A heartbroken mum has opened up about how she accidentally starved her three-day-old baby to death.
Jillian Johnson reveals she was committed to breastfeeding her newborn son Landon, reading many books on the subject and choosing to give birth to her baby at a hospital that ‘encourages’ breastfeeding.
But soon after her little boy was born in February 2012, first-time mum Jillian says she knew something was wrong.
‘Landon cried. And cried. All the time,’ Jillian, from California, told Be. ‘He cried unless he was on the breast and I began to nurse him continuously. The nurses would come in and swaddle him in warm blankets to help get him to sleep. And when I asked them why he was always on my breast, I was told it was because he was “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.’
But despite one lactation consultant noting that Jillian may have trouble producing milk as she has been diagnosed with POCS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and Landon was her first child, she was sent home with her baby just days after his birth.
It wasn’t long before their fears were confirmed, when Jillian found her baby blue and unresponsive after he fell asleep following a feed.
‘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 says.
Landon was rushed to hospital where Jillian was informed that her baby had suffered a fatal brain injury caused by lack of oxygen due to dehydration, from not receiving enough milk.
It was then that Jillian was told: ‘Sure breast is best, but follow with the bottle. This way you know your baby has eaten enough.’
Jillian, now a mum of two girls, says: ‘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.’
She’s now talking about the tragedy in the hope of educating new parents.
‘I realised in my grieving that there could be so many more parents that needed to hear it or talk about it but were never given the opportunity,’ says Jillian.
This article originally appeared in New Idea.