When exclusive breastfeeding causes lifelong disabilities from insufficient intake. Honoring a child’s 6th birthday today. It doesn’t get easier.
6 years ago, a healthy, bouncing baby boy was born. His mommy had a normal vaginal delivery and he immediately latched and began breastfeeding. His first 24 hours of life were uneventful and his mommy and daddy were over the moon during this blissful time. Neither of them knew they would be victims of breastfeeding starvation which would result in life long disabilities for the baby boy, and a heroic campaign of epic proportions by his mother to inform the public of the unforeseen and dangerous consequences of insufficient intake while striving for exclusive breastfeeding.
This blog is written from reflections in my heart and my clinical view point as a NICU nurse, infant feeding expert and IBCLC. This is NOT about what infant feeding method is best for a baby; it is about celebrating this little boy on his sixth birthday, and to honor him I want to talk about how to prevent other babies and their families from the horrors of accidental infant starvation.
Every year in the US, approximately 60,000 newborns are readmitted back to the hospital for unforeseen complications from exclusive breastfeeding and insufficient intake. These babies may arrive to the PICU/NICU lethargic, severely jaundiced, hypoglycemic (low blood sugar), severely dehydrated, or with seizures. All of these symptoms have devastating effects on the developing brain; most of them are irreversible.
The lactation community will say this happens due to a lack of breastfeeding support. I am here to tell you – underfed babies are due to lack of sufficient intake of milk at the breast and mothers are not counseled on appropriate supplemental feedings as an intervention to protect their baby’s brains. Yet the existence of this very real and common phenomenon continues to be denied in the breastfeeding literature, which uses language like “perceived insufficient breast milk,” when babies are hospitalized for it every single day.
Pre-lacteal feedings are usual and customary all over the world.
If you observe non-Western cultures all around the world, babies are given pre-lacteal feeds or milk through wet nurses when mother’s milk is not enough in the first days of life because instinctively, we as a species protected our babies from starvation. The modern-day evidence that milk insufficiency exists, especially in the first days, is that countries all over the world without access to formula have independently evolved to supplement their newborns with pre-lacteal feeds, like sugar water, before lactogenesis II. The poorest countries in the world that have relied solely on breastfeeding, including Bangladesh, which has a 90% breastfeeding rate, provides pre-lacteal feeds to 90% of its babies. How can that be if supplementation destroys breastfeeding? Because it doesn’t.
How do we change this re-admission statistic? Easy. Inform all mothers that 22 percent will have insufficient milk supply in the early days of breast feeding and about 5 percent will never produce enough milk for their babies. The only babies who are protected are the ones who got lucky because their mothers produced enough colostrum to completely nourish them. The accidental starvation of a newborn child is a tragedy by any definition. The life-long disabilities are unacceptable and completely preventable.
For more information please click on the links I have provided for you below. Parents-please be informed and protect your babies.
Happy Birthday Sweet Boy!