Losing a child is the worst pain that a parent can experience, but it feels even worse when the cause is something that could have been easily prevented.
Mom Jillian Johnson gave birth to a healthy baby boy back on February 24, 2012, and did what many new mothers do — breastfed.Johnson says she felt pressured by her baby-friendly hospital to exclusively breastfeed her son Landon.
As a result, he did not get enough colostrum (a mother’s early milk) in the first days of life and suffered cardiac arrest from dehydration just twelve hours after being discharged from the hospital.Now Johnson is speaking out about how she felt "brainwashed" to exclusively breastfeed and that mothers need to know there’s nothing wrong with a bottle.
“I can’t even say that pressure is the right word," she said.
via: People“Everything was pushed so hard, you felt brainwashed," she continued. "You felt like you were a horrible person if you gave your baby a bottle, and you wanted to do everything you could to make sure that your baby was breastfed and not given a bottle."
Johnson, who now has two other children she fed through a combination of breast and formula feeding, says there’s no words to describe how she and her husband feel about the loss of Landon.
via: People“It’s really not something I could put into words for somebody else to understand if they haven’t lost a child, but there’s a hole," she says. “There’s a hole in our hearts. He can’t be replaced. He would have been five, he would have been starting kindergarten this year."
But she wants to use her experience to help other mothers avoid the same pain.
via: People“There’s nothing wrong with giving your child a bottle," Johnson said in a blog post. “In the end, what would you rather have — a child that passed away because you did your best to breastfeed him? Or would you like to raise your child, because you had no fear and gave the child a bottle?"
“There is nothing wrong with supplementing," she added. "It comes down to making sure that your baby is getting everything that they need, even if it’s the first few days of life."What has the reaction been to her post? “There’s definitely a lot of pushback as far as, why are we anti-breastfeeding?" she said. “We’re not anti-breastfeeding. If we were, our baby would still be alive. There are women and even their husbands who have come out and said, we went through this. We maybe didn’t lose our baby but we had to have our baby readmitted to the hospital, or it came close."
In addition to being able to ask for support from doctors and nurses, Johnson said it’s important for the community to come together as a whole to support mothers, whatever their method of feeding may be.
via: People“As a community, we need to start taking care of each other," she said. “The amount of moms that have said, ‘I needed to hear this so that I could speak up,’ it’s amazing, because we shouldn’t be shamed for how we choose to feed our children as long as they’re fed."