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On what would have been her sons fifth birthday, his mum, Jillian Johnson, finally speaks out about the death of her baby boy at 19 days old.

Jillian has struggled with wanting to share what happened to baby Landon for a long time. She feared what others would say and how she would be judged.

However, she is ready to put those feelings aside in the hopes that sharing her story will help prevent other families from experiencing the loss that she has been suffering.

Jillian shares on the Fed is Best page that Landon was exclusively breastfed, even though he would constantly cry unless he was on his mum’s breast. Jillian felt like she was continuously breastfeeding and when she asked why her baby was always on her breast, she was told that it was because he was “cluster feeding.”

I recalled learning all about that in the classes I had taken, and being a first time mom, 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,” she wrote.

“But I was wrong. I’ve learned I have to be my child’s number one advocate.”

Landon nursed over nine hours during his first 24 hours of life, but after being alive just 53 hours, he had lost 9.72 percent of his birth weight.

Landon was discharged at less than 3 days old and continued to frequently and exclusively breastfeed “with a mother whose milk had not come in.”

So we took him home . . . not knowing that after less than 12 hours home with us, he would have gone into cardiac arrest caused by dehydration,” she wrote.

“Did you know newborns aren’t supposed to cry all the time? They’re supposed to eat and sleep and dirty their diapers. I had no idea that he was inconsolable because he was starving – literally.”

Jillian shares, “the best advice I was given by one of his NICU doctors while he was on life support is sure breast is best, but follow with the bottle.

This way you know your baby has eaten enough….if only I could go back in time.”

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. I remember when Stella was born, and she was always quiet. I kept asking the nurses what was wrong with her. They said nothing. She’s doing what she’s supposed to. Sleeping. Eating. And it was then that I realized that it wasn’t normal for a newborn to cry as much as Landon did. He was just crying out from his hunger. But I didn’t know. I should’ve known.  I still struggle daily feeling as though I failed him.

Read her full story on Fed is Best

UPDATE 10 May

After sharing her story on Fed is Best, Sheryl, has been able to ensure her tragic experience teaches other mothers there are other options and breastfeeding isn’t always right for everyone. Breast isn’t always best.

Appearing on an episode of The Doctors, Jillian said: ‘Life isn’t the same after losing a child. There’s a huge hole in my heart, all because we trusted everything that we were taught – that exclusively breastfeeding is best thing for a baby.

“We want to educate as many parents as possible that you have to be your child’s number-one advocate,” Jillian says.

‘His death was 100 percent preventable. There is no reason that he shouldn’t be here today other than we were failed.’

There are two reasons why a child isn’t breastfeeding properly; the mother isn’t producing enough milk or the baby isn’t latching onto the breast appropriately.

There are several indicators that a newborn isn’t breastfeeding correctly that parents can spot to make sure the child is given the proper supplements immediately.

In Jillian’s case, her body wasn’t producing enough milk for Landon.

Experts advise mothers to exclusively breastfeed their child for the baby’s first six months of life and then for six more months while introducing new food to them.

Expert speaks out “Babies do not die from cluster feeding

Meg Nagle, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, recently explained when cluster feeding is NOT NORMAL.

“A baby who is awake all the time or very sleepy all of the time is a baby who might not be getting enough OR have something else going on.”

“A baby who is breastfeeding for up to an hour or more at EVERY or MOST feeds, 24/7. This is a really important one. Babies will breastfeed anywhere between 5 minutes to 45 minutes-ISH. And the time spent at the breast can change between each feed for the same baby.

BUT if your baby is taking an hour or more at every or most feeds then this can be an indication that they are not effectively and efficiently removing the milk. Time to get an IBCLC or volunteer breastfeeding counsellor to help you look at the whole picture and assess whether or not your baby is getting enough milk.”

Previously  we shared a very similar story from Mandy.  Thankfully with the help of family and her local doctor she realised before it was too late. Read that article here. 

If you need support establishing feeding with your baby please contact your medical provider or call ABA on 1800 686 268

Share your comments below.

Image via Fed is Best

  • I feel for this mother so much. I can’t believe the hospital released them when he had lost so much of his birth weight. How did the doctors and nurses not notice anything?

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  • This must be so agonising for this mother. A huge failure of medical professionals.

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  • This is so heart breaking, especially as she sought advice and was told everything was fine.
    My first two babies were ALWAYS feeding. I produced plenty of milk, in fact when they weren’t attached to me I was constantly leaking milk. That led me to believe that my babies were just really hungry or seeking comfort.
    I put my first baby on formula at 3 months of age but continued to breastfeed until my milk dried up suddenly at 4 months. This baby lost 1-200g only.
    My second baby was more extreme. Attached for around 20 hours a day and the four hours were broken up throughout (10 mins here, 5 mins there). That baby went on formula at 2 months and I was told to give purée at 3 months, this was whilst breastfeeding too. That baby never lost birth weight but kept stacking it on.
    Baby 3 was born at 4.5kg and lost almost 1/2 a kg in 2-3 days. This baby was happy to sleep 8 hours over night and I was happy to let that happen! In fact baby 3 slept a lot more than anything else.
    We were constantly monitored by the health nurse as babies born that big don’t usually lose weight. We had daily weigh in for 1-2 weeks. We discussed the previous babies feedings. I was told to wake my baby for feeds and after a week (even though baby did regain birth weight) formula was suggested as a top up. Around 2-3 weeks later formula became exclusive.

    It’s not just first time mums who make mistakes with breast feeding. My constant milk flow made me believe they were getting well fed. And with the 3rd… well no sane mum would say no to a good nights sleep. You think “if my baby is sleeping 8 hours they clearly aren’t hungry”. Baby did feed a lot during the day though.

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  • I am in tears for you, that is just so upsetting. What a strong mum you are to share

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  • Fed is definitely best and I also had a terrible experience in a Sydney public hospital. The older nurses refused to give me or begrudgingly gave me formula after I’d asked repeatedly when my milk wasn’t coming through. So demoralising

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  • This is heartbreaking and so sad I think that the nurses doctors at the hopstail have to be taught that fed is best not judging parents who chose to use formula that baby never should of been discharged from hosptail

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  • So sad to read this, an absolutely heartbreaking outcome. My twin sons would cry all the time as newborns because unknown to me they were starving too.. I spent all my time breastfeeding but it wasn’t enough


    • It is always sad when a child leaves this world… I look back and had I not had family support I could have easily been in the same situation…
      When I had my twins – they were my first- they too were constantly feeding, not settling and/or crying…
      It was my mother who while I was breast feeding my twins, went out and bought 2 bottles and formulae and gave each one around 40mls after I had been feeding for at least an hour… they both finished the bottles within minutes….
      I cried… I felt like a failure – they were starving also
      By 4mths they were on formulae except for their night feeds, which I continued to breast feed for several more months – I had enough milk to do that, and they were both more settled

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  • That is such a sad story, I really feel for the family. When I was at the hospital after giving birth to my little one, it was drilled into me that breast is best and I should try avoiding giving formula. This was really tough for me as I wasn’t producing enough milk and my baby wasn’t gaining enough weight but the midwives made me feel guilty at topping up with formula. No mum should be made to feel guilty about giving her baby formula, as long as baby is well fed!

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  • This is so sad breastfeeding is hard especially because you have no idea what’s coming out and if you have never done it before you have no idea I’ve learnt alot from trying with my first to now being able to do it with my second I believe fed is best breastfeeding is alot more convenient for me with how I live

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  • This is so sad. They also say they should have 5 to 6 heavy wet nappies in 24 hours. Such a tragedy for this family and sounds like she still feels guilty.

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  • What a tragedy. God bless poor Landon & his family

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  • I found it easiest to find out if i was producing ANY milk was to try a pump…. the pump showed me i could only produce 15ml per day…. obviously not enough for any child… so went straight to bottle. Smartest thing I ever did. Maternal health nurses still gave me crap about it… but I had peace of mind. I went on hormones to correct it…. I screwed up my body, I’m now on permanent meds for the rest of my life- don’t ever listen to others, listen to yourself and SEE the proof for yourself!

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  • This is so sad, but it does happen. I’m sorry for your loss

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  • So sorry to hear this happened!
    I know with my first child she would be on my breast but would cry constantly which is how I knew there was no milk coming in.
    I had to beg the nurses for a bottle because I wasn’t prepared and just thought all mums produced milk after the give birth.
    Lucky for me I had a nice midwife who gave me bottles of formula!
    But this is very, very sad!!!

    Reply

  • Such a sad story. I’m glad the mum has spoken about it and I hope it helps other mums. I needed to know this with my first born.

    Reply

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