Dying for Milk: The Pam and Chaz Floyd’s Story

By Pam Floyd, Mother and Fed is Best Advocate

Twenty-five years ago, Chaz, the son of Pam Floyd, was born and developed hypernatremic dehydration from insufficient breast milk intake while exclusively breastfeeding. Chaz developed brain injury from dehydration and now lives disabled with cerebral palsy. Their story was published on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. She was subsequently interviewed on 20/20, which prompted a similar feature on ABC’s Prime Time Live. Pam contacted the Fed is Best Foundation to share her story again to warn mothers of the dangers of insufficient feeding.

Chaz develop hypernatremic dehydration from insufficient feeding while exclusively breastfeeding

“25 Year Anniversaries Should Be Celebrated Not Served As A Warning”

Twenty-five years ago my son almost died.  He was only six days old. I had chosen to breastfeed, as everyone around me kept reminding me that ‘breast is best.’  So I followed their advice, and I exclusively breastfed. Even though I felt like something wasn’t quite right those first few days, everyone assured me everything was fine.  The nurses in the maternity ward suggested that since I was a new mother, I wasn’t able to appreciate how much he was getting. The home health nurse that visited me, courtesy of my health insurance, the day after I left the hospital, reassured me that as long as he was getting six to seven wet diapers a day, then he was getting enough. And the nurses in my pediatrician’s office told me not to worry, that he was a big baby that he would eat when he got hungry. And my personal favorite, “the great thing about breast milk is that you never have to worry about how much or how little he’s getting. Because he’ll always get what he needs.” Well, that works great, if your milk comes in.  My colostrum wasn’t enough for my son, Chaz. And my body never produced enough milk to keep a 10 lb. 4 oz. baby boy healthy.

Then when my son’s eyes started rapidly zig-zagging back and forth on that sixth day of life and I called the pediatrician’s office to tell them he was having a seizure, they told me that I didn’t know what I was talking about and that sometimes newborn’s eyes do that as they often wander.  Well, the pediatrician finally agreed to see us. We were immediately sent to the emergency room. Then we were transferred to the children’s hospital. There, my son was put into a drug-induced coma until his seizures were under control. His diagnosis was a stroke due to hypernatremic dehydration.  Children’s Hospital had me use their hospital grade breast pumps those first few days. The most I ever pumped was 3 cc’s. About a teaspoon. Usually, I just came back with mist. Or what looked like spit. There was never milk. I never got engorged. I never leaked. There was never any milk.

I got mad about this.  Especially when I found out that it can and does happen regularly.  It didn’t show up in any of my baby books or videos. So I called our local newspaper, The Virginian Pilot, and asked them to write an article about it, they did, it was called, “Mother Knows Best.” That was later revived by a journalist from The Wall Street Journal in an article entitled, “Dying for Milk: Some Mothers, Trying In Vain to Breast-Feed, Starve Their Infants — `Yuppie Syndrome’ Among Well-Meaning Parents Stems From Bad Advice — A Generation of Perfectionists.”  We made the front page with that one. Of course, that set off a media frenzy.

It was then that I understood why Chaz had suffered. It was so he could help save other babies. And he did. I heard from those parents. I received letters and phone calls from people saying that thanks to that article in or on whatever magazine, newspaper, television show, or radio show, they got their child to the doctor in time. Not all stories had happy endings. But my son’s near-death experience was saving others.

He was now destined for a life of pain and obstacles. But some way, somehow, we would find a way to make it through. And make it through we have.

But as I scroll through the internet, I see that the problem is still there. The breastfeeding zealots are still winning. They are still bullying moms. They are not allowing moms to use breast and bottle feeding together in hospitals and newborn babies are suffering because of it.  They are suffering unnecessarily, and that bothers me. Actually, it pisses me off. I’m okay with you breastfeeding and with you recommending it. But I’m not okay with you jamming it down someone’s throat the way some people do religion.  Society has come to terms with the fact that not all women can get pregnant. So why is it so hard for society to understand that not all women can breastfeed? It’s really that simple. You have a woman, that has a baby. She tries to breastfeed. It doesn’t work. She gives a bottle. End of story. No one gets hurt in that story. But if we force this mom to keep putting her aggravated and very unhappy child to her empty breasts, then we are sending mom and baby down a road of no return.  You cannot reverse brain damage. And you cannot undo death. Breastfeeding is not worth the risk. It’s not. It’s just not.

So here we are twenty-five years later, why can’t the breast-feeders and the bottle feeders get along?  Why does it have to be one or the other? Can’t we coexist? For the sake of the hundreds of thousands that are affected by hypernatremic dehydration each year, can’t we just get along?  For the sake of the children at least.


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.

Donate to Fed is Best

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

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I Begged for Food for my Baby and I Begged for Nipple Relief at my BFHI Hospital

It was December 13th at 2:30 in the morning. My water broke as I was sleeping. I woke my husband up and the panic set in. My son was a scheduled C-Section due to the fact he was breech and he was going to be a big baby according to all the scans. I was scheduled for the 18th, which was my birthday, but he decided to come early. My husband and I rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tacoma, WA. This hospital was a “Baby-Friendly” hospital, which meant they push things like exclusive breastfeeding, no pacifiers and no nurseries. I didn’t think much of these things at the time, as I was a first-time mom and hadn’t pondered on them much. On paper, this all sounded great, and I was excited to go there. I had a simple birth plan: no circumcision and I wanted my husband in the operating room. That was it really. I trusted the doctors and nurses there to help me out.

The doctors were amazing. I got into the triage area at about 3:00 am and the doctors were awesome about monitoring me and keeping me up-to-date. The anesthesiologist and my OB helped me feel so comfortable. The cesarean went so well, I was in complete shock. After we had our initial bonding as a first-time family, things began to head downhill. By this time, I had been asked about 3 times if I was going to breastfeed, and I was planning to, but I would be doing a lot of pumping since I run around for my job. I was hoping to learn how to use a pump. However, the hour of recovery before being moved to my room was the start of the insanity. I was pushed to try and get my son to breastfeed, even when I was still throwing up from the medicine. I wanted to so badly, but I was vomiting every 15 minutes. I eventually could last for about a half hour before throwing up on myself again.

When I tried to breastfeed for the first time, my breasts were manhandled more than I had ever experienced in my life. I never consented to having so many nurses touch my breasts. I should have been sterner about not having so many people manipulating my breasts in order to breastfeed, but I was still out of it from the surgery.

To give some background at this point: My son was conceived using fertility treatments after many unsuccessful tries and he was born two weeks early. I was only an hour in recovery after a major surgery and I had a swarm of nurses touching my breasts to top it all off.  After trying for several more hours, my nipples became so cracked, they started to bleed. I had about 10 different nurses trying to get him to feed and they all commented on his good latch. Okay! Great! Good latch means he’s getting food, right? No. Unfortunately, I was so dry nothing was there for him and I had to wipe blood off of his lips.

Fast forward to about 36 hours post-birth and my husband and I had no sleep at this time because our son was crying so much from being hungry. This hospital had no nursery and I was supposed to take care of him while recovering from major surgery. My husband helped as much as possible, but he obviously couldn’t help much with breastfeeding. I was at a critical point where the lack of sleep, pain from surgery and pain from cracked nipples was so bad, I broke down.

I begged for something for him, I begged for food because I knew he was so hungry and not getting anything from me. I begged for nipple relief. I am not sure why, but I still hadn’t had a proper lactation consultant stop by.

Hungry and unsettled after nursing.

My nurse finally put in a request for a lactation consultant to see me. It was rather late at this time, and I begged the nurse to please help my baby and get him some formula. She looked at me as if I had committed the biggest sin. She kept making me try before finally (after two hours of begging) she had donor milk on hand. GREAT! Finally, he can get some food. This was now into the late night and my husband and I were so tired from him crying all night that we were done. He passed out. The nurse finally took pity on us and took him to the nurse’s station for about 2 hours. She was the silver lining, even after giving me such a hard time before.

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My Baby Went Through Hell And Suffered Needlessly From Starvation

Jenn T.

My son was born on February 18, 2019. He was 6 lbs 10 oz and had a little trouble regulating his temperature at birth. But after 24 hours, he was okay. I was always told breast was the best way to go. I never breastfed my 9 year old so this was my first experience with it.

My son had latching issues at first and it caused major pain and bleeding. But after latch correction and using nipple shields, the pain dissipated. When we left the hospital, my son weighed 6 lbs (9.3 percent weight loss) and at his checkup the next day, he had gained half an ounce.

At home I was feeding straight from my breasts, every time. My son was content and seemed happy.  He smiled and was great the entire time, so I thought. I didn’t pump to see how much milk I had because the hospital where I delivered told me pumping in the first 6 weeks could cause confusion for the baby with latching.

Now fast forward to when he was 21 days old. He had his three week checkup and he was extra sleepy that morning. When we got to the doctor, and not only did he lose weight, (down to 5.5 lbs), but he also had a temperature of 92 degrees. He was hypothermic! So they sent us urgently to the children’s hospital in Nashville. Continue reading

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Maternal Mental Health Feels Like it Comes Second to Breastfeeding When It Should Be First

This story is for you mommas whose mental health feels like it comes second to breastfeeding, when it should be first.

I have a long history of mental illnesses in my family. I inherited most of them. While they do not define me, they are a part of me. I have Bipolar 1 Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder and a Panic Disorder.

I tried to get pregnant in 2016, but through no fault of my own, was diagnosed with PCOS and had to go back on hormones to re-regulate my cycles. Luckily, I was able to score an appointment with my amazing fertility specialist in Jan 2017 and I soon became pregnant in February. I saw my psychiatrist shortly after and I couldn’t decide if I should bring up how depressed I felt. This pregnancy was very much wanted but I wondered if I risked my stability and my mental health. My husband and I quickly decided pregnancy was not the time to start playing with my medication and I was just going to have to “push” through my depression unless I had thoughts of self-harm.

In this study, researchers found that 1 in 4 women had mental health problems: 15% had anxiety, 11% had depression, 2% had an eating disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder, and 1% had post-traumatic stress disorder. The research also found low prevalence’s of bipolar disorder and other disorders.

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Fed is Best Foundations Statement to USDA Healthy People Goals 2030

Christie del Castillo-Hegyi, M.D.

From December 2018 to January 2019, the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives for 2030 published the proposed Healthy People 2030 Objectives for public comment. Of note, the proposed Healthy People 2030 objectives saw a marked change from the 2020 objectives, namely a reduction of the breastfeeding objectives from 8 goals to one, namely, “Increase the proportion of infants who are breastfed exclusively through 6 months” (MICH-2030-15 ). Among the objectives that were dropped from the list were:

  1. MICH-23 – Reduce the proportion of breastfed newborns who receive formula supplementation within the first 2 days of life.
  2. MICH-24 – Increase the proportion of live births that occur in facilities that provide recommended care (i.e. Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative-certified hospitals) for lactating mothers and their babies.
Healthy People 2020 ObjectivesBaseline (%)Target (%)
Increase the proportion of infants who are breastfed (MICH 21)
Ever74.081.9
At 6 months43.560.6
At 1 year22.734.1
Exclusively through 3 months33.646.2
Exclusively through 6 months14.125.5
Increase the proportion of employers that have worksite lactation support programs (MICH 22)2538
Reduce the proportion of breastfed newborns who receive formula supplementation within the first 2 days of life (MICH 23)24.214.2
Increase the proportion of live births that occur in facilities that provide recommended care for lactating mothers and their babies (MICH 24)2.98.1
We applaud the removal of the last two objectives as patient safety issues have emerged from those two objectives, namely increased rates of neonatal jaundice, weight loss, hypoglycemia and dehydration readmissions. We have submitted the following statement regarding the Healthy People Goals for 2030 requesting for a revision of the current proposed objective and the addition of two new objectives.

Exclusive breastfeeding at discharge is a major risk factor for severe jaundice and dehydration. Both conditions can require in-hospital treatment and can result in permanently impaired brain development. Photo Credit: Cerebral Palsy Law

 

Revision of MICH-2030-15 calling for “Increase in the proportion of infants who are exclusively breastfed from birth to 6 months” to the following:

Increase the proportion of infants who are primarily breastfed through 4-6 months who have received sufficient nutrition to ensure optimal growth and brain development and to prevent feeding complications (e.g. hyperbilirubinemia, hypernatremia, dehydration, excessive weight loss, hypoglycemia and failure-to-thrive).

We have requested the following additions to the 2030 Healthy People Goals:

New Proposed Objective #1: Reduce the proportion of infants who require treatment and/or extended or repeat hospital admission for insufficient feeding-related hyperbilirubinemia, hypernatremia, dehydration, excessive weight loss, hypoglycemia and failure-to-thrive.

New Proposed Objective #2: Increase the proportion of parents who have made the informed choice to partially- or exclusively-feed formula to provide safe and sufficient nutrition to their infants to prevent feeding complications (e.g. hyperbilirubinemia, hypernatremia, dehydration, excessive weight loss, hypoglycemia and failure-to-thrive) and optimize growth and brain development.

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“Just Trust Your Body And There Will Be Enough Breast Milk”— I Was Devastated When I Learned She Was Starving

Corrine

I’ve been trying to write this for two months but my mama bear anger has been difficult to process. I’m done with obsessing now, and I hope telling my story will help me and any other mother who may be  feeling the same way. I want to move on from the anger so I can be the happiest and the best mother for my baby.

I researched extensively about birthing and breastfeeding while I was pregnant. I was extremely determined to breastfeed and I learned doing so meant I was a great mother and considering the information regarding the amazing benefits which went largely unchallenged, I just couldn’t understand why any woman wouldn’t want to do this. At no point did I ever read any literature or even speak to anyone who highlighted the difficulties of breastfeeding or that some women were biologically unable to breastfeed. At no point did it ever feel like it was a choice. There was no choice – good mothers breastfeed, they gave their babies the very best- the “gold standard” they called it.  My mindset had also taken on a deep suspicion of formula as an unnatural ‘chemical substance’ and basically a second-best feeding alternative and who wants to give their baby second best. Not only this but I had been repeatedly advised by mothers in support groups not to supplement as this reduced your supply and interfered with the breastfeeding relationship which would ultimately rob your baby of the “best”. There was absolutely no choice.

At no point did I ever read any literature or even speak to anyone who highlighted the difficulties of breastfeeding or that some women were biologically unable to breastfeed. At no point did it ever feel like it was a choice.

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I Chose to Formula Feed and I Don’t Owe Anyone An Explanation

By Alix Dolstra

I never realised there was a war between breastfeeders and formula feeders until I became pregnant and suddenly my breasts became everyone’s business. I found this rather odd as, outside of pregnancy, it’s usually seen as a form of harassment when others start commenting on your breasts, but I digress.

Very quickly after the “congratulations” came the “will you be breastfeeding?” I very openly admitted that I’d be formula feeding, unaware that I had metaphorically stepped in dog poo and wiped it on the clean carpets in the eyes of shocked onlookers. Apparently, I’d said the wrong thing. I couldn’t understand why, and that’s because I hadn’t actually said anything wrong in the first place.

I planned on formula feeding. I have absolutely no interest in breastfeeding. I support breastfeeding but I won’t do it myself. It has always been that way and I don’t feel like I owe an explanation. Though, quite often, I’d found myself being asked very personal and confronting questions about my body.

It made me feel… invalid — like somehow I owed it to them to have my personal space invaded.

When my brothers and I were children in the 90s, my mother formula fed us, while our neighbour breastfed her children. There was never an argument. We’d visit each other and it was normal. Some of us breastfed and some of us didn’t and that was okay. It was all the same to me. The babies were fed and happy. Breastfeeding was normal and so was formula feeding and that was the harmony in my mind when it came to my decision. It was quite a shock to find that it was a different world for me when I got pregnant.

Very quickly you learn that you are no longer seen as a human being with feelings and preferences. You’re an incubator that must meet societies ever-changing, sanctimonious expectations and you can never please everyone because there’s always someone who will strongly oppose and shame you. Through reading, I found that even if I had chosen to breastfeed, I would likely have been shamed and labelled a harlot for breastfeeding in public. You simply can’t win… at least, you can’t win if you’re always trying to please others. In reality, whatever choice you make, you’re likely winning as long as you’re not feeding your newborn soft-drink and coffee. Continue reading

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Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Speaks Out About The Dangerous And Deadly Practices Of The BFHI

by Christine K.

When the Fed Is Best Foundation was launched two years ago, a few nurses sent us messages about their experiences working in a Baby-Friendly Hospital Intiative (BFHI) hospital. They shared common concerns about watching exclusively breastfed babies crying out in hunger from not enough colostrum while being refused supplementation just so that high exclusive breastfeeding rates were met. Two years later, we now receive messages from nurses, physicians, lactation consultants and other health professionals, regularly. They express their concerns while asking for patient educational resources. They tell us their stories and they need support and direction on what to do about unethical and dangerous practices they are forced to take part in. We collected their stories and are beginning a blog series on health professionals who are now speaking out about the Baby Friendly Health Initiative (BFHI) and the WHO Ten Steps of Breastfeeding.

Christine K. is a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner currently working in a BFHI Hospital with 25 years of experience. She has worked in both BFHI and non-BFHI hospitals and talks about her concerns about taking care of newborns in the Baby-Friendly setting.

Regarding Unsafe Skin-To-Skin Practices

In BFHI facilities, skin-to-skin is mandated. The protocol calls for skin-to-skin at birth, for the first hour, then ongoing until discharge. New mothers are constantly told that it is important for bonding, for breastfeeding, for milk production and for temperature regulation of the newborn. Baby baths are delayed for skin-to-skin time and nurses are required to document in detail the skin-to-skin start and end times. There is no education on safety regarding skin-to-skin time, only that it is to be done. I have been responsible for the resuscitation of babies who coded while doing skin-to-skin. One died, and the other baby is severely disabled. Mothers are not informed of the risks of constant and unsupervised skin-to-skin time. Mothers have complained to me that they felt forced to do skin-to-skin to warm up their cold or hypoglycemic infant because they are told skin-to-skin time will help their infant resolve these issues when in fact it doesn’t. There is also no assessment of the mother’s comfort level with constant skin-to-skin. It’s very discouraging to hear staff say things like, “That mother refused to do skin-to-skin,” like it was a crime or an act of child abuse. The judgement is harsh on mothers who fail to follow the protocol. I have noticed that partners are pushed to the side, especially in the first hour of life, not being able to hold their newborn, due to this strict policy. Their involvement has been discounted in the name of the exclusive breastfeeding protocol. Continue reading

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Please Support Fed is Best on #GivingTueday!

We are making preparations for #GivingTuesday! This year, Facebook and Paypal are joining to match up to $7 million of donations made to non-profit organizations through Facebook. Please consider logging on to our Facebook page at midnight on November 27, 2018 to make your donation to Fed is Best. Put it on your calendar!

Donate to Fed is Best

This year, we are extending our campaign to hospitals and health officials. We have developed our information for hospitals page on the Fed is Best website and are developing our Fed is Best Foundation hospital guidelines for Safe Infant Feeding. We also plan to send our health professional advocates to Washington, D.C. to raise awareness on the safety issues that insufficiently fed newborns face on a daily basis.

Please help us in our mission. For those who would like to donate today or on a monthly basis, please consider going to our new donation page.

Thank you to all our supporters! #FedisBest

Donate to Fed is Best

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“Is Baby-Friendly Safe?”: BFHI Safety Issues Discussed at National Neonatology Conference

Full video presentation available at Contemporary Forums Online.

Las Vegas, Nevada — On September 6, 2018, the national neonatology conference, “The Fetus and Newborn Conference” was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Among the speakers was Jay Goldsmith, M.D., Neonatologist and Professor of Pediatrics at Tulane University, Member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on the Fetus and Newborn who gave a talk entitled, “Is Baby-Friendly Baby Safe?”

In the talk, he discussed the case of an Oregon woman who has filed an $8.6 million lawsuit against her hospital, Portland Adventist Medical Center, and a nurse who cared for her and her baby after accidentally suffocating her newborn after falling asleep with him in her hospital bed. According to the Washington Post, she had delivered her son by cesarean section a few days earlier and was given narcotic pain medication and sleep aids. A nurse gave her newborn to her while she was still drowsy and groggy to breastfeed in her hospital bed. About an hour after being left to breastfeed, the baby was found gray, not breathing with compromised vital signs in the mother’s arms after which he was rushed to the nursery. The baby received CPR and was put on life support but the child sustained severe and permanent brain injury. He ultimately died at 10 days of age. Continue reading

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