have another baby, I will be well prepared to advocate for my baby and myself, and I will not blindly trust the medical professionals—a sad realization for me because I am one. I will also bring formula to the hospital in my overnight bag. My babies will not go hungry.

Kathryn


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 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 a 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 OB-GYN 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!