A Global Pandemic Can’t Stop This Breastfeeding Superhero!

by Dr. Stephanie Canale - Lactation Lab founder


We’re honoring a breastfeeding superhero for World Breastfeeding Week.  

Tessa is a frontline paramedic who delivered a healthy baby boy on February 16th just as the global COVID-19 pandemic was spreading to the USA.  Her husband happens to be a firefighter / paramedic who has been working 24-hour shifts during the stressful months following the outbreak.

Despite arriving three weeks early, their son weighed in at over 8lbs at birth!  However, he quickly dropped 10% of his birth weight and fell to the 1% of the growth chart. Tessa was making frequent visits to her pediatrician due to concerns about weight gain. Moms and their doctors want to see babies gain weight because it is such a strong indicator of infant health. 

While Tessa was generally healthy, she had very little appetite after delivery and had trouble consuming many calories while breastfeeding. She was just not hungry and could only stomach 1-2 meals a day.  She was so desperate  to see her child gain weight that she even purchased her own scale for home to use and started doing weighted feeds. In the process, she was recording every drop of input and output. 

When her pediatrician recommended that she try formula, Tessa did some research, found Lactation Lab and decided to have her milk tested first. Her results indicated that the caloric density of her milk was 15.4 kcal/oz, compared to an average in formula of 20 kcal/oz. Her son was only gaining 0.5 oz/day and she was feeling pressured to start formula and start fattening her child up!

She decided to follow Lactation Lab’s recommendations to modify her diet.  If the calorie content of her milk improved, she would exclusively breastfeed, but if it did not, she would supplement with formula.  She worked hard on maintaining her new diet for a month and retested her milk with Lactation Lab.  Her milk’s new caloric level was 24 kcal/oz and her baby was finally gaining weight!  This was all the motivation she needed to continue her breastfeeding journey. 

We wanted to celebrate Tessa’s accomplishment for several reasons:

  • Breastfeeding can be really hard -- more difficult than giving birth for some moms!
  • Moms can get discouraged when there is little data or guidance about why their breast fed baby isn’t gaining weight.
  • Testing her milk can reduce a mom’s anxiety and help encourage her to continue breastfeeding. Tessa said it best herself, “If it were not for this test, we would have introduced formula.” 

While this story is not meant to be anti-formula (we believe a fed baby is best), we do want to highlight one woman's struggle to continue on her breastfeeding journey and how we were able to help.  Congratulations, Tessa!  We wish you and your son a healthy future!

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