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

by Dr. Jessica Madden, M.D.

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

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

From Dr. Brian Symon: Words of Advice on Early Supplemented Breastfeeding Until Full Milk Production

Given new scientific data that exclusively breastfed newborns are in fact at significant risk for brain-threatening hypoglycemia, jaundice and dehydration, mothers are asking how they can supplement in the first days of life without compromising their long-term breastfeeding success. What they don’t realize is that supplemented breastfeeding in the first days of life transitioning into full breastfeeding or combination feeding was in fact the norm before the WHO/UNICEF Baby-Friendly exclusive breastfeeding guidelines. In fact, the historical evidence shows that all native breastfeeding countries, before the Baby-Friendly guidelines, supplemented their newborns with the milk of wet nurses, sugar water and other forms of liquid nutrition, also called “pre-lacteal feeds,” almost universally until a mother’s milk came in. The reasons for supplementation were to prevent newborn hunger, starvation, jaundice, dehydration and hypoglycemia.  Despite widespread mother-led supplementation of newborns in places like Bangladesh, mothers successfully breastfed the vast majority of their babies up to one (98%) to two years (89%) of age.  We used common sense to feed our babies and that is how we protected them in the first days of life and beyond.  Sadly, since the publication of the exclusive breastfeeding guidelines, hospitalizations for jaundice and dehydration have steadily increased and are now the leading causes of newborn hospitalization worldwide.

Here is Dr. Brian Symon talking about supplemented breastfeeding in the early days and how to transition over to full or combination breastfeeding.

By Dr. Brian Symon, General (family) Practitioner, Adelaide, South Australia

My heart goes out to the mothers writing about their struggle to breast feed and in some cases, babies ‘failing to thrive‘.  Landon Johnson’s story is a tragedy.

As a Family Physician my work is largely focused on the care of pregnant women and newborn babies.

My stance is very simple.

1. The ONLY logical reason for having a child is ‘the joy of parenting’.

We don’t do it because it’s easy.

We don’t do it for the “life style”.

We don’t do it for the “money”.

We do it for the deep joy of raising a child and seeing that baby thrive and develop.

If it’s not being joyful for the mothers whom I care for I want to change things so that the pleasure and joy returns. Continue reading

The Rest of My Breastfeeding Story

Written by Fed is Best Foundation Co-Founder Christie del Castillo-Hegyi, M.D. 

Not many people know the rest of my breastfeeding story, the part that happened after my son’s hospitalization. People assume that because I spend most of my time advocating for safe infant feeding practices by educating moms on how to breastfeed safely, that I am against breastfeeding or want mothers to feel like exclusive breastfeeding is unsafe. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Clearly if a mother has enough breast milk, exclusive breastfeeding is a wonderful way to feed her child, if that’s how she chooses to feed them. But I had to learn the hard way that being a good mother is not defined by exclusive breastfeeding.

Continue reading

Q&A: One Nurse’s View on Strict Breastfeeding Policies

Jody Segrave-Daly, our co-founder and the pro-mom advocate known as “The Momivist” regularly interviews nurses about their view and experiences, working with strict breastfeeding-only policies. Here is an excellently informative interview with a nurse we’ll call Sarah, as she’s asked we keep her name and hospital anonymous. 

Jody Segrave-Daly, AKA The Momivist: What are the most common encounters that you see with breastfed babies in the first 48 hours of life,  in your hospital, which has strict breastfeeding policies?

Sarah, RN at Hospital with Strict Breastfeeding Policies: I’ll start with the positive. One thing I really like about hospitals that have these policies, such as the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, is the emphasis on skin-to-skin after delivery. Instead of baby immediately being taken to a warmer, baby is placed on mom’s chest. Mothers seem to really enjoy this immediate contact with their babies, babies’ vital signs tend to stabilize better, and breastfeeding is encouraged in the first hour after birth (if baby shows interest). Continue reading