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Nursing Moms: Exclusive Breastfeeding May Not Be for Everyone [VIDEO]

Update Date: Mar 13, 2017 07:01 AM EDT

For nearly three decades, breastfeeding has been promoted in the United States especially in "baby-friendly" hospitals. Breastfeeding became the norm because of the many health benefits associated with it, which include lower rates of diabetes, infections, diarrhea and Sudden Death Infant Syndrome.

Last year, one out of five of newborns in the US are breastfed. That is 81 percent from the mere 25 percent back in 1971. According to the Huffington Post, the UNICEF-lead worldwide campaign was initially intended to address high infant mortality rates in developing countries because they lack access to clean water and infant formulas.

While American parents, in general, have access to both, the "breast is best" mantra still continues. There are, however, extremely rare cases when mothers did not produce enough colostrum, a mother's first breast milk, which can cause the newborn to be undernourished and become dehydrated. One such case is Jillian Johnson's.

The non-profit Fed is Best Foundation published Johnson's story, who said she felt pressured to breastfeed her firstborn, Landon. Landon was born five years ago. He became dehydrated and went into cardiac arrest because of accidental starvation, 12 hours after they were sent home.

Landon spent two weeks before he died. The mother did not know she underfed her baby and Johnson is still struggling with his loss until today.

The People reported that dehydration is common among newborn babies. It is critical for parents and healthcare providers monitor the infants.

Dr. Philippe S. Friedlich, Director, Center for Fetal and Neonatal Medicine and Chief of the Division of Neonatology at Children's Hospital Los Angeles said that babies who do not get enough nutrition are at risk of becoming dehydrated. Without medical attention, this can cause organ and brain damage that can eventually lead to cardiac arrest.

Dr. Friedlich said simple indicators to track proper feeding in infants include weight measurements and wet diapers after feeding. A dry diaper after 12 hours is an indication that something is wrong.

The doctor also added that infants should have regular sleep cycles. They also should not be crying constantly. Co-founder of Fed is Best and NICU nurse Jody Segrave-Daly agrees that these are two major signs to watch to make sure babies are getting proper nutrition.

Segrave-Daly also added constant crying after near constant feeding are signs of starvation and deep sleep means infants are trying to conserve energy.

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