Five years ago Jillian Johnson welcomed a healthy baby boy into the world via an emergency c-section.
After around two hours, little Landon had latched perfectly onto his mother’s breast and began breastfeeding. Everything seemed normal.
“Jarrod and I wanted what was best for Landon as every parent does for their child,” writes Jillian in a blog post for FedIsBest.
“We took all of the classes. Bought and read all of the books. We were ready! Or so we thought….every class and book was geared toward breastfeeding and how it’s so important if you want a healthy child.”
Landon was born in a “Baby-Friendly” hospital which places focus on breastfeeding. (No formula was given out except for medical reasons in which case a prescription was required.)
As nurses and lactation consultations visited Jillian and Landon they commented how “he had a great latch and was doing fine”, although she says one did point out that due to Jillian’s PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) she may struggle to produce milk.
Despite this, she was still encouraged to exclusively breastfeed.
Jillian says Landon would not stop crying unless he was on the breast, so she continued to nurse him continuously, what the nurses described as “cluster feeding”.
“I recalled learning all about that in the classes I had taken and being a first-time mum, I trusted my doctors and nurses to help me through this – even more so since I was pretty heavily medicated from my emergency c-section and this was my first baby,” says Jillian.
“But I was wrong. I’ve learned I have to be my child’s number one advocate.”
Within 24 hours Landon has nursed for a total of 9.3 hours, had zero wet nappies with four dirty ones.
After 27 hours he had lost 4.67% of his birth weight.
On the second day he nursed for 14 hours total, her 3 wet nappies and 6 dirty ones.
After 53 hours he had lost 9.27% of his body weight.
According to the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) a general guideline says that a baby loses 5-10% of birth weight in the first week and regains this by 2-3 weeks.
“I had no idea that he was inconsolable because he was starving – literally.”
Landon and Jillian were sent home after just 64 hours (2.5 days).
12 Hours later, Landon went into cardiac arrest caused by dehydration. He was rushed to hospital and placed in NICU. 15 days later he was taken off life support.
“I still have many, many days of guilt and questions – what if I would’ve just given him a bottle? And anger because how would I have known.”
Jillian says she still struggles daily but that by sharing her story hopes Landon’s death won’t be in vain.
The Fed is Best Foundation is dedicated to the prevention of newborn and infant starvation from insufficient exclusive breastfeeding.
Their message is “Feed your baby. Feed them as much as they need to stay safe and satisfied. Only they know what they need."
This article originally appeared on Marie Claire.