Fed is best – infant dehydration

So recently, there has been an article floating around about a lady who sadly lost her baby due to cardiac arrest, caused by dehydration. Whilst this story is tragic and I sent the lady and her family my sympathies.

The language and the website this was published, Fed is Best Foundation; is very detrimental to a breastfeeding relationship. Flicking through the website, there seems to be a vendetta against breastfeeding and notable peers within the breastfeeding world. Some of these peers have actually been attacked by the founders of this website, for a product that they have made in relation to research that has shown this product has been helpful. Thankfully the people that have been on the receiving end of these attack, have managed to reply eloquently and without malice, unlike the FIB founders.

Whilst I do not personally, want to go into details regarding the stories surrounding the founders, detailed information about the original founder and her breastfeeding journey and story can be found here. This detailed post by Charlotte at Analytical Armadillo goes through the story and highlights where she and her baby were failed by medical professionals and the red flags that were missed. This story is also tragic and I feel deeply sorry that this lady was failed by the care professionals that she encountered. I truly believe that, although her story must be heart aching, and there may be some guilt surrounding it; she seems to now attack breastfeeding rather than fighting for more training for health professionals and making sure that they are aware of the red flags and signals that suggest something needs doing in order to prevent infant dehydration, whether that be to adjust latch, positioning or check for tongue tie.

Whilst the FIB foundation feel that they are doing a good thing regarding infant health, they are essentially advising to use formula and bottles in the early days of establishing breastfeeding, which as we know can result in ‘the top up trap’, nipple confusion and issues with latch. These are detrimental to the mother and her baby establishing their breastfeeding relationship and whilst formula does have its place in our society and sometimes helping with a breastfed baby, bottles can be avoided in order to give the baby a formula feed.

The main thing to be taken from this, I feel is that there is obviously a need for more training in the health care service in order to spot signals that an infant may not be receiving enough breast milk from their mother, but that these can be rectified in the early stages and that prolonged avoidance, can, unfortunately, result in infant death. I believe in the UK, we are lucky that many professionals do seem to be able to notice these signs and that infant dehydration is caught early, but this is not exclusive to exclusively breastfed infants.

So with regards to the training needed, it would seem that these professionals have missed what would appear to be simple steps to look for in an infant to assess whether or not they are dehydrated. The NHS details the below as signs of dehydration in infants:

  • A sunken soft spot on their head. 
  • Few or no tears when they cry.
  • Fewer wet nappies.
  • And may be drowsy.

This NICE chart is also informative for signs to look for dehydration in an infant, this may be helpful to new mothers that would like to know what signs to look out for.

In an infant that is suspected to be dehydrated or has lost a noticeable percentage of weight, these symptoms should be looked at in the first instance. Whilst it appears that these were missed or merely not looked for in the tragic stories of recent times. This does not suggest that breastfeeding itself would have been the cause, but that milk transfer was the issue and this should have been noted by the people that were caring for these mothers and their babies.

I could understand the call for needing and petitioning for further training for health professionals but the articles and information written by these people are not helpful in any way to a mother that wishes to breastfeed and is merely scaremongering.

If you are a mother concerned about any of these issues, then please seek help from a midwife, breastfeeding peer supporter, La Leche League leader or a certified IBCLC.

Useful contact numbers to discuss breastfeeding issues/advice:

  • La Leche League – 0345 120 2918
  • National Childbirth Trust – 0300 300 0700
  • The Breastfeeding Network – 0300 100 0212

 

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