By Michelle Ewing, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
LOS ANGELES — Five years after her newborn son’s death, a Los Angeles area mom’s heartbreaking warning to other mothers is going viral.
According to The Washington Post, Jillian Johnson gave birth to a 7-pound, 7-ounce boy, Landon, via emergency cesarean section on Feb. 25, 2012.
“He cried unless he was on the breast, and I began to nurse him continuously,” Johnson wrote in a blog post for the Fed Is Best Foundation, which, according to its website, believes that “mothers should be supported in choosing clinically safe feeding options for their babies,” including breast milk, formula or both. Johnson’s blog also included commentary from physician Christie del Castillo-Hegyi, one of the foundation’s co-founders who claims to have seen Landon’s records, the Post reported.
One lactation consultant at the “baby-friendly” hospital, which encouraged exclusive breastfeeding, told Johnson that she may have trouble producing milk because of her polycystic ovarian syndrome and recommended supplements, Johnson wrote. But the consultants generally assured her that Landon “had a great latch” and seemed to be doing well, Johnson added.
Johnson would not name the hospital, the Post reported.
When Landon was discharged on Feb. 28, he had lost nearly 10 percent of his body weight, according to Castillo-Hegyi’s comments on Johnson’s blog.
“These are routine and unremarkable findings in newborn babies discharged home to exclusively breastfeed,” Castillo-Hegyi wrote.
Less than 12 hours after the family returned home, Landon was unresponsive, Johnson said. He had “gone into cardiac arrest caused by dehydration,” she wrote, a claim backed up by Los Angeles County medical examiner’s records.
“It was really hard for me to comprehend at that point, because I had been breast-feeding him – ‘What do you mean he was dehydrated'” Johnson told the Post. “I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I was frustrated with myself because there were these doctors and nurses who kept telling me, ‘Just keep feeding him. Just keep him on the breast.'”
Landon died at 19 days old.
“I had no idea he was starving,” she told the Post. “Oh my God — if I’d known that, I would have given him a bottle.”
Johnson told People magazine that she shared her story so other parents wouldn’t have to go through what she went through.
“If you think something is wrong, push on those doctors and nurses as hard as you can to make sure, until you feel that you’re being taken care of, that baby’s being taken care of,” Johnson told People. “Especially at that age, you’re the only advocate that baby has so you have to do everything in your power to make sure that baby’s taken care of.”
She added, “There’s nothing wrong with giving your child a bottle,” People reported.
But pediatrician and American Academy of Pediatrics representative Andy Bernstein told the Post that cases like Landon’s are rare and that most babies can survive on colostrum for days.
“I’m definitely going to encourage breastfeeding when possible,” he told the Post, but added that formula is also a “very acceptable source” of nutrition.
Trish MacEnroe, executive director of Baby Friendly USA, also stressed that breastfeeding “is the optimal means for infant nutrition.”
“I think it’s really important for mothers to know that breastfeeding is safe,” she told the Post.