“I Had No Idea He Was Hungry”: Devastated Mother Shares The Aftermath Of Insufficient Breastfeeding
March 8, 2019 17:26 By Fabiosa
A devastated mother has shared her tragic story of how her son accidentally died of starvation after being exclusively breastfed. Jillian Johnson has decided to open up her heart and reveal the painful loss of her baby to the public. This year, poor Landon would have already celebrated his sixth birthday. Unfortunately, insufficient breastfeeding made it impossible. Jillian now regrets only one thing: "If I had given him a bottle, he would still be alive."
The woman says she wanted to share the story of her deceased baby for a long time but has always been scared of what others would say and how they would judge her. However, her desire to warn other mothers about this painful experience eventually turned out to be more important than her fear.
Jillian confesses that she and her husband Jarrod had been well-prepared to welcome their baby. All the books they read and all the classes they attended highlighted the importance of breastfeeding to have a healthy child.
Landon was born with the help of cesarean section. Jillian says she focused on breast milk as an only source of food unless it couldn’t be provided due to medical reasons. The mother remembers those moments:
Landon was on my chest all the time. The lactation specialists assured that everything was fine, but one of them mentioned that I might have a problem producing milk.
The reason the specialist gave her was because of her diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome. It is more difficult for women with hormonal disorders to produce milk. The doctor recommended taking some herbs after leaving the hospital. Once at home, despite constant nursing, Landon wouldn’t stop crying. However, the family assumed it was normal.
As it turns out, the newborns shouldn’t cry all the time. They must eat, sleep, and “fill” their diapers. Landon’s parents had no idea that he was crying because he was starving.
The mother went to the hospital with her baby, where they discovered that the boy had lost 9.7% of his starting weight. The doctors thought it was fine because his diet consisted exclusively of breast milk. However, 12 hours later, the baby died because of cardiac arrest due to dehydration. Jillian remembers the best advice she received later when it was too late:
Breastfeeding is the best nutrition plan, but you must support it with a bottle of milk. This way you know that your baby has eaten enough.
Jillian's greatest desire is to go back in time and advise herself to give the baby a little bottle after each feeding. She still has many questions and an overwhelming feeling of guilt, but decided that the best she could do was to share the story to prevent future mothers from experiencing similar pain.
Lactation expert, Clare Byam-Cook, helps new mothers to get into the subject of breastfeeding, because many myths about this can end in similar tragedies.
Newborn and infant starvation from insufficient exclusive breastfeeding occurs when the baby gets so little milk out of the breast that the lack of calories and fluid causes them to lose excessive weight and become severely dehydrated. If feeding is going well, you should feel totally confident to stick with exclusive breastfeeding. But if your baby is clearly not getting enough milk, you should not feel any sense of failure or guilt if you need to give your baby a bottle.
Not the only instance
Although most mothers can feed their children by breastfeeding without problems, cases like Jillian's are surprisingly more common than one would think.
This is what happened to Mandy Dukovan, a first-time mother who was determined to feed her son Brock only breast milk. However, as the days passed she discovered that the little boy had only gained less than half of a pound in his first month. When they went to the lactation expert, they found out that the baby received very little nutrients and was permanently hungry.
Another similar situation happened with Cynthia, a woman who was only in favor of breastfeeding. Although everyone could see that the baby wasn’t eating well, no one guided her to supplement her milk with formula.
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Fortunately, both Mandy and Cynthia were more fortunate than Jillian. Their babies recovered in time and continued growing up healthy. However, all of them ask themselves the same question. How do you know that breastfeeding isn’t working well?
How to know that a baby is not getting enough milk
The majority of cases when breastfeeding isn’t enough can be detected and solved simply. The following guidelines will help you find out if something is wrong:
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- Sometimes the baby can’t latch on well to suck milk. As a result, the breasts stop producing the required amount for feeding.
- Apart from that, you may simply feed the baby an insufficient amount of times. The baby should be fed every 2 or 3 hours. This way it should receive the necessary amount and stimulate your breast to produce more.
- It is necessary to make each feeding approximately 10 minutes long for each breast. Otherwise, the child won’t get enough.
If for some reason, you don’t follow these breastfeeding guidelines, your baby is probably not getting enough milk. In this case, you should consult the doctor to guide you. With a change in feeding routines, the problem can be usually solved.
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However, when the baby latches on well to your breast and eats every 2 or 3 hours, but still doesn’t grow or remains hungry, there might be a possible medical problem that may require treatment or supplementing the baby's diet with formula milk.
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Even though this story is very devastating, it serves as a perfect warning for hundreds of mothers who may also experience similar situations. If this is your case and you don’t know if your baby is getting all the milk needed, consult your doctor to check your baby and assure that everything is fine.
This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.