Sometimes… Breastfeeding Isn’t Best

I met Alexa on a message board of other mothers in my local area, and have been extremely moved by what her newborn daughter has gone through in the past week, and I wanted to write about it. It all started with suspected baby acne and turned into a week long stay in the pediatric ICU.

With a newborn photography session booked, Alexa posted a picture of little Abby’s face and asked everyone if it looked like baby acne, and what she could do to clear it up. A little cream recommendations, a couple recommendations to use breast milk on the acne, and the typical advice to another Mom. After a trip to the pediatrician for little Abby’s 2 week well baby check up, it was determined that the suspected acne was not acne at all, but a staph infection. Alexa was heartbroken as any parent would be. A two week old newborn with a staph infection on her face.

Abby was able to go home for the night, and had to return to the pediatrician in the morning to see what call they would make, but at that point in time it looked like a minimum of two days in the NICU with IV antibiotics at the least. On top of the normal parental worry, having a little baby so uncomfortable is just never fun.

The next day Alexa checked in from the hospital sharing that Abby was in the Pediatric unit because of staph being an infectious disease, they could not put little Abby in the NICU. With an IV in place, and antibiotics going, and a culture out for testing, Mom and baby could only wait.

And waiting with a newborn that sick, is something a mother just never wants to do.  Abby started to then react to Alexa’s breast milk. Not tolerating it, screaming, not eating, and it didn’t get any better. So now we have a sick baby, a breastfeeding issue, and a worried mother who is starting to feel like a failure because of the breastfeeding issue.  Talk about a huge kick when you are down.

As her rash got worse, they switched Abby over to special formula, and Mom cut out all dairy products out of her diet for fear of a serious milk protein allergy.

Then the cultures started to come back.

Not a fungal rash, not a staph infection, not a simple milk protein allergy, but a severe milk protein allergy. The rash had started to get worse when Alexa took the advice of other mothers and used some breast milk on Abby’s face.  Essentially she was poisoning her baby not only from the inside, but also from the outside. And she was heartbroken.

As I read the story, I remembered the difficulty I had with my second son. Five weeks old before we figured out he was allergic to my milk after a million and two dietary changes and restrictions. There was nothing we could do but switch to formula no matter how heartbreaking it was, or no matter how much I wanted to breastfeed. And here I was… after almost two full years of the guilt playing on me as a mother, I was watching another mother go through exactly what I did, expect at a much more scary and severe nature, especially with the hospital stay.

While Abby is finally home now, the damage has been done, not only to Abby, but also to her mother.

I am a very big breastfeeding advocate, I always have been, and always will continue to be, but there are some cases where we cannot say that breast is best because of these situations.

Tagged as: ,

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, profile photo and other personal information you make public on Facebook (e.g., school, work, current city, age) will appear with your comment. Learn More.