Chest, bottle, whatever: How you feed is a shameless series about how babies eat.
dr. Christie del Castillo-Hegyi wants new moms to know that exclusive breastfeeding isn’t for everyone — and that’s okay. It’s a lesson she learned the hard way after the birth of her firstborn son.
As an emergency medicine physician, Del Castillo-Hegyi read all breastfeeding guidelines in preparation for the birth of her first child in 2010. She was determined to breastfeed her baby exclusively, taking to heart the message that “breast is best.” and the use of bottle feeding should be discouraged. She gave birth at the same hospital in Albuquerque, NM, where she worked to a healthy, 8-lb., 11-oz. baby, who immediately started breastfeeding.
What Del Castillo-Hegyi didn’t know was that her baby wasn’t getting enough milk, despite the expected number of wet and dirty diapers, and was slowly starving. Her baby was diagnosed with neonatal jaundice (probably breastfeeding jaundice, which occurs when a baby doesn’t get enough breast milk) and was discharged 48 hours after delivery.
A follow-up appointment the next day revealed that del Castillo-Hegyi’s son had lost 1 pound, about 15% of his birth weight. To put that in perspective, a healthy breastfed baby is expected to lose 7% to 10% of their weight in the first five to seven days after birth, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
She says her pediatrician told her she could bottle feed or wait for her milk to come in on day four or five. “Because we were so eager to succeed in breastfeeding, we went to breastfeed for another day unsuccessfully and the next day went to a lactation consultant who weighed his nutrition and found that he was getting absolutely no milk,” del Castillo-Hegyi – who co-authored —founder of the nonprofit Fed Is Best Foundation in 2016 with Jody Segrave-Daly, a daycare and NICU nurse and certified lactation consultant — shared in a 2015 blog post “As I was pumping and manually expressing, I realized I was produced nothing.”
She wrote that following breastfeeding guidelines and her pediatrician’s advice resulted in my child going four days without milk intake and requiring ICU care. Her son developed hypoglycemia and severe dehydration as a result of “insufficient milk intake from exclusive breastfeeding in the early days of life,” she wrote, adding that her son was subsequently diagnosed with multiple neurodevelopmental disorders, which Del Castillo-Hegyi attributes to the lack to milk.
“What I unknowingly did to my son was what I thought was best at the time — what I was taught was best,” del Castillo-Hegyi, who was eventually able to produce enough milk to exclusively breastfeed her son for several months, followed by formula replenishment, Yahoo Life tells.
She had twin daughters two years later, and her breastfeeding experience was “other worlds,” she says. “I didn’t have hungry babies.”
Although Del Castillo-Hegyi was able to produce “enough” milk after her second pregnancy, it wasn’t enough for twins. The stress of going back to work only made it more challenging.
“The amount of time it took to breastfeed, supplement, express, and feed with expressed breast milk — even with all the privileges and help a person might have to care for twins and a toddler — the stress slowly ate away from my milk supply,” says del Castillo-Hegyi. “Many women feel like they are just milking machines and gradually fail at it.”
She began to develop postpartum depression. “I couldn’t keep up with the demands,” she says. “In the end I couldn’t produce 1 oz. milk during expression. I have decided that I will not be absent for a single day and be happy for my children.” So she switched to formula alone and started taking an antidepressant.
The Disadvantages of the “Breast is Best” Messages
Breast milk is considered the best source of nutrition for infants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it contains antibodies that help protect infants against viruses and bacteria. But some have cited the downsides of “breast is best” — reports touted by the World Health Organization that babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life — saying that “the practice puts potentially harmful pressure” on mothers and that it “any mother crushes who cannot give her baby what is ‘the best’.”
Reflecting on her experience with her first baby, Del Castillo-Hegyi says there are several things she would do differently if she had known she wasn’t making enough milk or colostrum. “I would have wanted to breastfeed and supplement if needed — which mothers have been doing for millennia,” she says. “I would have known better to make sure my kids were fed, but I also forgive myself for not giving them all the milk they needed.”
According to a 2020 study in Pediatrics. Another study published in the journal nutrients noted “the high frequency of inadequate milk production in early lactation,” while pointing out that “if the breast milk supply is actually deficient, supplemental feedings are necessary.”
Breastfeeding is considered the “gold standard” for feeding infants. So for those confronted with breastfeeding, it can be a one-two punch: failing to breastfeed exclusively can cause guilt and embarrassment, while bottle-feeding, which can help replenish the milk supply, is seen as “a moral failure.” by some.
“The deep shame is to believe that your body is not functioning normally biologically and the deep shame that you are failing… one of the most important people on this planet to you – that maternal instinct to provide the absolute best for your child cannot be overrated,” says del Castillo-Hegyi. “Being told because of the failure of your body and the failure of your efforts that you are giving your child ‘second best’ or literally harming your child by bottle feeding them – there are babies whose lives are literally saved by bottle feeding. ”
New guidelines recommend breastfeeding for even longer
When the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently updated its breastfeeding guidelines and recommended that women breastfeed even longer, it backfired, with some arguing that breastfeeding for even six months is a “difficult enough goal for many breastfeeding parents.” .
Under the new guidelines, the AAP still recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months, but now touts the benefits to the mother of continuing for up to two years. The guidelines also suggest that pediatricians “discourage the use of non-medically indicated supplementation with commercial infant formula.”
But if a New York Times op-ed points out, is this worrying reports “about mothers who have been pressured by lactation consultants, nurses or pediatricians to reject bottle feeding in the early days of their children’s lives, and as a result their babies lost a dangerous amount of weight and , became seriously ill on rare occasions.”
It’s something that del Castillo-Hegyi knows firsthand. “They are so focused on promoting breastfeeding to as many parents as possible that they don’t take responsibility for the negative effects of their message,” she says. But in addition to shaming formula feeding, Del Castillo-Hegyi acknowledges that there are those who will “condemn” women who choose long-term breastfeeding. Whether a parent breastfeeds for two years or relies solely on bottle feeding, “we shouldn’t judge anyone” for their nutritional choices, she says.
6 signs a baby isn’t getting enough milk
To save other parents from what she and her son went through, Del Castillo-Hegyi urges them to learn the signs that may indicate a baby isn’t getting enough milk by using the acronym HUNGRY:
Hypoglycemia – this is characterized by high and inconsolable crying, nervous hands, lethargy, low body temperature, seizures and turning blue.
Unsatisfied breastfeeding — feedings that last longer than 30 minutes or are fed more often than every two hours, along with “crying despite breastfeeding and repeated breastfeeding,” she says.
Not waking up every three hours for a newborn baby, hard to wake up, drowsiness and sleepiness
Not gaining weight on day 5 – losing more than 7% of body weight can indicate nutritional problems and increase the risk of dehydration and jaundice.
Red brick-like dust on diapers is “a sign of concentrated, dehydrated urine,” says del Castillo-Hegyi. Fewer wet and dirty diapers or six hours of no wet diapers can indicate that a baby is not getting enough milk.
Yellowing of the skin or eyes is a sign of jaundice.
If you see these signs of hunger, the Fed Is Best Foundation recommends seeing your baby’s pediatrician immediately and supplementing feedings to avoid complications. “If your baby needs more, they need more,” says del Castillo-Hegyi.
About what she would tell other moms, Del Castillo-Hegyi says, “You don’t know what your milk supply will be, and there are ways to help your milk without starving your child. You can pump, you can replenish. In hindsight. are most [my children’s] nutrition came from the formula – they are smart, happy, funny, healthy. Like, what did I torture myself for?”
She adds, “I’m an exclusively breastfeeding mom and a combination breastfeeding mom and I was a bottle-feeding mom — and I was the same loving mom through it all.”
Don’t forget to #ShareHowYouFeed! Tag us to share your own nutrition journey.
Wellness, parenting, body image and more: meet the Who behind the how so with the Yahoo Life newsletter. Register here
Read more about baby food here: