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Media Release: La Leche League International Offers Support for Mothers Concerning Dehydration and Inadeqaute Milk Supply

SCHAUMBURG, IL (October 14, 1998) - An episode of Chicago Hope, a CBS television show, airing October 21, 1998, portrays the death of a breastfed infant from dehydration due to an inadequacy of the mother's milk supply. While these cases can occur in real life as a result of poor breastfeeding management, they are completely preventable. Every mother planning to breastfeed her baby should receive information and support from a breastfeeding professional prior to the baby's birth. There should also be an assessment made of how well the baby is breastfeeding before the mother and baby are released from the hospital. La Leche League mother-to-mother support groups or lactation consultants are available to answer questions regarding establishing and maintaining an adequate milk supply.

Every mother should know the signs that prove her baby is receiving enough milk:

  • The baby nurses frequently, averaging at least 8-12 feedings per 24-hour period.
  • The mother should listen to be sure she can hear the baby swallow as he/she is breastfeeding.
  • The baby will have, after the third day of life, 6-8 very wet cloth diapers or 5-6 wet disposable diapers as well as 2-5 bowel movements per day.
  • The baby should gain at least 4-7 ounces per week after the fourth day of life.
  • The baby will be alert and active, appear healthy, have good color, firm skin, and will be growing in length and head circumference.

It is important to breastfeed frequently, whenever the baby is hungry. It is not recommended to feed the baby on a set schedule. Both breasts should be offered at each feeding and the baby should be allowed to nurse until he/she shows signs of being satisfied. In the event the baby is not gaining well, is losing weight, or is lethargic, immediately contact your baby's health care provider. Do not wait.

La Leche League International concurs with the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines on breastfeeding which recommend: "Mothers breastfeed for at least the first year of life and as long as is mutually desired."

Founded in 1956, La Leche League International's mission is to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through support, encouragement, education, and information, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of baby and mother. Local La Leche League Leaders are available to answer questions and give assistance to breastfeeding mothers in communities throughout the United States as well as 65 other countries around the world. Call 1-800-LALECHE for more information or for a referral to a local La Leche League Leader.

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