Five years ago, mum Jillian Johnson gave birth to a healthy baby boy, named 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.
Rapid weight loss and constant crying
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.
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.
Saying goodbye to Landon
Once Johnson returned home, Landon continued to nurse constantly. 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.
Twelve hours after getting home baby Landon went into cardiac arrest.
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.
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 became dehydrated and starved. This resulted in cardiac arrest and 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.