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Thursday, Mar 2, 2017
It's been five years since American mum Jillian Johnson and her husband Jarrod lost their young son, Landon, barely three days after he was born.
The heartbreaking reason? Little Landon was being starved to death despite being breastfed, but Jillian didn't know.
In a blog post for non-profit organisation Fed Is Best, the mother shared the sad story "in hopes that no other family ever experiences the loss that we have".
Her piece, titled "If I had given him just one bottle, he would still be alive", has been shared more than 1,900 times since it was posted on Facebook on Feb 25.
Jillian wrote that Landon was born in a 'baby-friendly' hospital in US, which means everything was geared towards breastfeeding.
She explains: "Unless you'd had a breast augmentation or cancer or some serious medical reason as to why you couldn't breastfeed, your baby would not be given formula unless a prescription was written by the pediatrician."
Landon, who was born through emergency caesarean due to complications, weighed a healthy 3.3kg at birth.
According to Jillian she, like so many other mums, planned to exclusively breastfeed her baby, thanks to the wide amount of literature that promoted "breast is best" for a healthy child.
But despite suckling on her breast at almost all hours of the day and nurses proclaiming that he "had a great latch and was doing fine", Landon cried almost all of the time, said Jillian.
"When I asked them (nurses) why he was always on my breast, I was told it was because he was 'cluster feeding'.
"I recalled learning all about that in the classes I had taken, and being a first time mom, I trusted my doctors and nurses to help me through this - even more so since I was pretty heavily medicated from my emergency c-section and this was my first baby.
"But I was wrong. I've learned I have to be my child's number one advocate," wrote Jillian.
All the while, Jillian had no idea that her baby was starving because she wasn't producing enough milk, if at all.
Landon was discharged from hospital on the third day of his life, having lost 9.7 per cent of his body weight - considered 'routine' and 'unremarkable', according to the blog post. Jillian was also given no instruction to supplement her breastfeeding with formula.
Little did the Johnsons know that barely 12 hours later, Landon would go into cardiac arrest caused by dehydration.
Tragically, Landon died after 15 days of being on life support, where he was found to have suffered "wide-spread brain injury" due to low blood pressure from dehydration and cardiac arrest.
Wrote Jillian: "The best advice I was given by one of his NICU doctors while he was on life support is sure breast is best, but follow with the bottle.
"This way you know your baby has eaten enough….if only I could go back in time."
Jillian shared that she had always wanted to tell her story, but feared being judged by others.
In a Facebook post on Landon's memorial page on Feb 25, Jillian wrote that she was "honoured" that Landon's story is being shared around the world.
"We hope that by spreading the knowledge we've learned that we can help prevent any other family from losing their child to something that is 100 per cent preventable."