A woman is speaking out after her baby died of accidental starvation just nineteen days after he was born.
Jillian Johnson gave birth to her first child back in 2012, but devastatingly, she lost her son just 3 weeks later after he died from a brain injury brought on by dehydration, oxygen deprivation, and cardiac arrest. Johnson exclusively breastfed Landon as per the instructions she received from medical professionals.
“We took all of the classes and I really, truly thought I was as prepared as a new parent can be,” Johnson told The Huffington Post.
Johnson, who helped set up the Fed is Best Foundation, had no idea that her baby wasn’t getting essential nutrients, and as a result, never gave him formula.
She told The Huff Post she regrets trying to exclusively breastfeed after succumbing to the pressures most new mothers face, Johnson wanted to share her story to make sure this never happens to anyone again.
Baby Landon was born at a hospital that promotes breastfeeding and doesn’t feed babies anything other than breast milk unless it is medically necessary.
“Everything that I had learned really drove me to want to have [Landon] in a baby-friendly hospital,” Johnson said. “My husband and I heard so much about ‘breast is best’ and the benefits of skin-to-skin. But it obviously didn’t go well.”
Johnson said Landon would constantly cry when he wasn’t breastfeeding and she was growing increasingly worried about it. She said the hospital staff said Landon was cluster feeding.
Just weeks later, Johnson was told she had insufficient glandular tissue and Landon was starving.
“On our first night home…I found [Landon] not breathing,” Johnson told The Huff Post. “He was blue. My husband started CPR. A lot of things are still blurry for me, but I know it took six doses of epinephrine to get his heart rate back up. He was rushed to the ER and he was so dehydrated, they had to give him fluids through his shins.”
Landon was immediately put on life support but died shortly after, at just nineteen days old.
Johnson said it took her a while to tell people how he died because she was ashamed. “Yes, it was my first child. And yes, the doctors and nurses should have helped me see the signs,” she said. “But it still feels like the absolute heaviest personal failure.”
Johnson said her husband is still torturing himself over Landon’s death…
“We were doing everything the books and nurses taught us,” Jillian Johnson said. “So we thought this is what it was. We just thought new babies cried a lot.”
Johnson said she isn’t anti-breastfeeding, but thinks there should be more information out there for new mothers. “I just think it needs to be personalized,” she said. “There are so many techniques hospitals could be using to help to breastfeed be more successful, instead of just sticking to rigid protocols. I think that’s what scares me.”
Johnson told The Huff Post parents should constantly ask questions about their baby and not be afraid to bring up any concerns.
“And make sure you have a support team,” she said. “Whether it’s your partner, or your mom, or a friend. The most important thing is to have a baby who is healthy and fed, and to have a healthy-minded mom and dad.”