My Daughter Starved Because of My Determination to Exclusively Breastfeed and Lack of Knowledge on How to Supplement

By Jamie Nguyen

As new parents, my husband and I relied on professionals: doctors, nurses, lactation consultants to guide us in providing the best care for our newborn. But what happens if most of these professional have bought into a dangerous lie? The lie that all moms, except in very rare cases, are able to produce enough milk for a newborn baby.

After a long unmedicated labor that lasted over 36 hours, my daughter Noemie was born on November 2nd 2016. She was perfectly healthy and weighed 7 lbs 3.5 ozs. My goal was to exclusively breastfeed and the staff at the Baby-Friendly hospital were very supportive. Noemie lost 4% of her weight in the first 24 hours and we were told that it wouldn’t be anything to worry about until it got to more than 7%. However, she had become very fussy and inconsolable, but as we were new parents we just assumed that this was normal baby behavior. Having taken a breastfeeding class, I simply trusted that my body would make enough milk for her. I had been told that not being able to make enough milk was very rare. I asked to see a lactation consultant as I had previously had breast surgery to remove a benign lump from my right breast. The lactation consultant told me that I should have no problem breastfeeding from just my left side. She reassured me that my milk would “come in” sometime over the weekend at day 4 – 5. We were told to get a weight check at the pediatrician’s office on day 4.

Born healthy at 7lbs 3.5 ozs.

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Jillian Johnson and The Fed is Best Foundation Interview on the Doctors Show

By The Doctors Staff on 12:00 AM PT, May 9, 2017

I May Never Forgive The Hospital For Starving My Baby While Under Their Care!

On Easter morning, I gave birth to a perfect 7 lb 15 oz little girl named Coraline Quinn. Cora started life as the world’s happiest little baby. She almost never cried and just wanted to snuggle more than anything in the world.

However, our first visit with one of the lactation consultants immediately had me scratching my head. The lactation consultant reassured me that nobody would attempt to “sabotage my breastfeeding” in their facility, unlike others. Then they helped me get her to latch, said that we were doing great and that she was getting enough to eat. 24 hours later, she was a fussy mess that was inconsolable unless she was being held. We fed a ton, but she’d get frustrated and break the latch to cry every 3-4 swallows. Lactation was consulted again, and they reassured me that everything was fine and that these were standard findings for the second day and I continued feeding as instructed. Continue reading

I No Longer Judge Other Mothers; My Breastfeeding Challenges Have Absolutely Changed Me As a Mom, a Woman, And a Friend

As a nurse, I knew I wanted to breastfeed my baby. I learned everything I could about breastfeeding and I just knew that it would work for us. In nursing school, we were told that anyone could breastfeed that wanted to and I believed it. I would not even consider the possibility of feeding my children in any way other than nursing and was extremely judgmental of anyone who did not breastfeed their children. I honestly thought they were lazy and selfish and weren’t willing to put in the work.  I lived by the mantra that “breast is best!” My son was born and I was so excited to meet him and begin our breastfeeding journey.  Unfortunately, we struggled from the very beginning.  It was very difficult to get him to latch and when he did, he wouldn’t stay on very long.  Eventually, our son became difficult to wake up but the nurses responded to our frustrations saying, “he must not be hungry!” By discharge I didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing. I bravely went home, just knowing that it was okay, this was normal. We would figure it out because “breast is best.”

Dehydration2My husband and I cried a lot the first 24 hours home. We fought to wake our sleepy newborn up but we were rarely successful and when we were, we couldn’t get him to eat. I kept on, refusing to allow my husband to give our son any formula because I didn’t want it to ruin our breastfeeding relationship. We went to his newborn appointment when he was 4 days old. I knew at that point things weren’t going well but wasn’t prepared for the realities we were about to face. Our son had lost 13% of his body weight, he was hypothermic with a body temperature of 94.9, he was hypoglycemic, and had lost his reflexes. Our pediatrician looked at us with very sad eyes and kindly, but firmly, explained our son was very sick and needed to eat now. Continue reading

I Was Having Suicidal Thoughts Because I Was Shamed For Not Making Enough Breast Milk For My Baby

I gave birth in a hospital in Tel Aviv,  Israel.  I struggled with breastfeeding from the  moment I gave birth but the lactation consultant told me ‘it’s okay, your milk will come in a few days.  I went home and continued to breastfed all of the time, waiting for my milk to come in.

#3 Making Sure Your Newborn is Fed.pptx (5)

After days and nights, 18-20 hours on the couch breastfeeding, I called a lactation consultant. She assured me that I have milk and all was great; this is just how it is and breastfeeding is hard work. She was really nice and positive about my milk supply and didn’t push me to exclusively breastfeed, but the moms I talked with did.  I joined breastfeeding clubs, I read blogs and stories of moms who breastfeed their 2-3 year old children without a problem.  I became more and more tired, I cried all the time and I stopped taking showers daily. I couldn’t look at my baby, I had constant pain and he cried all the time. I slept a maximum of 30 minutes each day.  I felt like my body and my life was taken from me. Continue reading

My Baby Had Been Slowly Starving – The Guidelines For Exclusive Breastfeeding Were Wrong

Written By :  Hillary Kuzdeba, MPH

Before I had my first baby, I was like so many other health professionals – I believed that breast was best, and that every mother should be encouraged to strive for exclusivity, as recommended by the major medical organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization. I prepared diligently for breastfeeding, speaking to lactation consultant co-workers, watching documentaries, reviewing breastfeeding educational resources, and talking with the breastfeeding mothers I knew. My husband and family were all extremely supportive of breastfeeding, because they too knew breast was best. I knew that breastfeeding could be challenging, but I was prepared to make it work. And everyone assured me that it would, as long as I was dedicated.

My daughter was born at 37 weeks, 2 days after a difficult unmedicated labor, and vaginal delivery. She was a tiny little thing, just over 6lbs but she was strong and healthy. She was born with moderate cranial bruising from the almost six hours of pushing it took to get her out. She was immediately put skin to skin, and we had our first nursing session within 20 minutes of her arrival.

Due to her early term status and her bruise, we were told she was at risk for jaundice. (hyperbilirubinemia) While they told us that they would be watching her bilirubin levels closely, and were encouraged to attend the hospital’s breastfeeding class, we were allowed and encouraged to continue with our original plan of exclusive nursing. Despite my high level of breastfeeding education, I had never learned about this condition, and I didn’t know that it can be greatly exacerbated or triggered by dehydration. I had never been educated on starvation related complications, and only knew that occasionally some babies lost too much weight due to milk supply problems. I had heard of jaundice, but everything I had read indicated that it was “common” in breastfed babies and nothing to worry about in most cases. Regardless, my great care team didn’t seem to be concerned enough to recommend a change in feeding plan, so we just continued with our original plans as if she was like any other baby. Continue reading

My Son Was Exclusively Breastfed and Was Admitted with Hypernatremia and Jaundice the Next Day After Discharge

By Brooke Orosz, Ph.D. Professor of Statistics and Math, Fed is Best Advisor

My son was born 2 years ago today. In my seventh month, he was diagnosed with a condition called intrauterine growth restriction, basically his placenta wasn’t working right, and he was growing too slowly as a result. To prevent complications, he was delivered by c-section at 37 weeks. He weighed just 4 pounds 15 ounces and appeared to have no baby fat at all, but he was vigorously healthy, and was able to spend his hospital stay with us rather than in NICU. We were absolutely over the moon.20

At 48 hours old, his bilirubin was just over 10. Shortly before his discharge at about 80 hours old, a staff member weighed him and discovered that he had already lost 11% of his body weight, but they did not tell us this. Despite several risk factors, no one suggested an additional bilirubin measurement before going home or counseled us on the risks of severe jaundice. We left the hospital with the impression that everything was going perfectly.

The next morning, we went to the pediatrician, who sent to the hospital for another bilirubin check. An hour later, he called us and told us to drive our son to the regional NICU. At readmission, he had lost 14% of his body weight, his sodium level was 159, and his bilirubin was over 19. He had to stay in the hospital overnight, and we had to leave him behind.

 

My Son in the NICU Admitted for Hypernatremic Dehydration and Jaundice

I cannot praise enough the NICU staff, a doctor, several nurses, a social worker and an LC. They acted swiftly and effectively to save my son’s life, preserve his brain function and restore his health, and treated his father and I with extraordinary compassion on the worst day of our lives. I wish I remembered their names so I could name them, instead I will merely thank the NICU staff of St. Barnabas Hospital.

The hospital where he was born was Clara Maas. I cannot name one single staff member who was clearly negligent, I think it was more a case of him slipping through the cracks. The on-staff LC never checked on us after the first day, and I still don’t know exactly who knew what, when or who made which decision. Nevertheless, they allowed an at-risk newborn (37 weeks and Small-for-Gestational-Age) to go home without double-checking that he was safe or providing any special instructions for his care. Personally, I would not deliver another baby there.

Details of the incident have been reported to Clara Maas hospital in a formal complaint, and to the Joint Commission.

My Son at 2 years of Age

 

Brooke Orosz, PhD is a professor of mathematics and advisor to the Fed is Best Foundation. After her son’s crisis, she was stunned to learn that readmissions for nursing problems are commonplace, and that they are not tracked or penalized by health authorities. Since then, she has used her knowledge of statistics to study the problem and to advocate for evidence-based feeding protocols that put the baby’s safety and comfort first.

What Should Be The Norm For All: I Was Supported in Supplementing My Twins With Formula

by Kimberly Cartwright

My story is unremarkable but important to tell, because we are often led to believe that it should be remarkably rare.

In 2013 I had my first child, a son.  I researched and knew I wanted to breastfeed him, as breast milk is the recommended food for babies.  There are so many benefits to baby and mother if you nurse, so of course I wanted to try it out.   I have to admit that was a big push to learn all about it and make it work; and we did make breastfeeding work for fourteen months.  Then in 2016 I had my second and third children, my twin daughters.  I knew I wanted to breastfeed again.  The cost benefit for me personally was huge, especially for two babies.  But nursing two babies at once–that’s a lot!  There are a lot of reasons breastfeeding doesn’t work, and you double those when there are two babies.  I was determined to do my best though.

My girls were born at 36 and a half weeks.  Early by the forty week schedule, but basically on time for twins.  (Full term for twins is considered 37 weeks.)  They were right on target for identicals.  I was worried they wouldn’t be able to latch or just wouldn’t nurse well.  Imagine my relief when shortly after both girls were born, they both latched right on and were nursing away.  They knew what to do and we didn’t have any problems.  The only issue was with their blood sugar.  They were still a bit early and of course small.  As per the protocol of the hospital I was at, the girls had to have their blood sugar checked with every feed.  They did pretty well, but their numbers weren’t as high as the doctors and nurses would have liked.  The nurses offered me a simple solution–after I nursed we were to give the girls supplemental formula.  It can take a few days for a mother’s milk to come in.  Yes, my girls were getting colostrum, but we were concerned that I wasn’t able to provide enough in terms of volume for two babies. For the two days we were in the hospital we offered enough formula after each nursing session to keep their blood sugar levels normal and safe.  Once we got the girls home my milk came in. Fast forward thirteen months later and we are still nursing. Continue reading

Just One Bottle Would Have Kept My Baby Off Life Support: The Failure Of Baby-Friendly (BFHI) Care In Canada

My husband and I were the happiest people on earth to have just welcomed our healthy baby boy Ian into the world [born in an Ottawa Baby-Friendly hospital].   We were anxious first time parents. We had taken all the prenatal classes. I read the book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and we felt well-informed to approach this new chapter in our lives.  We made the decision that I would be breastfeeding as that was the “right” thing to do for our baby.  My baby latched on automatically and the nurses were impressed with how he was eating because he fed about every hour and would feed for at least 45 minutes.  I was nervous that I was not doing something right, and I continuously asked each and every nurse that came in to check on us if I was doing it right. I even asked them to just watch us while he fed and see if it was going okay. They all consistently replied, “You are doing great.”

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Ian at 12 hours old.

The next morning came and I participated in a breastfeeding class held in the hospital by a lactation consultant (LC).  The class had about 20 new moms with their babies there and the LC asked us to have our babies latch on  and feed while she teaches and does her presentation.  Again, Ian automatically latched to me and the LC was impressed and commented that I was like a pro already and that he latched perfectly and was doing well.  I brought forward my concern to her as well, saying that he latches on about every hour or so for 45 min or more and she said, “That is great, he is a good eater!”  About 30 min into the 1 hour class,  all the other moms were sitting with their babies resting in their laps as they had all finished their feeding, but Ian was still latched onto me until the end of the class. The LC never brought anything up about the fact that if a baby is feeding for more than 30 minutes that means that they are probably not satisfied.   Furthermore, I asked the LC if I could start pumping and she told me “no,” that I had to wait 6 weeks before pumping and giving him a bottle because otherwise he wouldn’t want to breastfeed anymore and it would disrupt our breastfeeding.  So I kept my pump away as I was told, but this meant I had no idea how much milk I was producing (which later I found out was almost nothing). Continue reading

To Baby-Friendly Hospital Caregivers, “It is Better to Be Safe Than Sorry,” Mom Urges After 3-Day-Old’s Dehydration

About two days after initial discharge from her Indiana birth hospital, my three-day-old baby was admitted to the Children’s Hospital with dehydration and high sodium levels (hypernatremia).  My purpose in sharing the following exceptionally personal detail is that these words might prevent similar suffering for others.

Several separate oversights in care culminated in my  baby’s health crisis.  If only she had been supplemented earlier, she might not have faced hypernatremia and dehydration. 

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