My Baby Was Starving- She Lost 17 Percent Of Her Body Weight While Exclusively Breastfeeding

My daughter was born after 14 hours of labor with no issues, in a baby friendly hospital, and with what all of the medical professionals assured me was a perfect latch. The nurses kept telling me she would fall asleep soon, that all newborns do, but she was up for 7 hours after birth, most of the hours latched onto me. By the next morning, my nipples were already raw. I had lanolin I had brought with me that I applied as much as I could, but my daughter was literally on my breast for 5 hour stretches. Everyone assured me that she was cluster feeding, that I was doing a great thing by breastfeeding her, and we were sent home with no concerns being expressed, despite her 10 percent weight loss that I was told was normal. (This is not normal)

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Cara continued to stay at my breast nonstop the next day and night. By day 4, she was finally stopping after 5 or so minutes and I assumed my milk must have come in. She also began to sleep much more, which I thought was because she was finally getting full.

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We had a weight check in later on that day with the lactation consultant. We found out she lost 17 % of her body weight. The LC told me I needed to get a pump, suggested a variety of measures to boost supply, and put me on a triple feeding schedule (breastfeed, give a bottle, pump and repeat). She said to not let her have any more than 20 ml of formula at a time or I would risk ruining my breastfeeding relationship. She also scheduled an appointment for me to come back the next day but never once told me that I should see my pediatrician for an urgent evaluation. 

We went and bought the pump immediately and followed the pumping/feeding schedule exactly. I got nothing out of the pump. Not even a single drop. There didn’t appear to be any colostrum and there definitely wasn’t milk. This is a picture of Cara shortly after she got what I believe was her first meal after being born (on day 4). I tear up every time I look at it because she passed out almost instantly and was peaceful, not lethargic like I realized she had been earlier.

I felt like the worst mother in the world for not realizing she had been starving.

HannahClair2

We went back to see the LC the next day for the scheduled appointment at the baby-friendly hospital. We were waiting outside her office and I heard her taking to someone on the phone who must have decided they were not going to breastfeed. The LC was clearly aggravated. She sighed multiple times during the conversation and once off the phone made a comment to her coworker about “some people” not being willing to try. I had been planning on discussing how exhausting it was to pump and get nothing, how miserable I was feeling about her having been starving, but those comments stopped and shamed me.

I remember looking around at all the signs once we were in her office while she grabbed and pushed my breasts/nipples into the position she wanted in my daughter’s mouth, reading the words about the importance of breastfeeding, and feeling so small.

My daughter was my 4th pregnancy and she was the only baby I had to show for it. My relationship with my body was already in poor shape and I felt like it was failing one of my babies yet again. We sat there for an hour and after she weighed her she said that it wasn’t registering she had taken anything in, but she was sure she had gotten something. She had said to stick to the 20 ml only of formula every two hours and keep doing what I was doing. So, I did. I left that office and had to sit down outside the hospital on a bench to cry. Everything hurt.

We had another appointment the next day with a different LC who confirmed my daughter had not gained anything in general, or after the weighted feed. She told me to start letting her have 2 ounces every two hours and “gave me permission” to skip one pumping session if I was feeling too overwhelmed, but reminded me that may be detrimental to our breastfeeding relationship.

On day 7 we had her one week check up and saw the NP at our pediatricians office. My daughter was still well below birth weight and she told us that we needed to immediately start giving her as much formula as she would take. She had us feed Cara in the office while she watched. She ate 4 ounces, promptly falling asleep. Our NP discussed the dangers of a baby not receiving enough breast milk or formula and gently told me that breastfeeding was not as important as feeding the baby. I still get emotional thinking about that conversation.

A real health professional finally gave me permission to do what felt right and, as a first time mom, I needed that.

I continued to do the breastfeed, bottle feed, pump routine for a month before I stopped. My milk didn’t come in until day 8 and I never got more than 2 ounces after an entire day of pumping. I was told I have markers for IGT based off the appearance of my breasts after continuing to try and find why I was struggling so much with supply.

When I got pregnant again, I chose to exclusively formula feed from the beginning because of my traumatic experience with my daughter. I refused to put myself or any of my children through that again. My son barely lost any weight and has been a dream baby. I have never had to worry he’s starving and I never have to hear the sound of a pump again (which genuinely is now the sound I hear whenever I think of failure).

HannahClair

My babies above are happy, healthy, beautiful, smart kids and they are FED. I am incredibly grateful I found the group fearless formula feeders, which led me to fed is best, so I could make the decision I already knew was best for us without any trace of regret. What fed is best is doing matters. It’s empowering. It will save the lives of mothers who feel overwhelmed and distraught with bodies that just don’t work perfectly, or empower mothers who simply don’t want to breastfeed with the correct information, so they can feel confident in their choice.

-Heather

HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT FED IS BEST ? JOIN US!

FIBparentingSupportGroup2

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

We believe all babies deserve to be protected from hunger and thirst every single day of their life and we believe that education on Safe Infant Feeding should be free. If you would like to make a donation to support the Fed is Best Foundation’s mission to teach every parent Safe Infant Feeding, please consider making a one-time or recurring donation to our organization.

Donate to Fed is Best

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

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My Baby Starved at Kaiser Permanente – I Was Told Her Stomach Size Was Only 5 mL

My name is Cynthia G., a first time mom at the age of 39 with our miracle baby who we never expected since we were told we had “unexplained” infertility. Our daughter Amelia was born in 2016 at Kaiser Permanente in Irvine, California. I didn’t have a birth plan nor was I one of those moms-to-be that had it all planned out and knew every detail about having a child or going into labor. But what I did know was that I intended to breastfeed our daughter.

We were very happy with Kaiser’s baby-friendly approach and their pride of being one of the hospitals with a very high breastfeeding rate. We were told from the beginning that bottles and pacifiers were not allowed in the hospital so that the newborns and mothers had a chance to breastfeed. Of course, this information was never a red flag, but instead I found it to be another step towards encouraging breastfeeding. We even took the breastfeeding class they offered, but again we thought we were in good hands with great experts and completely trusted them.

At around 10 a.m. my water broke. I had zero pain nor contractions so I didn’t even know if my water breaking was something I needed to get to the hospital for or just wait until I felt pain. My mom who was with me that morning was the one that pushed me to go to the hospital even though I hardly thought I was in labor. Once I arrived at the hospital they did some testing to verify that indeed my water had broken. When the results came back positive I was told I would need to stay and begin the process of induction. Unfortunately, I progressed very slowly even with Pitocin in my system. When I finally got to be fully dilated it was around 1 p.m. the following day and I pushed for almost 4 hours until my midwife let me know that our baby was stuck in the birth canal because it had already been over 16 hours with my water broken, I had started to get a fever, which is the first sign of infection and something very dangerous for both of us.  I was told we would need to have a c-section.

As soon as I was in recovery my breasts began to produce drops of colostrum and the nurses and the breastfeeding consultant came to my side to help me feed. My daughter was latching, but not the proper way, so they continued to come and help me post-op. At one point during my stay, a nurse came in to check on our baby’s blood sugar level, since she was born a big baby at almost 10 lbs, it was crucial for her sugar levels to be stable. The nurse told me to feed as much as possible. I continued to breastfed our daughter but something didn’t feel right. She didn’t seem like she was getting anything since she would get agitated while on my breast and wanted to suckle all of the time.

What science tells us is that mature breast milk averages around 20 calories per ounce (~30ml) and formula contains approximately 20 calories per ounce as well. Thus their per-milliliter (mL) calorie count is on average the same. Colostrum, a key substance that imparts passive maternal immunity to a newborn in the first few days of life if a mother breastfeeds, is lower in fat and carbohydrates than those two, and comes in around 17 calories per ounce (~30ml) (Guthrie 1989).

During the first night I remember our daughter screaming and wailing. I didn’t know what was wrong with her so the nurse came and asked if I had fed her and I said yes, so she suggested that I rock and cradle her. I remember my daughter screaming and I didn’t know what to do until another nurse came in and gave us some formula to give her, but she told me nurses at that hospital were not trained to formula feed and she told me to only give 5 ml. The signs in my room said the the baby’s stomach size was only a teaspoon, so I believed them.

#2 Why Fed is Best- Underfeeding and Brain Physiology

At this point, I really felt my postpartum depression kick in because I started to feel like I wasn’t a good mother. I began to question if breastfeeding was the right choice for me. The nurse who would come in to check our baby’s sugar level insisted that I breastfeed my baby as much as possible and to feed formula to stabilize her low blood sugar. At that point my husband and I agreed that we would formula feed exclusively because I felt in my gut that I was not producing enough milk and I was very worried about her sugar level. As instructed, we fed her 5 ml at each feeding. My daughter continued to cry through our 4 day stay at the hospital and it was a loud and shrilling cry.  It made me go further into despair to not understand why she was crying so much. At one point I remember begging the nurse for a pacifier and they insisted that I give her my breast instead because pacifiers were banned there. I honestly thought and told my husband that maybe our baby had colic and that’s why she was crying.

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We were discharged four days later with our first pediatrician appointment the following day. We were still giving our baby 5 ml and feeding on demand as instructed. We found our daughter to be very lethargic during the night and when she would wake, she would cry non-stop. On the day of our first pediatrician appointment, our doctor was immediately alarmed at the amount of weight she had lost. She asked us how much we were feeding her and her jaw dropped. She told us that our daughter did not have colic; there is no such thing as colic in newborn. The reason she was crying is because she was starving. To this day I will never forget that nor can I forgive myself for this. This whole time our daughter was crying was because she was hungry and we were not feeding her enough.  The doctor was also very concerned that she was very orange and so her bilirubin levels were checked. Our daughters jaundice levels were very high and the doctor told us to FEED, FEED, FEED to prevent hospitalization. She gave us the proper formula dosing and we did just what she asked. We fed our daughter every two hours and she perked up immediately! We did daily bilirubin checks and a week later her jaundice was gone and she had recovered her lost weight.

#1- Why Fed is Best for Newborn Jaundice.pptx (5)

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Words can never express the anger and disappointment I felt not only in myself but in the hospital, doctors, nurses and lactation consultants. In hindsight I felt like they were only interested in boosting their stats on breastfeeding, which is so completely unethical and negligent. A newborn child should be fed as adequately as possible and hospitals, doctors and nurses need to educated in infant feeding whether it’s formula or breast milk. I wish I would have educated myself with formula feeding so I wouldn’t have gone through what I did. I have made it my mission to educate new first-time moms about recognizing a hungry baby and supplementing their baby and I stress the importance of Fed Is Best. I know breast milk has great benefits, but babies can’t receive those benefits IF they are starved and harmed. My daughter is very healthy. She has never had an ear infection. She’s been on target with her growth charts and her cognitive skills are beyond her age. Every mother has a right to be taught the risks and benefits of breastfeeding and formula. This is what informed consent truly looks like.

Thank you for this organization – you guys are doing great work saving babies from harm!

— Cynthia G.


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

  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

We believe all babies deserve to be protected from hunger and thirst every single day of their life and we believe that education on Safe Infant Feeding should be free. If you would like to make a donation to support the Fed is Best Foundation’s mission to teach every parent Safe Infant Feeding, please consider making a one-time or recurring donation to our organization.

Donate to Fed is Best

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

 

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Letter to Doctors and Parents About the Dangers of Insufficient Exclusive Breastfeeding and the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative

(En español)

Dear Colleague and Parent:

My name is Christie del Castillo-Hegyi and I am an emergency physician, former NIH scientist, with a background in newborn brain injury research at Brown University, and mother to a 6-year-old child who is neurologically disabled. I am writing you because my child fell victim to newborn jaundice, hypoglycemia and severe dehydration due to insufficient milk intake from exclusive breastfeeding in the first days of life. As an expectant mom, I read all the guidelines on breastfeeding my first-born child. Unfortunately, following the guidelines and our pediatrician’s advice resulted in my child going 4 days with absolutely no milk intake requiring ICU care. He was subsequently diagnosed with multiple neuro-developmental disabilities.  Being a physician and scientist, I sought out peer-reviewed journals to explain why this happened. I found that there is ample evidence showing the links between neonatal jaundice, dehydration, hypoglycemia and developmental disabilities. I wish to explain to you how I believe this could apply to my son and the many children whose care you are entrusted with. Continue reading

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I Had All of The Support In The World And Breastfeeding Still Didn’t Work.

They tell you that if you prepare enough, it will work. They tell you that all you need is support, belief that you will be successful, and commitment. If only it were that simple.

I knew I might have issues. I had breast reduction surgery back in 2001, but had been told that using the right technique would preserve my ability to breastfeed. Nonetheless, I set out preparing to ensure I would be successful. Besides doing yoga, pilates, weight training, and exercise, I got into the midwife program and prepped diligently. I did prenatal workshops and tracked down a book on how to successfully be a breast feeding after reduction mom. I hired a private lactation consultant for a session ahead of time. We talked about teas and tinctures, techniques and diet to help my supply be optimal. We talked about how I could use a supplemental nursing system if necessary. I read extensively and was convinced breastfeeding was the only way to feed my son to ensure his well being and I would have no problem breastfeeding because I had SUPPORT.  

After lengthy pre-labour, labour finally started but my son was posterior and we stalled at 5cm dilated for over 10 hours. Finally, 33 hours after labour started, I delivered our son vaginally. I was exhausted after being awake for 3 days straight but determined to breastfeed. We seemed to struggle with latching and when he finally did, the pain took my breath away. I had already gone through 25 hours of labour before finally getting an epidural, but the pain during each feed was excruciating and only ended when he stopped feeding. Within a few hours I was concerned by the pain, and by my misshapen nipples that were already severely cracked and bleeding. I asked each nurse that I saw. All told me the latch was good and waved off my concerns about pain. My reading had told me to keep going but also mentioned it shouldn’t hurt this way. Worse yet, I often worried about how rarely he seemed satisfied with eating or would suckle to sleep. Yet we were released from hospital with instructions to be patient and told that breastfeeding would work out.

When I pressed about the bleeding, one nurse snapped at me: “What did you expect?”

My son barely urinated in the first few days, and by day 4 seemed more and more unsettled, finally crying 5 hours straight in the middle of the night. I was trying to let him feed as much as possible, but the pain persisted. The nipple shields a nurse gave me in the hospital helped my son to latch but the pain persisted with every feed, during the whole feed. My son still seemed always hungry and would stay latched on for over an hour if I left him. I’d try to persist feeding him, exhausted in bed, weeping at the pain and frustration.

CarlyCrying

After crying for 5 hours straight he fell asleep from exhaustion.

Our midwife team came for home visits every day. I dutifully showed our tracking charts of how long/often at each breast, his output and they would weigh him.He was quickly dropping weight so we tried to come up with a strategy. I kept up eating my oatmeal and good food like quinoa, as well as drinking lots of water. We bought a lactating tincture which I took religiously and by day 4 we both went for chiropractic and osteopathic care in case that would help. I got acupuncture. During this time, my wife contacted public health to have another lactation consultant come. I was doing all the right things, but my son was barely urinating and kept dropping weight. The lactation consultant ‘diagnosed’ a posterior tongue tie and lip tie which she believed was the cause of my pain and the state of my still bleeding nipples that would often be blanched white and misshapen after a feed. She thought temporary supplementation would be needed but was insistent no artificial nipples, so we had to tube feed him with SNS or by finger. I was told not to use a soother so he often fussed unless I let him latch onto the shield on my breast. I pleaded to get my son into specialist quickly and the frenectomy was performed at 7 days. Sadly, it did not help my pain. The Dr. who did procedure would tell me after procedure that she didn’t think tie was serious enough to warrant the frenectomy and that the real issue was an anatomically small jaw that would simply have to grow. 

By this point, my midwives were seriously concerned. My son had dropped over 11% of his body weight and still struggled to urinate. The minimal supplementation at breast was not adequate. Based on the recommendation of the LC, I pleaded for domperidone. Surely I had to get to exclusive breastfeeding. Formula was not the answer. My midwife explained I would need an EKG since it puts you at risk for heart arrhythmia. I have a family history of heart disease but I was still interested. (*Please note domperidone is banned in the US.)

At that point, my wife put her foot down. “We both need you alive. He needs you more than your breast milk.”

CarlyBSTS

Enjoying skin-to-skin time desperate to increase my milk supply.

From that point on, we stopped feeding with a tube and went to supplementation with a bottle. Our lactation consultant had cut off contact from me right after the frenectomy. Based on her comments, I was devastated to realize that she didn’t want to work with someone who used a bottle or a soother (something else the midwives insisted upon to give my poor nipples a chance to heal – my son wanted to be latched 24/7). 

All of this took place in the first 10 days of my son’s life. I persisted in trying to combo feed for 19 weeks. Any breastfeeding session still resulted in horrible pain with my nipples blanched white and misshapen. Worse was he hated latching without a shield and as he grew my supply never increased even with continued oatmeal, tincture, water, etc. I was really struggling to bond with him all those weeks later.

Even if I was the proverbial Queen of Sheba with an army of attendants and best medical care we would have still had all the problems. I still had low supply that was compounded by the chronic pain.  I look back and realize that I put us through a lot of heartache for no real benefit.

I finally weaned. My depression and anxiety lifted almost immediately and I bonded with the baby I had worked so hard to give the best start of life. I only wished I had listened to my midwife and not my lactation consultant, when she pleaded with me to understand that my son would thrive on formula. That I had done so much to make it work and it was ok. Sadly, I will never get back the time lost doing all of the unproven suggestions from my lactation consultant. Today, he thrives in daycare and I truly can’t tell which of his friends were breastfed, combo fed or formula fed. He is well adjusted, thriving and bonded to both of us. That is what really matters.

CarlyThriving

My precious son thriving on formula and love. 

HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT FED IS BEST ? JOIN US!

FIBparentingSupportGroup2

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

We believe all babies deserve to be protected from hunger and thirst every single day of their life and we believe that education on Safe Infant Feeding should be free. If you would like to make a donation to support the Fed is Best Foundation’s mission to teach every parent Safe Infant Feeding, please consider making a one-time or recurring donation to our organization.

Donate to Fed is Best

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

CoFoundersPic

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Breast Is Best Failed Me And It Failed My Starving Son

My son was born at 8:33 am on a Saturday, delivered vaginally at 36 weeks and 3 days gestation. He weighed 6 pounds 3 ounces, and was in the 51st percentile for his gestational age. He latched onto my breast within the first 15 minutes. It was painful for me, but my nurse said his latch was great and that he was eating well. I continued to put him to breast every 3 hours as I had been instructed. We were told that we could see a lactation consultant, but one never came to our room. I was not concerned, since we were told he had a great latch and was feeding well.

On Sunday morning, we found out that he had lost weight and that he was suffering from jaundice and would need phototherapy. The medical staff told us that weight loss was normal and that his bilirubin levels were “borderline,” so the photo-therapy was just a preventative measure. Throughout the day he alternated between lethargy and crying. He only voided a few times, and his urine was very dark. His latch was still very painful, but I kept bringing him to breast to nurse every 3 hours. He never seemed to calm down after nursing.

HUNGRY1111

When he became inconsolable on Sunday night, known as the ‘Second-Night-Syndrome’ a nurse instructed us to continue trying to give him a pacifier and that he would settle eventually. He began screaming at my breast and refused to latch. There were no lactation consultants available at the hospital on Sundays. Another nurse brought in a Lansinoh latch assist, although my nipples were not flat or inverted. She instructed me to use the latch assist to draw out drops of colostrum, which I then swept out of the bulb with my finger and fed to my son. I did this for several hours. There were blood blisters on both of my nipples and I had not slept since the Thursday night before. My son eventually fell asleep in the early hours of the morning.

When he was weighed around 8 am on Monday, he was 5lb 4oz. He had lost 15% of his body weight in 48 hoursNewborn weight loss calculator 

Continue reading

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The ‘Second Night Syndrome’ is Abnormal and This is Why

Written by Jody Segrave-Daly, RN, MS, IBCLC

As a NICU/nursery nurse and IBCLC who has worked with newborn babies her entire nursing career, I was mystified when I first heard the phrase “second night syndrome.” When I began to research where the phrase came from, it became clear that this phrase is not based on any scientific research, but rather based on a theory that describes behavior of exclusively breastfed newborns on their second day of life. I think it is a frightening phrase for new parents to hear, as the word “syndrome” is defined as a group of signs and symptoms that occur together and characterize a particular abnormality or condition. 

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The truth is, the “second night syndrome” is a theory that describes abnormal newborn behavior.

Babies can go into a very deep, recovery sleep period after the first 2 hours from birth. This period can range from 8-12 hours after birth and is often a time that babies may not wake up on their own to feed every 2-3 hours. Babies often need gentle encouragement from their parents to wake them up for feeding sessions. Some babies will nurse for 5 minutes or suckle on a bottle for 5 minutes or less and fall back asleep. It’s well known that babies are fasting during this time and if they have enough caloric reserves, they may tolerate this fasting period without complications. Nursery nurses are quite skilled with performing clinical assessments of babies to ensure they are stable. They are looking for signs of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels, jaundice and other abnormal clinical markers.  Ten percent of healthy, full-term exclusively breastfed newborns develop hypoglycemia in the first days of life and may require specialized care until they are stable.  All babies are transitioning from intrauterine to extra-uterine life and need skilled observation from the nurse while they are bonding with their parents in their room.

Yellow with Grayscale Photos Photographer General Media Kit (20)

Risk factors for delayed onset of full breast milk production

After babies begin to ‘wake-up’ from their deep recovery sleep period on their second day of life, they will begin to exhibit stronger hunger cues to nurse or bottle feed, every 2-3 hours and they become much more alert. This is a new opportunity for parents to bond because their babies become alert again, opening their eyes while gazing at their parent’s adoring faces. Some babies are a bit demanding during this time because they are very hungry. Newborn babies are very easy to console after their feeding by being held and snuggled. Every nursery nurse will tell you if a baby is not content after feeding, something is wrong. I suspect this is where the word “syndrome” came from, which describes abnormal infant behavior. Continue reading

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Dr. del Castillo-Hegyi Raises Awareness at the U.S. Task Force for Research Specific to Pregnant and Lactating Women at the NIH

Bethesda, MD—On February 26, 2018, Dr. Christie del Castillo-Hegyi, Co-Founder of the Fed is Best Foundation traveled to the NIH to raise awareness on the gaps in breastfeeding protocols, research and education that is leading to common and serious complications in exclusively breastfed newborns.

Continue reading

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My Baby Suffered And Almost Died–Why Are The Risks Of Exclusive Breastfeeding Not Taught To Mothers?

As a first-time mom I braced myself for the worst but when my water broke that morning, I was super calm.  At the hospital, I had some IV pain medications, but labor went really smoothly and quick. A little after my baby was born I decided to try and feed him, not really knowing what I was doing or supposed to do. The LC came and tried to help him to latch. He didn’t really want to latch, so she had me hand express some colostrum and spoon feed it to him. She warned me not to use a pump (Why I don’t know) and that the small drops I was expressing was enough for him. So, he had drops of colostrum all day.

The second night he was crying all night longI kept telling the nurses that I didn’t think he was getting anything from me, because he wanted to nurse non-stop and would cry as soon as he was off my breast. But, I was told his crying was normal. Looking at my feeding log I got maybe 2 hours of sleep.  I was exhausted and very concerned.

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We were discharged after 48 hrs and they watched him latch and nurse before leaving.  We were told he needed to come back the next morning because he was jaundiced and needed blood work done. We went back and learned his jaundice level was high and he needed admitted for photo-therapy. His blood work also showed his blood sugar was dangerously low and his other blood work that was not normal too. He lost an entire pound because I was not making any colostrum and he was starving! They started an IV as fast as they could to stabilize him. He kept crying so a nurse helped me feed him formula using an SNS system so help soothe him.

He had to be life flighted to a bigger town, with a higher skilled NICU to take care of him because he was so sick. I was already a mess with everything going on, but having my baby fly to a better NICU was terrifying.

#3 Making Sure Your Newborn is Fed.pptx (6)

#3 Making Sure Your Newborn is Fed.pptx (8)

 

Once there, he had a feeding tube placed. His jaundice went away very quickly from the IV fluids and feedings. We tried breastfeeding a few times, but it just stressed me and him out too much. I pumped, but grew increasingly frustrated and sad as each time the amount I got grew less and less. My baby stayed  in the NICU for over a week and during that time we found out his newborn screening came back positive for  MCADD (MCAD), A metabolic disorder. With MCADD, my baby cannot go too long without food because once  he runs out of glucose, he can’t break down fats for energy. This can lead to death quite quickly. I am haunted by his cries now after birth, knowing he was telling me he was so hungry and needed food, despite the nurses, lactation consultants telling me his cries were normal. If we had waited a few more hours to get back to the hospital for his blood work, he probably not be here with us today.

 

About one in every 15,000 babies in the United States is born with MCADD. MCADD happens more often in white people from Northern Europe and the United States. About 1 in every 70 Caucasians is a carrier for MCADD. One baby in every 10,000 born in England is diagnosed with MCADD by newborn screening; around 60 babies each year.

AnnaHbottle

We were discharged and he required to be on a schedule of eating every 3-4 hrs. Once he was a year old, the longest time he can fast for is 12 hours, and that will continue for his whole life. If he’s sick, throwing up or not eating, he has to go to the ER to get an IV to keep his sugar levels stable. He is now 10 months and super smart and adorable and loves eating.  I am pregnant again with his brother (who has a 25% chance of having MCADD as well). It just makes me so scared to think about other babies that could have metabolic disorders who are born in BFHI hospitals.  It puts them at much higher risk if they don’t receive enough colostrum  during the early days of life, because of their restrictive no supplementing policy. After all, my baby screamed for days and I was told making drops of colostrum was ALL he needed.   Who would’ve thought my husband and I would be carriers of this rare disorder and that our child would have it.

#3 Making Sure Your Newborn is Fed.pptx (14)

#3 Making Sure Your Newborn is Fed.pptx (15)

I do want to try breastfeeding again with his brother. Of course, I will be supplementing in the beginning and as needed. But I’ll ask many questions to help my journey when the due date gets closer. I’m looking forward to all the help and good educational information I’ll have this time from The Fed Is Best Foundation. The question I will always have is why are exclusive breastfeeding risks not taught to mothers? 

 

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Dear little man,

I am so sorry your first days were no fun. I wish I could think back on those days with fondness and happiness, and parts of it bring me those feelings, but I get sad and angry and feel incredibly guilty too. Now here we are on your first birthday and I know not one person could ever make me feel bad or wrong or less of a mother for giving you formula, because you have thrived and grown and it was the absolute best choice for us. Look at you now, my little man.  Love, Mommy~AnnaH55


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 for your advocacy!
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My Three Day Old Baby Went Limp And Turned Blue; She Was Starving And I Almost Lost Her

First of all, I had always seen your Facebook page and thought to myself “this could never happen to me” or “I wouldn’t be that naive.” But now, can I share my story?

I was induced at 39 weeks due to preeclampsia. Since my cervix was stubborn, however, I ended up with a c-section. My baby was born 7 lbs 11 oz on January 10, 2018.

 I was hooked up to magnesium to help with my blood pressure and was bedridden for 24 hours after the c-section. My hospital was a BFHI-certified hospital, and they bragged about their excellent lactation consultants (IBCLCs). That made me happy because I had always dreamed of breastfeeding. I never imagined how hard it would be.

I was recovering from major surgery and felt weak, overwhelmed and quickly became frustrated trying to take care of my baby and breastfeed her. I cried multiple times during my short stay. Why was this so hard? I constantly had to ask for breastfeeding help from the nurses and lactation consultants. By the end of the second day, though, I was proud I got my baby to breastfeed without help. She was constantly feeding, every hour on the dot. No one was concerned about her excessive breastfeeding at all. The nurses seemed pleased with her diapers counts.

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We were discharged from the hospital not even 48 hours after my c-section. The first night with my baby was unbearably tough. If she wasn’t breastfeeding, she was crying. This was not fussing. She cried and screamed and the only way she stopped crying was if she was on my breast.  My mom stayed by my side most of the night trying to help soothe her, but my baby only wanted to be on my breast. Continue reading

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Starvation Jaundice and Bilirubin-Induced Brain Injury in Breastfed Newborns

Lecture Delivered by Dr. Lawrence Gartner, Chief Medical Director of Baby-Friendly USA

We have uncovered a lecture provided to lactation consultants at a prominent breastfeeding conference given by Baby-Friendly USA Chief Medical Consultant, Dr. Lawrence Gartner, who discussed the risk of brain injury from starvation-related jaundice, called kernicterus, 90% of which occurs to breastfed babies who lose excessive weight, according to his lecture. Yet despite this training, no information on the risk of preventable brain injury from starvation-related jaundice in breastfed newborns exists in patient-directed breastfeeding literature published by breastfeeding advocacy groups other than our own.

 

 

 

 

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