October 22, 2021

Dear expectant mothers, please don’t starve your newborn

A friend of mine gave birth to a beautiful healthy girl two months ago. She had a healthy pregnancy and an uneventful normal vaginal delivery. Just like all the mothers, she wanted to exclusively breastfeed her newborn baby. She started latching her daughter after a few hours of her birth and had a few issues. Her paediatrician helped her in learning proper latch techniques and how to get the milk in. Once back home she continued breastfeeding her child and she thought she was doing great because her baby was producing the expected number of wet and dirty diapers. The baby was very fussy all the time. She didn’t sleep well and wanted to nurse all night long. At her first appointment with the doctor at her 3rd day the baby girl was diagnosed with jaundice and she had lost a lot of weight. She was severely dehydrated and wasn’t very active. Turned out my friend wasn’t producing any milk at all. Three days her baby starved and was barely taking any feed in. After this she was told to supplement with the formula and continue trying to get her milk in. I can’t imagine the torture her little new born baby must have gone through by being underfed.

This is a very important lesson for all the expecting mothers and the mothers who have delivered recently. No doubt breastfeed is the most important but starving your new born at its vulnerable age can be fatal. Its a taboo to exclusively breastfeed. The moms who introduce bottles are shamed in our society. We go through excruciating pain trying to breastfeed but wouldn’t give a bottle knowing that we aren’t producing enough. It is normal for a new mother to have problems with milk production in the early days after delivery. That is the time when her baby is accidentally starved. This starvation can lead to hypoglycaemia, severe jaundice and can effect the brains development of the child in the future. They subsequently developed long-term neurological disabilities including seizure disorders, motor weakness, visual impairment and feeding difficulties requiring speech therapy.

To all new parents : provide your baby its physiologic needs every minute, including the days before milk production. The only person who knows what a newborn needs is that baby itself. The starvation caused waiting for the milk to come in can be very tragic for the newborn. Keeping my message in mind, discuss with your doctors and choose whatever is best for the little one.

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