What Is “Cluster-Feeding”And Is It Normal?

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

Cluster feeding is a phrase that is used to describe infant feeding behavior. Generally, it’s breastfeeding or bottle feeding that is in a different pattern from your baby’s typical feeding pattern. It is described as breastfeeding sessions or bottle-feeding sessions that are much shorter and more frequent, for 3-4 hours of the day. It often happens during a baby’s fussy period of the day. 

Cluster feeding is a phrase that sometimes is also called “comfort-feeding.”  As parents, we react to infant cries and feeding cues, so naturally we will assume a baby is hungry and when we feed them, they will be satisfied. But some babies will snack and will not take a full feeding during their cluster-feeding time; this is normal. Some babies simply want to suckle on a pacifier after nursing or bottle feeding. This is because their bellies are full, but they want to suckle for soothing and not for a feeding of milk.  Some breastfeeding babies will suckle, using non-nutritive sucking patterns for soothing only. Some babies will also want to be held and snuggled or may want to be carried or want movement, while suckling too!   

Cluster feeding can happen during growth spurts as well, but babies generally take in more milk during this time. It can also happen during times when a baby is not feeling well, teething or is tired or cranky.  And it’s true—some babies don’t cluster feed at all. My exclusively breastfed babies never did and preferred sucking on a pacifier, after nursing for comfort. 

When is cluster feeding considered normal?

  • It happens after a mother’s full milk supply is in, after birth.
  • It is during a limited time period of 3-4 hours in 24 hours.
  • The breastfeeding mother has adequate milk supply.
  • Baby is having plenty of dirty and wet diapers.
  • The baby is gaining enough weight.

If you are concerned that you are not making enough breast milk, or your baby isn’t transferring enough milk, you can do a simple check to see if you are.

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Continue reading

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I Shared My Story a Year Ago And I Was Told To Go Kill Myself – How I Am Healing

By Mandy Dukovan, MS, MFT, Marriage and Family Therapist, Fed is Best Foundation Senior Advisor

It’s incredibly hard to put into words all the things that The Fed Is Best Foundation has done for me the past year.  I happened to stumble upon the Foundation when I noticed a friend of mine “liked” one of their blog posts. I was a first-time mom who was struggling with many different feelings, and wasn’t sure who or where to turn to. My son was 2 months at the time, and was just beginning to thrive after I had begun to supplement him with formula. While I was so happy to see my baby finally gaining weight and thriving, I had haunting memories and raw emotions that I was struggling to sort out. I had immense guilt that I didn’t see the signs that my baby was hungry, which tortured me non-stop. I was embarrassed that I could look at his 1-month picture and now see that he was obviously malnourished, but how on earth did I miss this at the time?

MandyBrock

1 Month Old

I was angry that I didn’t follow my own instincts that something was wrong with him and was angry that I believed all the terrible things I was told from lactivists that would happen to him,  if I gave him a drop of formula. I worried that we would not have the kind of bond that babies who were exclusively breastfed (EBF) experienced with their mothers. I now know that our bond is so much stronger because we bottle-fed him and no longer experienced the immense stress that came each time I tried to breastfeed my baby. I got to a point where I dreaded even trying to breastfeed him, but I was told that was the best thing I could do for my baby, so I kept going, at the expense of my baby’s health and my well-being. I honestly believed I was the only mother who had experienced what we went through because I only heard the stories about how amazing and natural breastfeeding was and every mother could breastfeed if only she tried hard enough.

Since I am a therapist, I knew I needed to share my story. I found courage in my strong desire for other babies and mothers not to struggle. I also found courage in the fact that I needed a reason for all of the suffering—I needed to know that Brock’s struggle was not in vain. I kept telling myself, “If I reach even one mother and prevent even one baby from suffering like Brock, then I have to do this.”  

Then I shared my story… Continue reading

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Why the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Guidelines for “Medically Necessary” Supplementation Make the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative Unsafe

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

On September 22, 2017, senior members of the Fed is Best Foundation met with the top officials of the World Health Organization (WHO) Breastfeeding Program. We learned that the WHO has never studied the complications of the WHO Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI). We learned they have no studies commissioned to monitor the complications. Despite being presented data on the complications caused by allowing newborns to fast for days to achieve exclusive breastfeeding, they declined our offer to help make the guidelines safer and more ethical.  To watch the presentation given to the WHO officials, please go to this link. We learned that they have known about the risks of brain injury from exclusive breastfeeding and yet refuse to inform the public and health professionals. We learned that their provision for preventing brain injury consisted of telling health professionals to look out for “convulsions, lethargy and being unable to feed,” which are late signs of newborn brain injury. As a result, the WHO Ten Steps and the BFHI has created to an epidemic of infant feeding complications, hospitalizations, brain injury and disability in the developed and developing world. This constitutes one of the largest and most egregious violations of patient and human rights in the history of public health. They have asked for comments from the public regarding their draft revision of the breastfeeding guidelines, which make no changes to the recommendation, “give infants no food or drink other than breastmilk unless medically indicated,” while providing patients no information on the risks of avoiding supplementation. This is the official response of the Fed is Best Foundation to their request. Continue reading

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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!

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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. Continue reading

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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!

 

 

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

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

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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

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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

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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

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