For World Breastfeeding/Safe Infant Feeding Month, we are celebrating by interviewing real mothers and talking to them about their breastfeeding/infant feeding experiences. It is my great honor to share with you my interview with Steph Montgomery, writer, public health advocate and mother, who talked about her breastfeeding experiences. She talks abut how safe, respectful and transparent breastfeeding support and education on breastfeeding and supplementation made a difference in her breastfeeding experiences. She goes on to talk about how mothers are treated in health care settings and how the current paradigm that respects only exclusive breastfeeding as ideal harms moms and babies.
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 were enough for him. So, he had drops of colostrum all day.
The second night he was crying all night long. I 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.
The first weeks of our baby’s life are hazy, but I remember Meredith’s gasps of pain when she tried to nurse. I remember that the baby kept coming off the breast and crying and we had to get her back on. It was a constant struggle of trying to get the baby latched, having to break her latch because of the pain, then her falling asleep, unlatching, then waking up and crying. It was a seemingly endless cycle.
When we brought the baby home from the hospital, she was crying and we couldn’t get her to stop. I realized she was hungry and I gave her a bottle of formula. She drank down four ounces, stopped crying, and went to sleep. I felt relieved because I was able to make my baby happy and comfortable. I told Meredith that the baby drank 4 ounces of formula and she said that was impossible, because an infant’s stomach can only hold 5 ml, according to the nurse who taught our breastfeeding class. We both now know that is untrue.
The next day, we went to the lactation consultant at the hospital. She told us to supplement with formula, but to give no more than 5 ml at once with a syringe—no bottles. She said the baby’s stomach could only hold 5 ml (our baby was 4 days old) and we should feed her with a syringe to avoid nipple confusion. The baby sucked those 5 ml down so quickly, it was ridiculous. I knew that she needed more than 5 ml, but I didn’t feel qualified to disagree with the lactation consultant. Because she worked at the hospital, I assumed she was giving evidence-based advice. So we fed the baby 5 ml at a time with a syringe. When one syringe-full was insufficient to sate the baby, I often fed her multiple syringes at a time, even though I felt like it was wrong to do so. Continue reading
The act of giving doesn’t have to be physical to be meaningful. When I think of giving, I think of one support group that has given me more emotionally than I could ever imagine. It’s hard to describe how much they have given me. This is my story.
During my first pregnancy, I thought I had done everything right. I read all the books, ate the right foods, went to all of my doctor appointments, and exercised. I had always planned on breastfeeding and never gave a thought to another option. I studied up on the perfect latch, breast shields, nipple pads, and milk production. I was so excited to have that bonding experience that everyone talked about. The day he was born, that dream came crashing down.
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 and they failed you.
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 breastfeeding 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.
You gave me ten of the most incredible 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.
We love you to the moon and back,
Mommy, Daddy, and your sisters.
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:
- Join us in any of the Fed is Best volunteer and advocacy, groups. Click here to join our health care professionals group. We have FIBF Advocacy Group, Research Group, Volunteer Group, Editing Group, Social Media Group, Legal Group, Marketing Group, Perinatal Mental Health Advocacy Group, Private Infant Feeding Support Group, Global Advocacy Group, and Fundraising Group. Please send an email to Jody@fedisbest.org if you are interested in joining any of our volunteer groups.
- If you need infant feeding support, we have a private support group– Join us here.
- If you or your baby were harmed from complications of insufficient breastfeeding please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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.
- Sign our petition! Help us reach our policymakers, and drive change at a global level. Help us stand up for the lives of millions of infants who deserve a fighting chance. Sign the Fed is Best Petition at Change.org today, and share it with others.
- Share the stories and the message of the Fed is Best Foundation through word-of-mouth, by posting on your social media page and by sending our FREE infant feeding educational resources to expectant moms that you know. Share the Fed is Best campaign letter with everyone you know.
- Write a letter to your health providers and hospitals about the Fed is Best Foundation. Write to them about feeding complications your child may have experienced.
- Print out our letter to obstetric providers and mail them to your local obstetricians, midwives, family practitioners who provide obstetric care and hospitals.
- Write your local elected officials about what is happening to newborn babies in hospitals and ask for the legal protection of newborn babies from underfeeding and of mother’s rights to honest informed consent on the risks of insufficient feeding of breastfed babies.
- Send us your stories. Share with us your successes, your struggles and everything in between. Every story saves another child from experiencing the same and teaches another mom how to safely feed her baby. Every voice contributes to change.
- Send us messages of support. We work every single day to make infant feeding safe and supportive of every mother and child. Your messages of support keep us all going.
- Shop at Amazon Smile and Amazon donates to Fed Is Best Foundation.
Or simply send us a message to find out how you can help make a difference with new ideas!
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Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you!
Thank you so much from the Founders of the Fed is Best Foundation!