A new mother has told of her devastation to learn she starved her newborn to death while breastfeeding, and is campaigning against the stigma of bottle feeding.
Jillian Johnson said believing the myth that “breast is best” killed her firstborn Landon, who died just 19 days old, after he was exclusively breastfed from birth.
“We took all of the classes. Bought and read all of the books.
“Every class and book was geared toward breastfeeding and how it’s so important if you want a healthy child,” the Southern Californian woman wrote on her website The Fed is Best Foundation.
“Landon was on my breast all of the time. The lactation consultants would come in and see that ‘he had a great latch and was doing fine’.”
Mrs Johnson said she was encouraged to exclusively breastfeed and was closely monitored by nurses, lactation consultant and doctors.
“If I had given him just one bottle, he would still be alive.
“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'.”
The mother said only one lactation consultant mentioned she might have a problem producing milk because of the hormone imbalances caused by polycystic ovary syndrome, and recommended some herbs to help once discharged.
Landon was sent some at less than three days old, despite losing 9.7 per cent of his birth weight.
Just 12 hours later, he went into cardiac arrest. His parents found him unconscious, blue and without a pulse. He was rushed back to hospital where he received CPR and was put on life support.
That’s where Mrs Johnston learned her baby boy suffered a wide-spread brain injury due to severe dehydration, because she wasn't producing milk.
The new parents made the difficult decision to switch off Landon’s life support 15 days later, on March 15, 2012.
The woman, who admitted she still suffered from guilt and regret, has publicly shared her story in hopes “no other family ever experiences the loss that we have”.
“Life isn't the same after losing a child,” she told US TV program The Doctors.
“There's a huge hole in my heart, all because we trusted everything that we were taught - that exclusively breastfeeding is best thing for a baby.
“His death was 100 percent preventable. There is no reason that he shouldn't be here today other than we were failed.”
She developed The Fed is Best Foundation to educate other women that breastfeeding isn’t always best.
Mrs Johnston her husband Jarrod have since had two daughters, Stella, aged three and Aliona, one. She said the family still celebrated Landon's birthday each year with a cupcake and by singing Happy Birthday to him.