Grieving mum pleads with others to be careful

Baby John Abernathy.
Baby John Abernathy. Photo: Facebook/Kristin Hoffmann

Like all newborn babies, John Thomas Michael Abernathy was the apple of his mother's eye. Clearly besotted by her newborn son, Kristin Hoffmann shared beautiful moments on social media like any proud parent.

Then, while breastfeeding John in bed one night when he was 8 weeks old, Kristin fell asleep – something so many of us have done. But in this case, Kristin awoke to find John unconscious and, despite efforts to resuscitate him, John's brain had been deprived of oxygen for too long, and he died.

Understandably devastated, Kristin is sharing her story in the hope she will save other mums from going through such heartbreak.

Kristin with baby John shortly after his birth.
Kristin with baby John shortly after his birth. Photo: Facebook/Kristin Hoffmann

"WARNING: It greatly pains me and shames me that this happened but I have to ask you all to please share and spread the word," wrote Kristin on her Facebook page. "No matter how tired you are as a mother, GET UP AND GO TO A CHAIR or somewhere you won't fall asleep when you feed your child at night.

"My precious son slipped off my breast and into the covers of my bed early Sunday morning and into heaven. The way we discovered him was a tragedy and I don't want to hear [it has happened] to anyone else."

Kristin appreciated the comments of love and support she received after posting her story.

"Thank you all so much for your prayers," she wrote.

"I went to a woman's prayer retreat today and broke down walls for God to truly heal my heart and mind."

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It's impossible to imagine the heartbreak Kristin following the loss of baby John.

The first time mum was simply doing what generations of women have done before her when things went horribly wrong.

According to the Australian Breastfeeding Association, mothers wishing to breastfeed their baby in bed should ensure they follow strict guidelines to reduce any risk of harm.

"Many parents find it easier to breastfeed at night while sharing a bed with their baby," advice from the ABA reads. 

"When sharing a bed with her baby, a breastfeeding mother tends to form a protective 'C' shape around her baby and tends to respond very well to her baby's needs." 

However parents should not allow their baby in their bed if: 

  • you are unusually tired, to a point where you would find it hard to respond to your baby.
  • your baby was born very small or premature, particularly during the first few months.
  • you or your parnter are smokers, or have consumed any alcohol or sleep-inducing medication.