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Daily Mirror Claims Baby Nearly Starved After Milk Dried Up Overnight!

The British Media are at it again today, with the Daily Mirror running a spectacularly inaccurate, scaremongering piece claiming breastmilk suddenly dried up overnight, leaving a baby starving because his mum didn't realise.

It's a rather bizarre piece they claim is an "exclusive interview" with a mother in America and whilst articles that appear to try and scare parents into formula feeding aren't new,  they are increasing in frequency.  This is because as an "opinion piece" there's little restriction in what can and can't be said legally, with no need to provide accurate or evidence based information.  Thus we should all be extremely suspicious before we even start reading.

Of course the Mirror could choose to accurately convey the story of what supposedly happened, as ethically this piece is questionable at best.  But then there'd be no click bait headline, reduced readership and that doesn't make money does it?

Au contraire it's so dramatic, it's hard at times not to laugh - except the fact mothers may read this and panic, means it's actually far from funny funny.
"Before being allowed home with their son, Andrea was taught how to breastfeed, but admits in hindsight that this was the start of her problems."
Being taught how to breastfeed was the start of her problems? Yet as we'll discover, after the first few days breastfeeding was comfortable and according to mum and health records going well for the first FOUR months.

Kara O'Neill either seems a bit confused about what she's actually reporting, or is just particularly bad at explaining:
"It was only when he reached four months old and his weight dropped and Jogie began to look thinner that Andrea switched to formula milk and realised she had been starving her baby for eight weeks."
This infers that he reached 4 months old and was underweight, giving formula mum realised she'd been "starving" her baby for 8 weeks (ie since 2 months of age); yet as we read further into the piece this isn't what happened.

In fact at 4 months Jogie was thriving, perhaps those breastfeeding lessons helped after all ;)

"Doctors said her child was growing well, and he was gaining weight appropriately for his age. At four-months-old he weighed 14lbs 6oz."
If we plot Jogie's birth-weight on the growth charts, we can see he was born just under the 50th centile.  When he was weighed at 4 months, he again plots on the 50th and has doubled his birthweight - suggesting optimal growth, you couldn't get a more typical growth pattern.

The next bit is super important:
"But it was at this point that things started to take a turn for the worse.
Andrea said: "Jogie had a lot of trouble sleeping at night. I googled what the possible cause could be, and I saw many posts about the four-month-old sleep regression. So I sleep trained him, and after a couple of weeks, he was back to waking up only once or twice in the middle of the night."
"Sleep trained him" - another, perhaps nicer way of saying "so I withheld feeds he was signalling for".

Baby woke frequently and instead of exploring why - his cues were ignored as "undesirable behaviour", no doubt the words "self-soothe" also appeared in there.

Whereas previously he'd been getting calories at night, now he was limited to twice - and for whatever reason that clearly wasn't enough for this baby.

Thus it would seem to me that "sleep training" was in fact the start of her problems.  In fact a more accurate headline would be:

"Mum 'can't forgive herself' for not realising sleep training could cause breastfeeding problems".

The next section is a mish-mash of parent-misleading advice - whereas her breasts had previously felt full and engorged, now they didn't.  Whereas she could at first pump 4 ounces now she couldn't; she googled this was normal and so didn't worry.

Indeed this IS normal - mum shouldn't feel uncomfortably full at 4/5/6 months, mums who don't regularly express wouldn't expect to pull 4 ounces unexpectedly at this age (breasts regulate to provide what baby needs) - but I can now imagine mums all over the country worrying their totally normal supply is in fact dwindling because of comments such as this.   It feels really insidious...

Mum noted she felt "empty" and perhaps more importantly that:
"Jogie's nursing sessions reduced in time dramatically. When he was born, Jogie would be latched to her breast for 10 minutes each time he was fed."But his time feeding continued to get shorter and shorter, falling from eight minutes down to six, and eventually just three minutes in total.Then, in early July,  Jogie refused to feed from Andrea's breast completely"
The timeline is a little confusing as if he was born December, his 6 month check would have been due in June.  However Andrea says they didn't see a doctor at this time as they didn't have insurance (remember no NHS there) - thus July would make him 7 months and it can't have been only 8 weeks since last weigh in as the Mirror report.

Andrea recalled: "The doctor didn't seem too concerned, but she also did not know how much he weighed before, so she didn't want to make any judgements. Her children were also very small and light, so she didn't want to say anything"

Switching doctors usually means transferring of notes so why did this doctor not have a prior weight recording? In the UK this doesn't happen as the baby has their "red book" which parents hold and is taken to different healthcare professionals.

If mum noted the baby looked thin at this time, why didn't the doctor?  I'm also not entirely sure what is meant by "she didn't want to say anything", is the mum implying the doctor was medically negligent based on her own personal situation?  If so this surely needs investigating?

Did the mum tell the doctor her baby had reduced his feeds down to only a minute or two?  Clearly not enough time for a baby of that age and size to take a full feed?

Something else confusing is Americans don't see a "GP" for baby checks, they see a paediatrician, so it's confusing why the Mirror chose to use this terminology.
"On July 4, after Jogie had refused to feed entirely, Andrea made a decision that would ultimately save his life and decided to switch to formula milk."
In the timeline of the piece it reads as though Jogie saw the doctor for his 6 (now 7) month check PRIOR to the switch to formula - because according to mum from the first feed it clicked he had become underweight because he'd been hungry and his gain soared to 50g per day as she immediately abandoned breastfeeding in favour of the bottle.

The switch to formula was the 4th July and the 1st and 2nd were a Saturday and a Sunday -  which only leaves July 3rd as the day he must have seen the doctor, ONE DAY before this "lifesaving" decision.

Are we seriously to believe his life was at risk?  The moment he refused the breast entirely, his mum gave another milk - he wasn't at death's door.

But yey for formula milk, the saviour for mothers worldwide who receive sub-optimal, substandard, crappy internet advice!  No mention that mum could have taken steps to increase her supply, that she could have continued to breastfeed alongside formula whilst someone helped to establish why - that wouldn't fit the narrative at all would it?

I begin the lose the will to live at this point:
"My message to other mothers is that their milk supply can dry out suddenly and without any explanation. Breastfeeding was great for the first four months of Jogie's life. Everything went well.
"He was happy. Then things took a turn for the worse, and I kept blaming it on something else because my internet searches kept reassuring me that the baby can get the milk he needs from you via supply and demand."
 My message to Andrea would be no, milk supply can't and didn't in this case dry up "suddenly and without explanation".

Breastfeeding was going "great" until his night-feeds were restricted, perhaps at a time he was feeding more frequently to naturally increase supply to meet his growing needs.  As you say it's all about supply and demand, yet when he "demanded", he was sleep trained.  As supply fell in response, his feeds became shorter yet having being trained his cues are ignored, there was little point expending energy to rouse more frequently.

As feed duration reduced (IE demand reduces), supply would fall further in response - compounding the problem.  Indeed his feeds gradually became shorter - highlighting it was as the opposite of "suddenly and without explanation".

My first rule is always to feed the baby, and I do get so sick of internet groups, where clearly starving, drastically underweight babies are told repeatedly everything is fine.  Yet again this mum was failed by the system, failed by those around her and left blaming herself.  Now THAT is what we should all be up in arms about.

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