Newborn Starves To Death After Mom Exclusively Tries Breastfeeding; She Tells All About Cluster Feeding

By Amanda Moore, Parent Herald March 01, 04:00 am
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A mom realized too late that her baby's cluster feeding was already a sign he was dehydrated and dying.
(Photo : Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

A newborn baby starved to death after his mom was told to breastfeed exclusively. The harrowing incident happened five years ago and the mother has finally spoken up about the dangers of cluster feeding.

Jillian Johnson shared her story via Fedibest. She said that her son, Landon, would have been 5-years-old and in kindergarten today had he lived through the ordeal.

Before Landon was born, Johnson and her husband prepared for everything including attending classes and reading parenting books. "Every class and book were geared toward breastfeeding and how it's so important if you want a healthy child," Johnson said.

Hospitals staffers and lactation consultants informed Johnson that Landon had a perfect latch on her breast in the first few hours after his birth. The newborn kept crying, however, and Johnson monitored how often he needed diaper changing to tell whether he was getting enough food and liquid.

"By the first 24 hours, he had nursed a total of 9.3 hours, had zero wet diapers and four dirty diapers," Johnson said. Little had Johnson known, Landon would soon begin cluster feeding.

Cluster feeding is when a baby's feeding time has fewer intervals. As per Belly Belly, it's normal among newborns to demand latching on a mom's breast most of the time, but it can be exhausting for the mother. It might also be indicative of low milk supply.

Johnson learned that even as her baby perfectly latched, the problem was her breast weren't producing enough milk. Doctors told her the delay might be due to many factors.

She was a first-time mom previously diagnosed with PCOS, a hormone disorder. She was also borderline diabetes with "small, widely spaced nipples." The fact that she had a C-section might have also caused delayed lactogenesis II.

The hospital, being a baby-friendly hospital, encouraged her to keep at it with breastfeeding, though. This also meant that if she wanted to give Landon formula, she would have to seek a doctor for a prescription.

The Johnsons were discharged 64 hours after Landon's birth. But barely 12 hours in their home, the baby suffered cardiac arrest. Rushed to the hospital, Landon was diagnosed with hypernatremic dehydration that eventually also resulted in a brain injury as the organ failed to receive oxygen. He was eventually taken off life support and died at 3-weeks-old.

All these years, Johnson has been bothered by guilt because she didn't pay heed to Landon's cluster feeding. "I realized that it wasn't normal for a newborn to cry as much as Landon did," Johnson said. "He was just crying out from his hunger," the mother added.

"But I didn't know. I should've known," Johnson said. "I still struggle daily feeling as though I failed him."

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