This Breastfeeding Mom Accidentally Starved Her Newborn Son

Jillian Johnson's infant son Landon was only 19 days old when he died of starvation and dehydration. Johnson says she and her husband were "brainwashed" to believe that bottle-feeding would harm him. Here's how...

Jillian Johnson gave birth to a healthy baby boy named Landon, but just 19 days later, he went into cardiac arrest and died of accidental starvation and dehydration. According to Johnson, this was because she felt so much pressure to exclusively breastfeed him.

Jillian Johnson
I had no idea he wasn’t taking in enough milk. If I did, he would be alive. I wouldn’t have hesitated to give him a bottle. My husband said he thought about giving a bottle many times, but we didn’t want to ‘ruin’ Landon. We were so brainwashed.
Jillian Johnson, People, March 3, 2017
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According to Fed is Best, the organization with which Johnson first shared her story, many new mothers are encouraged to exclusively breastfeed while still in the hospital, but if a mother isn't producing enough milk, this can have dire consequences for her newborn. Co-founder and NICU nurse and lactation consultant Jody Segrave-Daily spoke about the importance of paying attention to whether a child is getting all the nutrition it needs from breastfeeding, saying:

Babies can suffer days of non-stop crying and hunger while nursing day and night without sleep... receiving a fraction of the calories they need to live. We have a modern tragedy happening right before our eyes and it is morally and ethically wrong.
Babies can suffer days of non-stop crying and hunger while nursing day and night without sleep... receiving a fraction of the calories they need to live. We have a modern tragedy happening right before our eyes and it is morally and ethically wrong.
Jody Segrave-Daly, People, March 3, 2017
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Baby Friendly USA, which advocates for breastfeeding over formula feeding whenever possible, agrees with Fed is Best that formula feeding is perfectly acceptable when mothers don't produce sufficient breast milk, but they still encourage mothers to try exclusively for breastfeeding first. Executive Director Trish MacEnroe says of the formula vs breastmilk debate:

There is room for supplementation and there is room for a mother not to choose breastfeeding. But like any health care recommendation, we always want mothers to know what the scientific evidence is, and if there are any side effects.
There is room for supplementation and there is room for a mother not to choose breastfeeding. But like any health care recommendation, we always want mothers to know what the scientific evidence is, and if there are any side effects.
Trish MacEnroe, People March 3, 2017
www.tesco-baby.com

Another pediatrician, Dr. James Sears, weighed in on breastfeeding and accidental starvation, saying that the best guideline for knowing if babies are getting enough food is the baby itself.

I’ve had babies not get enough feedings from both breastfeeding and bottle-feeding. It’s important to look at the baby and not the clock. If the baby’s fussy and seems hungry, even if it’s only been an hour, go ahead and feed him again.
I’ve had babies not get enough feedings from both breastfeeding and bottle-feeding. It’s important to look at the baby and not the clock. If the baby’s fussy and seems hungry, even if it’s only been an hour, go ahead and feed him again.
Dr. James Sears, People, March 3, 2017
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Now, the Johnsons are working to make sure that what happened to their son doesn't happen to other people's children.

I want people to educate themselves and to know that, yes, if you can produce enough to exclusively breastfeed your baby, do it. But there’s nothing wrong with giving your baby a bottle in the first few days before your milk comes in.
I want people to educate themselves and to know that, yes, if you can produce enough to exclusively breastfeed your baby, do it. But there’s nothing wrong with giving your baby a bottle in the first few days before your milk comes in.
Jillian Johnson, People, March 3, 2017
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But now, what we want to know is...

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Do you think it's okay to supplement breastmilk with formula?