Inside: Does your baby have a milk allergy? Nursing a baby with dairy sensitivity may be difficult, but it’s not impossible! Use these tips to breastfeed your baby with confidence!
I’m thrilled to have Sable Trappenburg sharing a guest post on the blog today! Sable is the mom of two boys under two. Previously a marketing executive, she now fills her time with writing, making creative toddler lunches, doing family yoga, and raising two kind humans. Connect with Sable on Magical Mommies!
There was a night around the time my youngest baby turned 6 weeks old that I will never forget — three hours of non-stop screaming! Maddox had been screaming for about an hour when I started to pack a bag for the hospital.
My husband made me take a walk around the block even though it was 11 PM. He saw the crazy in my eyes and knew I needed a break before I broke.
I mean, one human can only endure a screaming crying baby with no relief for so long. I meditated on my walk and really contemplated how I would be able to console a baby who was inconsolable? I felt like a horrible mom! I wasn’t sure I had it in me.
Upon my return my husband said Maddox had pooped and that’s when I realized after seeing the blood in his diaper that he had a dairy intolerance!
I spent about a week of feeling insanely guilty and endless skin to skin with my poor baby.
I then started to feel bad for myself that I would need to spend my days reading every label for everything, give up my weekly Starbucks because of possible cross contamination, and forget going out to eat anytime soon because no restaurant can promise their utensils have never touched dairy.
Not to mention, I paid my dues and did nursed a baby with a milk allergy with my first child for 15 months! But, here I am again, an old pro at this no dairy thing.
So how does a mama survive an already challenging situation complicated by dairy restrictions? Here’s some tips from a mama who’s been there and is doing it a second time around.
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10 Tips to Breastfeed a Baby with Milk Allergy
Tip #1: Consult Your Pediatrician
If you suspect your baby has a cow milk protein allergy or intolerance, consult your pediatrician immediately. I am only here to share my experience and although I have seen every Grey’s Anatomy episode, I am no doctor.
So for me the symptoms that indicated an allergy were:
- Firm belly
- Crying inconsolably
- Extreme gas with no relief
- Stiffness and arching back, could not get comfortable no matter what position
- Difficulty swallowing
- Hives and eczema
- Green, mucousy, blood poop
- Bad diaper rash
Tip #2: Grieve
There is definitely a healthy grieving period that needs to take place. I suggest talking it out with your husband or partner. Get it all out there, all the “it’s not fair” and “you get to eat pizza and I have to eat cardboard.” For me, word vomit is like an exorcism and it has to happen before I can move on.
Tip #3: Be thankful you have an answer!
I was so grateful that Maddox’s screaming fits would come to an end and there was an explanation to them and it wasn’t that I was a horrible mom!
Having an answer and a solution is a wonderful place to be! I felt so blessed that we weren’t dealing with anything serious. Now, I know there’s varying degrees of a milk protein allergy so I am not undermining any mama dealing with the extremes! I commend you!
Tip # 4: Start a Breastfeeding Elimination Diet
I immediately cut out all dairy, soy and eggs since that is what my first born was allergic to. Even though I read every label and I am extra cautious when I do grab a smoothie or coffee at a restaurant, there are days when we have flare ups for what seems like no reason.
So much of trying to navigate this allergy is like being a detective and trying to pin point those flare ups to tie them back to something. A breastfeeding elimination diet will help you find the cause! After I had cut everything out, Maddox still had some minor symptoms (mucousy poops, eczema flareups, trouble swallowing).
By keeping a good food log we were able to tie it back to sunflower oil. Keeping the food log is an extra step but I usually do it every night when my family is asleep.
Tip # 5: Find your Favs
Luckily it’s 2019 and there are SO many amazing vegan options out there. Creating your milk protein allergy breastfeeding diet doesn’t have to be overwhelming! Trader Joe’s has an amazing vegan selection. Wegmans, Aldi’s, and Whole Foods also have some great vegan selections.
Finding products that you like and trust will take some time but once you get in your groove it will make things easier!
I wish I could share with you all my favorite vegan products and recipes but that’s for another day (if you’re interested check out our blog for updates). Oh and do yourself a favor and go get these vegan cookies right this second because you deserve them!
Tip # 6: Join a Support Group
I follow a dairy free breastfeeding support group on Facebook. I also consult with a midwife, two doula friends and another mama who is breastfeeding a milk protein allergy babe.
You will need help — even if it’s just to vent about how hard this is, it’s great to do that with people who are also going through the same thing and understand what you’re going through. The support group I am part of is super helpful too because a lot of mama’s will post recipes, dinner inspirations, food items that are safe and food items that are not safe for a milk protein allergy breastfeeding diet .
I found this amazing chocolate hummus through this group that I eat every night! I also get great inspiration on a variety of foods that are safe to eat from these mamas because I often find myself just eating chips and guacamole because I know it’s safe. Which leads me to my next tip…
Tip #7: Get Creative!
It’s scary at first to try new things when you’ve finally gotten to being detoxed from dairy but as long as you read the labels you should be fine! I find myself getting into a bad habit of eating the same thing everyday and then I started having migraines, my doctor told me I am malnourished because I don’t eat enough variety!
It is really hard to mix it up when it feels like everything you eat has an affect on your baby but do it for yourselves mamas. I love refried beans and although Maddox isn’t allergic they do give him some gas, but with so many restrictions on what I can eat already, I try not to limit myself to much more, especially due to just a little gas!
Tip #8: Be Kind to Yourself
Mistakes and slip ups will happen. I was halfway into a burger the other day and realized I hadn’t looked at the label of the bun and sure enough, MILK ingredient #3. It was a rough night with Maddox wanting to nurse every hour and a week of green mucousy poops but in the grand scheme of things he was okay.
I’m not saying go out and eat a tub of ice cream but when slip ups happen as long as your baby is thriving you will all survive a few cranky nights…dairy allergy or not, every baby has some cranky nights!
Tip #9: Celebrate Every Month!
This is hard mamas. Really hard. Breastfeeding is hard enough to begin with, adding another complicated layer to the mix feels impossible. But you are doing it and you will survive.
You will eat pizza with real cheese once again (FYI, my favorite dairy free cheese is from Trader Joes) and you will be able to enjoy a Starbucks lattee worry free one day real soon!
Until then, reward yourself every month your baby gets older and potentially/hopefully closer to outgrowing this allergy!
Tip: Every month we take our babies milestone pictures alongside some junk food and afterwards my husband and I both go to town!
Tip #10: And Know When to Call It…
I am a 100% breastfeeding advocate and believe in supporting mamas to nourish their babies in any way possible. But only you know when you’ve reached your limit.
It’s true what they say, fed is best. And if at any point you feel like your own health/sanity is compromised too much, at least you gave it your all! And be super proud of that!
Just know that you are not alone mama, there are lots of other moms out there who have done this and made it out on the other side so seek out help and advice whenever needed. Women are incredibly strong! We were made for this and I believe in you. You go, mama!
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