Home Pregnancy Breastfeeding “If I Had Given Him Just One Bottle, He’d Still Be Alive”

“If I Had Given Him Just One Bottle, He’d Still Be Alive”

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Five years ago mum Jillian Johnson gave birth to a healthy baby boy Landon.

Born via emergency C-section due to foetal intolerance to labour, Landon was cleared as healthy and given to his mum in the Mother-Baby Unit only 2½ hours after birth.

Johnson gave birth to her son in a “Baby-Friendly” hospital. If you’re new to the term, “Baby-Friendly” hospitals are geared towards breastfeeding. That means mum and baby get to stay together, cuddling, sleeping and nursing. The only way that newborns, in this arrangement, are given formula is with a doctor’s prescription. A prescription isn’t given just ‘because’. It’s only written in the case that mum absolutely can’t nurse due to breast augmentation issues or some sort of medical reason.

 

Little Landon began to nurse after he was reunited with mum 2½ hours after birth. He was perfectly able to latch on and Johnson began breastfeeding. And breastfeeding. And breastfeeding some more. Even though the lactation consultants told the mum that everything was going well, one did tell her that she has a problem producing milk. Why? Johnson had been diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). The hormone imbalance that comes along with the diagnosis can interfere with milk production.

Soon after delivering, Johnson felt like she was nursing all of the time.

With all the breastfeeding going on, you’d think that baby Landon would be thriving. But, that wasn’t the case. He constantly cried and was losing weight. When the mum asked the medical pros why her baby wouldn’t stop eating, they told her that he was just cluster feeding – eating together in clusters of time instead of spacing it out. In the first 24 hours after birth Landon had nursed for more than nine hours total. During day two Landon nursed for 14 out of 24 hours. If that seems like a lot, it is.

Johnson had her concerns, but the medical staff didn’t seem worried. Landon had wet and dirty diapers, so it seemed like everything was in order. But, he had lost 9.72% of his body weight 53 hours after birth. Landon also continued to cry inconsolably. Like many of us first-time mums, Johnson had no clue as to why her baby was crying. We all know that newborns cry. Some cry a little, others cry a lot. Landon’s crying wasn’t your typical newborn hysterics though. As it turns out his unstoppable crying was out of starvation. Johnson wasn’t making enough milk to fill him, and Landon was starting to dehydrate and starve.

Of course, Johnson had no idea what was happening to her baby.

The doctors discharged both her and the baby two and a half days post-partum. Even though Landon had lost more than 9% of his body weight, and was still being exclusively breastfed, the medical staff never gave Johnson directions about supplementing.

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Baby Landon at Discharge with visible weight loss. #fedisbest

The family went home with their brand new baby boy. This is supposed to be one of the happiest times in a mum’s life. And it was. At first. What happened next is something that no mum can even imagine.

Twelve hours after getting home baby Landon went into cardiac arrest. After arriving home the continuous nursing kept on going. Following one of his nursing sessions, Landon drifted off to sleep. Instead of waking up with the typical baby cries, Landon was blue, unresponsive and had no pulse. Mum and dad called the paramedics, who tried to revive him. Even with the life-saving efforts of the ER staff, baby Landon had to be put on life support. Tests showed that he had wide-spread brain injury. The Johnsons had to make the heart-breaking decision to take their baby off of life support 15 days after he was brought to the hospital.

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Baby Landon in NICU after suffering cardiac arrest. #fedisbest

Such a tragic ending for poor baby Landon.

The official cause of death was ruled “hypernatremic dehydration followed by cardiac arrest causing hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (diffuse brain injury).” Landon hadn’t gotten nearly the nourishment he needed. As a consequence he dehydrated and starved. This resulted in cardiac arrest, and the subsequent brain injury.

Yes, we all know “breast is best.” Breastmilk certainly has benefits galore. But, nursing a newborn doesn’t always work out. Johnson learned this lesson in the absolute most difficult way possible. To read her story, and find out more about why #FedisBest is so necessary, visit the Fed Is Best Foundation website.

Erica Loop
Erica Loop is a mum, parenting writer and educator with an MS in child development. Along with writing for websites such as PBS Parents, care.com, Scary Mommy, mom.me, Modern Mom, education.com and others, she also is the creator of a kids' activities and art blog.
  • Kathy

    Hi Jillian.You are not to blame and shouldn’t feel guilty.Being a first time mum is hard because you just don’t know and babies don’t come with manuals..Blame should be put onto the staff at the hospital as you being a new mum and them being the experienced one’s they should have been more attentive to your concerns,they should have checked not only that he was latching on properly but he was getting your milk..I always thought that they have to make sure your milk is coming through so that the baby was getting what they needed.This is what happened when l had my first,they made sure that my milk flow was constant and that when my son latched on he was getting a good supply (or a good feed)..Also your little man should never have been discharged from hospital after losing that much weight they should have found out WHY he had lost that amount of weight.Yes breast is best but if baby doesn’t want to latch or mum is uncomfortable with breast feeding then at least give the baby a bottle..Its up to the mum if she does or doesn’t want to breastfeed,hospital staff shouldn’t be pushing the parents into what THEY want them to do whether it be at a “baby-friendly hospital or not..Happy 5th Birthday Landon,RIP little champ…Sending hugs to Landon’s Mum and Dad and the rest of the family.XXXXXX

  • Kylie Haack

    My heart goes out to you Jillian for what you had to go through. I cannot imagine how it must have felt loosing your baby.
    I too had a c-section and had trouble with producing milk, and I finally made the choice to put my girl on formula – luckily because my midwife could see she wasn’t putting on weight and I was feeding my baby all the time.
    Thank you for sharing your story, I can only imagine how hard it would be to relive this all again.
    Mums need to know that fed is best xx