It goes without saying that breastfeeding can be extremely difficult for some parents. If you Google "breastfeeding" and "complications" you'll be directed to a ton of articles on everything from latching issues to treating sore nipples, for example. One common breastfeeding complication that isn't as often discussed, however, are the dangers associated with not producing enough breast milk. When this problem occurs, babies are at risk for dehydration, which is exactly what this mom's baby almost died from three years ago. The mom is now coming forward with her story so other parents don't miss the important signs of dehydration caused by low milk supply.
Deseray Valdez, a mom in Texas, was enjoying life at home with her newborn son when she noticed something off about his coloring. Although Valdez's son had passed his first check-up without any issues, he later developed a troubling yellow tinge to his skin, according to KRGV.
Understandably concerned, Valdez rushed her infant to a local hospital, and he was immediately admitted to the Intensive Care Unit for dehydration and starvation, according to KRGV. Doctors explained to Valdez that she was only producing an ounce of milk, according to Cafe Mom, and that's what led to her son's critical condition.
After a few days spent in the ICU, Valdez's son, who is now 3 years old and completely healthy, was given the OK to go home. Valdez said of the frightening and eye-opening experience, according to KRGV:
You’re always told here that breastfeeding is best. You’re a mom, it’s natural that the milk is going to drop. You’re going to have enough milk to provide for your baby. It was not the case on any of my three babies.
Although it might be difficult for some parents to think that this frightening situation could happen to them, it's actually a very common problem. Dr. Marianne Neifert, a pediatrician and co-founder of The Lactation Program in Denver, told Fit Pregnancy that common causes of low milk supply include, but are not limited to, "previous breast surgeries, insufficient mammary tissue and thyroid or other hormonal disorders." Other potential causes can be attributed to exhaustion and complications during delivery.
Unfortunately, it might not always be apparent that your breast milk is on the low side. Feeling your breasts for fullness and timing the length of your feedings are not adequate ways to check for low milk supply, according to What To Expect. Therefore, it's very important that you monitor your baby very closely, all the way from how they're pooping to how they're swallowing your milk.
The most obvious sign of low milk supply is your baby's weight, according to Belly Belly. If your child is not gaining weight within the first four to six days post-delivery, you might want to consult your pediatrician. Additionally, if your baby's urine isn't light yellow or close to colorless, they might be dehydrated. Light-colored urine is a telltale sign of adequate hydration, according to Prevention.
Another place to look for signs of dehydration is your infant's poop. Although it might not be fun to analyze your kid's feces, it could end up saving their life. So, if you're changing "at least five diapers daily filled with large, seedy, mustard-colored poops," then your baby is likely in need of more milk, according to What To Expect.
If your baby's diapers look OK, however, pay attention to the way in which they feed. If they're "gulping and swallowing during feedings," this is a good sign, according to What To Expect. If your baby is completely quiet when you breastfeed, you might want to find out why.
As for the yellow coloring Valdez noticed on her son, doctors attributed that to jaundice caused by the dehydration, according to KRGV. Of course, it's best that a baby's case of dehydration is noticed before it leads to jaundice. Some commons signs to look for, according to Baby Center, are: "dry skin or lips, tearless crying, lethargy and drowsiness, rapid breathing, and cold and blotchy-looking hands and feet."
If you're concerned that your baby might be suffering from dehydration, you should consult your doctor or trusted health professional as soon as possible. Even if you think you might be overreacting, it's always best to be cautious in these types of situations.
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