Photo: PARENTS

While exclusively breastfeeding your newborn has many benefits for mom and baby, it's important to acknowledge there are circumstances that may alter your breastfeeding plan. Ensuring your baby is getting adequate calories is a priority whether it is from breastmilk, formula or a combination of both. If a baby is not getting enough to eat, this can lead to starvation and can result in serious medical conditions.

Before leaving the hospital, review the signs and symptoms of starvation with your physician, nurse and/or lactation consultant. If your baby experiences any of these symptoms reach out to your pediatrician immediately and discuss the need to offer your baby a bottle of breastmilk and/or formula.

Many moms today have a strong desire or feel pressured to breastfeed exclusively. Emergency room physician, Christie del Castillo-Hegyi, M.D., was no exception. She was determined to breastfeed her baby. Although her son seemed to be eating well, he cried a lot. At 3-days-old she took him to his pediatrician. He had lost 15 percent of his body weight, which is 5 percent more than the average newborn weight-loss. On day four the lactation consultant determined she had not been producing milk, which prompted Dr. del Castillo-Hegyi to give her son a bottle. She then realized he had hypoglycemia, and he became unresponsive. She rushed him to the hospital to find out he had jaundice and was severely dehydrated due to low calorie intake.

“When I saw his labs at the hospital,” she told PARENTS. “I knew that I had disabled my son for the rest of his life.”

Today, her son suffers from a seizure disorder and developmental and intellectual disabilities. She hopes to help raise awareness about feeding options as the co-founder of “Fed Is Best.”

Joan Younger Meek, MD, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding, told HEALTH, “Safety is first, and baby being fed is important, whether that ends up being breastfeeding, breastfeeding plus some expressed milk or breastfeeding plus some formula, or [formula] only.”

Dr. Meek suggested that the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding should not be dismissed, and the percentage of babies at risk of experiencing complications related to breastfeeding are small.

More testimonies from moms and information on this topic here.



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Sandee Gruner

Sandee Gruner is a full-time working mom with a love for writing and communications. She resides in Southern California with her husband and two children, where she enjoys spending time with her family, exploring local attractions and volunteering.


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