Oh No, My Breastfed Baby Has Allergies!

The Modified and Restricted Diet Of A Breastfeeding Mum

My Breastfeeding Baby
My Beautiful Baby

I was once comically described as a ‘fat bird trapped inside a skinny birds body’! Whilst this description is unflattering, not to mention derogatory to all women (thanks btw!), you pretty much get the picture-I LOVE food! So, when I found out that my son had IgE mediated allergies to milk and peanuts, as well as a long list of intolerances, I was quietly devastated. I had been unwittingly fuelling his illness just by being a normal breastfeeding mum.

It was a shock more than anything. ‘How on Earth has he ended up with allergies?’ I kept asking myself. No-one in our families had issues with food and I’d been solely breastfeeding him so this just didn’t make any sense! It was so confusing at the time and the process of weaning, which, according to a number of websites, is supposed to be a fun and exciting process full of intriguing exploration and picture snapping of your babies best PopEye impressions, became a disjointed journey of trial and error, full of anxiety and fear.

Breastfeeding To Weaning

My beautiful and sweet baby boy had spent the first 6 months of his life suffering from reflux which prevented him from sleeping well, or even at all, at times. He vomited throughout the day, often curdled milk more than an hour after breastfeeding – truly delightful; he had diarrhoea that left his bottom incredibly sore or he went the complete opposite and screamed for days.  The eczema on his face was an unsightly constant reminder. At times, it was so bad that his cheeks were red raw and bleeding. It was as if I was living a nightmare watching my child suffer every day and every night and I felt like a failure; incapable of protecting him. Depression had now become deep rooted.

Unwell After Breastfeeding

Bay was 7 months old when we finally found out the cause of his illness. (However, it wasn’t until he was 1 that we discovered all of the harmful foods.)

I found myself struggling to cope with the juxtaposition of feeling utter relief yet submerged and drowning in guilt. However, I knew then that there was finally something that I could do to help him. I started restricting foods in my diet allowing me to continue breastfeeding safely.

Allergies and Breastfeeding

 

I normally would have consumed a very large bowl of cereal in the morning.  So the word ‘difficult’ was a bit of an understatement when it came to saying goodbye to the first meal of my day. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I could have exchanged it with some toast alongside a hot cup of tea. However, he was intolerant to wheat and the prospect of having a black tea didn’t quite cut it for me. We finally found a coconut milk with added calcium that was suitable and, although it was pretty disgusting to drink straight, we got used to eating a big bowl of coconut porridge each and every single day.

The hardest part of this new restricted diet was the serious lack of stodge (and chocolate and cake!). Within the first few days my energy and sugar levels must have dropped considerably. The happy calm me quickly turned into a grizzly unstable me, quick to react to the smallest of mole hills. At this time, I had an uneasy feeling of misgiving about my ability to succeed in this task. I still have a vivid memory of sitting slouched on the kitchen floor overwhelmed with the feelings of inadequacy and failure. I had cut out a number of vegetables, including potato, as well as the milk, nuts, wheat and rice, and I craved, I really craved, all the meals I was used to eating.

I didn’t know about the hypoallergenic milk formulas that were on the market at this point as I didn’t feel the need to research them. I had made a decision and a promise to myself when Bay was born that I would breastfeed him until he was at least 1 -an informed choice made on the numerous health benefits that breastfeeding has on an infant, and I wasn’t prepared to break this promise, not just yet anyway. Bay eventually went on to Neocate just before his first birthday. He susequently slept through the night for the first time at 14months – what a relief!

It wasn’t easy moderating my diet especially when everyone around me were eating the foods that I so desperately wanted.  Not being able to eat out was tough and at times (always when I was starving!) I didn’t have enough food in the house to cook something safe. However, within just 3 weeks, Bay’s eczema had cleared up, the vomiting has ceased and he started to sleep for 4hrs sometimes! Before this moment I couldn’t see the light of day and I couldn’t have imagined what life would be like having a normal healthy son (and sleep). It was amazing! Truly amazing!

Time To Celebrate
We Did It!

However, nothing was to prepare me for what happened next…

TBC

 

 

Mummuddlingthrough

16 thoughts on “Oh No, My Breastfed Baby Has Allergies!

  1. The birth of my second son proved as challenging as he was diagnosed with cow’s milk protein allergy, I too was breastfeeding and had a feeling something was not right very early in the journey. By six weeks I became very worried as he was not crying for food and would push himself of the breast after a couple of minutes. We too suffered projectile vomitting and mucas diahorrea. I tried to exclude foods from my diet in a bid to help but nothing was working and he was losing weight rapidly, that failing feeling quickly began to overtake me. After a consult with my amazing gp, we began to slowly eliminate possibilities of what could be wrong. As I waited to see a paed I continued to express and feed through a bottle as he seemed to tolerate this better and after a visit from a fantastic lactation nurse who suspected cow’s milk protein allergy we began to make some progress. Our lovely paed was also thinking protein allergy and was wrapped that the gp had eliminated so many other possible issues before we saw her. We discussed the option to continue breastfeeding and I was so relieved when she said to me “it is ok if you want to stop, you need to eliminate some stress and enjoy your baby”. I struggled with this notion as I had breastfed my first baby for 14 months but it was at this point I made the decision to stop. We put baby on neocate and were so pleased that night to see him drink a full bottle, we had only seen him drink very small amounts before that and he kept
    most of it in!! Success!! Things got better and better from then and by 20weeks he was sleeping through the night and eating like a champ!! He is now three years old and a most amazing little human being!! As a mum au have learnt you can’t be too hard on yourself, it is important to also put your needs as a priority not just your children, if you are stressed they will not see the best version of their mum!!

  2. Aw such a beautiful baby and this is a particularly relevant read for me today. My two year old is going to have allergy testing done soon due to eczema. He too had reflux problems and also very poor weight gain until he started solids. He continues to have digestive issues. I did several dairy and soya free trials whilst breastfeeding and as a dairy fiend this was a total nightmare! I can’t imagine going wheat free too. The only food I can definitely conclude is a trigger for him is bananas, the worst part about this is he loves them! I’ve been thinking about his diet a lot today because his digestive issues have flared up again. I’m just hoping the tests will give us some answers.

    1. Sorry to hear this, I hope you get some answers soon. It’s hard for our little ones to understand these issues isn’t it! Good luck xx

  3. I sometimes come across babies at work with similar symtpoms and through your experience, have been able to recognise these and advise their mothers to try elimination diets before giving up on breastfeeding- usually wheat and dairy to begin with but sometimes moving on to other food stuffs. The improvement in the babies’ health can be dramatic and a massive relief to their parents. Through your journey, I’ve been able to help them, in some small way ☺️

    1. This made me smile, thank you! I’m glad our rubbishy experience has been able to help others! 😁 It was surprising how many health professionals suggested I switched to formula – which would have actually been disastrous – so I’m even more glad that you have been able to support other breastfeeding mums even more! 👍

  4. Oh it must have been so tough on you & on your son too! Well done for cutting out the foods & continuing breastfeeding. It is hard to understand why he had so many allergies when there was no family history & you were breastfeeding. My second child had reflux & I was breastfeeding. I always think how much worse it would have been if he was bottle feeding. And the same goes for you too. You really did a great job! I’m so happy to hear that your son is sleeping & is healthy now. Yay!! x
    Becky, Cuddle Fairy recently posted…Blogger Club UK 25My Profile

    1. Thank you Becky! It was quite a journey and I’m so glad I managed to breastfeed for as long as I did. It would have been disastrous had I bottle fed him as a baby! I’m also glad he is growing out of his allergies and intolerances – it’s such a relief! Xx

  5. Goodness that must have been quite a journey and quite stressful at that. Motherhood sure knows how to throw us some curveballs. Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub lovely xx

  6.  Remember, always consult with your pediatrician regarding introducing solid foods to your baby and specifically discuss any foods that may pose allergy risks for your baby.

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