How One Breastfeeding Mom Put Her Baby in Grave Danger

Don't try this at home. Just don't.

Breastfeeding on Strict Diet Iakov Filimonov/Shutterstock

It's no secret that good nutrition is paramount for growing babies—and for pregnant women and breastfeeding moms, the only way to ensure your baby is consuming the right things is by eating the right things. That's why one mom's story is truly terrifying. 

Here's what happened: A 33-year-old mother from Sydney, Australia, went to a naturopath after finding severe eczema on her son's body. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Marilyn Bodnar, the naturopath, advised the mother to switch to a raw food diet while breastfeeding her son, suggesting that this might clear up the problem.

At some point, Bodnar allegedly told the mother to assume a water-only diet, and she listened. She noticed her child steadily losing weight but kept up with the diet, sticking almost exclusively to water (she once modified the diet and had a bit of watermelon).

This proved to be as dangerous as it sounds: At 18 months, her son almost died. He was rushed to the hospital after he spent four days vomiting—and according to magistrate Ian Guy, the child would not have survived if he hadn't been treated.

This case did involve legal intervention: The mother escaped jail time after pleading guilty to the charges of failing to provide for her baby.

We understand that this case is very extreme, but it poses an interesting question: Should you ever modify your diet while breastfeeding?

Judith Campbell, R.N., a lactation consultant with the Children's National Health System weighed in on this issue. "When breastfeeding, mothers should drink fluids to thirst and eat a varied diet with enough calories to maintain a healthy weight themselves and to be able to produce milk," she told Fit Pregnancy. "While there will be differences among women due to health, climate and culture, it would be best to avoid extremes and to obtain support from your child’s health care provider, a dietician or lactation consultant when there are breastfeeding and diet concerns. Mothers' diets don’t have to be ‘perfect’ to make perfect milk, but whole foods make us all healthier than processed and fast foods. Following your care provider’s advice about adding complimentary foods at an appropriate age is important as well. Seeking support and double checking advice with trusted providers will help a child grow up stronger."

While we are so glad that this woman's child survived this horrific ordeal, we would certainly urge you to stick to a nutritious, well-balanced diet, especially while breastfeeding​.