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Breast milk is the meal of choice for newborns. It’s easier for babies to digest than formula and contains the perfect balance of nutrients for babies’ growing bodies. It also provides antibodies that boost a child’s immunity.
And while breastfeeding comes naturally to many women, that’s not always the case. Some women — and their babies — struggle with it. Maria Salas Quintero was one of them.
Maria knew the benefits of breastfeeding. The Cannon Falls, Minnesota, mother of three had breastfed her two older children, daughter Daniela (17) and son Joel (10). When her son, Joshua, was born on June 18, 2013, she began breastfeeding him, as well.
But after Maria brought Joshua home, mother’s intuition told her something was wrong.
“I knew something was wrong the day after I left the hospital because Joshua would not stop crying,” Maria says through a translator.
A public health nurse visited Maria’s home and discovered that Joshua had lost a concerning amount of weight. While all babies lose a small amount of weight immediately after birth, Joshua’s weight loss and lack of soiled diapers suggested that he was not getting enough food. The nurse suspected that Joshua was having difficulty getting enough milk from Salas Quintero’s breasts.
After consulting with Anne Beckman and Ann Warrington, the international board certified lactation consultants at Mayo Clinic Health System, Maria was taught a combination of techniques, including use of an electric breast pump, to ensure Joshua had an ample supply of breast milk. Maria followed the instructions.
Each day for a week, Joshua was weighed and his diapers were reviewed at Mayo Clinic Health System, the Goodhue County WIC office or at his home by a nurse who visited. With the extra breast milk and some additional formula, he steadily gained weight, which confirmed he was getting enough to eat. But his mother had another way of knowing her son was full.
“I knew he was getting what he needed because he was quiet and content,” says Maria. “I am so grateful for the teaching I received and for the people who came to my house to weigh Joshua. I don’t know what would have happened if they hadn’t come to my house, because it is difficult for me to find a ride to the clinic.”
Today, Joshua is doing well thanks to the efforts of his mother and the team of caregivers who helped her give him what he needed for a strong start in life.
“I’m very grateful for the concern and kindness I received,” says Maria.