My baby was almost brain damaged when breastfeeding went wrong | The Sun09/02/2022
A MUM has told of her heartbreak watching her newborn baby in hospital after struggling to breastfeed.
Cara Strickland was told her three-day-old baby girl could have been brain damaged due to the severity of her condition.
Many mums will resonate with the brave mum's story and her little girl, who she has not publicly named.
Cara said when she gave birth in July 2019, midwives told her she may find breastfeeding difficult because she had flat nipples.
She wrote in Insider: “I didn't panic when it didn't come easy.
“A nurse helped me suction a nipple shield onto my breast, and a lactation consultant came in later and squeezed milk onto a spoon, putting it into my daughter's mouth. ‘You'll get the hang of it,’ everyone said.
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“At home, I didn't worry when she didn't want to nurse, or when my mom tried and failed to help us latch.
“I didn't even worry when she got lethargic, started to sleep more, and uninterested in eating or being soothed. But my husband started to worry.”
Cara decided to call an after-hours nurse for advice, only hours after she’d got home with her new baby.
The nurse told her to immediately give the newborn breastmilk formula, which she guzzled fast.
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“I wept feeding her,” Cara said.
“I had failed to meet her most basic needs. Was I qualified to be her mom if I couldn't tell that she was starving?”
The new parents waited anxiously for their baby to produce a wet diaper, but it didn’t come, and the nurse told them to go straight to hospital.
Cara’s daughter had dehydration because she had struggled to feed in her first couple of days of life.
Cara said: “As I watched the nurses nestle my three-day-old baby into a blanket nest and insert a tiny IV, something clicked. Finally, I felt like her mother.
“They were about to put in the catheter when she peed on everyone. I've never laughed with such relief.
“They brought a pump, a sandwich, and a bottle. ‘If you hadn't started formula when you did, she could have brain damage, or worse,’ the kind doctor said.”
After the traumatic event, Cara continued trying to breastfeed but her little girl “never did latch”.
After around six weeks of attempting, while using formula, a midwife suggested Cara stopped trying.
“‘How would it affect you emotionally if you stopped?’ she asked. I started to cry. ‘I think it would be the best thing’.
“Much later, bottles in our past, the paediatric dentist looked in her [the baby’s] mouth.
“‘Did you have trouble breastfeeding?’ he asked. I nodded. ‘I just want you to know it wasn't your fault,’ he said.
“As he left the room, I wept. I had no idea how much I still needed to hear those words.”
It’s challenging for new mums to work out if their baby is feeding well, and to get into the groove of it.
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While the NHS does not have information on its breastfeeding page about signs a baby is not feeding well, it does list signs that it is.
These include that you can see and hear the baby swallowing, their cheeks are rounded while sucking, they seem calm and their mouth looks moist after feeds.
Signs a baby is dehydrated
If your baby has any of the following symptoms they may be dehydrated.
- Weeing less frequently
- Dry nappies
- No tears when they cry
- Crying more often
- Being fussy with food
- Cracked lips
- A dry mouth
- Fatigue and decreased energy levels
- Sunken eyes
- Mucous on the tongue
- Fast breathing
- A rapid heart rate
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