A woman who refused to let nurses teach her how to breastfeed allegedly suffocated her 15-day-old baby to death because she breastfed him while lying down.
According to Today Online, the Singaporean mother, who had a Caesarean section on 17th August 2018, told the nurses at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) that she remembered how to breastfeed as she had breastfed her firstborn child before.
The mother said she learnt two breastfeeding methods in KKH after giving birth for the first time – tucking the baby under her arm like a football, and lying on the mattress side by side with the baby.
The nurses had observed her breastfeeding and decided that she was doing a good job, but often times, they would have to take the baby from the woman because she would fall asleep with the baby in her arms while breastfeeding.
After returning home, the mother would breastfeed her new baby about six to seven times a day on average, but her husband wouldn’t be with them as he was busy taking care of their daughter.
On 1st September, when the baby was just 15 days old, the woman had to wake up in the middle of the night to breastfeed the crying boy. She used the side-lying method, which was the first time she had done so during a night feeding.
She placed him on her bed on her left and fed him using her left breast while her left arm was stretched out above her head underneath the pillow. She then fell asleep for about an hour and woke up when her husband got up to use the toilet.
She moved her left hand to lift her son, but realised there were vomit and bloodstains on the baby’s swaddling cloth. The baby’s face had turned pale and vomit was found on his cheeks as well as a bloodstain at his right nostril.
She immediately called an ambulance that came and took the baby to Sengkang General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 5am. This was after failed resuscitation efforts on the baby, who had gone into a critical condition and was not breathing.
An associate consultant forensic pathologist with the Health Sciences Authority said that it was possible the baby had suffocated when his mother fell asleep while breastfeeding him, however, she could not prove it as suffocation “may not be associated with any physical findings”.
“An infant could be suffocated when his nose and mouth is obstructed by pillows, bedding material or other people,” she said.
Meanwhile, the senior nurse manager at KKH, Ms Teo, said that she does not encourage mothers to breastfeed using the side-lying method as a relaxing hormone, oxytocin, is released during breastfeeding.
“As some mothers recovering from surgical wounds may find this method more comfortable, it is important for another person to be there to put the baby back in the cot if the mother falls asleep,” she said.
If you’re a breastfeeding mum or if you know someone who breastfeeds their baby, remember not to use the side-lying method without someone there to monitor you.