breastfeeding · Milk Allergy

Surviving the Milk Allergy

A friend of mine recently posted that she had just left the doctors with news that her extremely fussy 6-week baby girl had a milk allergy.  I’ve seen these posts on Facebook happening more frequently and I’m not sure if it’s just because I’m paying more attention or there is truly an increase in this allergy being diagnosed.

It seems like just yesterday I was walking out of the doctors with both carriers and rather upset hysterical, calling Zach and telling him I couldn’t eat ice cream.

I had two preemies who were by no means sleeping more than 2 hours at a time (if I was lucky), were supposed to be on Neosure (milk-based formula specifically for preemies) 2x per day, one who would randomly stop breathing on a frequent basis… are you getting the picture? It wasn’t pretty.  I was stressed and exhausted.

I took the girls in after a scary diaper full of blood (we didn’t realize that’s what it was at the time until they tested it).  They explained that Piper was so allergic that basically her poor little intestines were bleeding and inflamed… which would explain why she was hysterical after feedings and rather fussy most of the time.  Although Lila’s allergy wasn’t AS bad, it was enough to show up with smaller traces of blood in her stool.

milk allergy.jpg

There are two options at this point.  Use Alimentum (Similac’s formula specifically for babies with a milk allergy) or you change your diet.

I had so much guilt at the time: the girls were so tiny, they came so early, I felt like it was my job to still nurse, and really, I wasn’t ready to give up on breastfeeding.

If you aren’t familiar, a ‘milk allergy’ in babies means that they are allergic to the PROTEINS in milk.  This isn’t a lactose intolerance, or that they’re allergic to my milk… they are allergic to the proteins in milk.  To make it even more interesting, your body breaks down the protein in soy the same way, which means that in Piper’s case, she was also allergic to soy.

The doctor told me that because Piper was having this significant of a reaction, that if I chose to nurse, I was going to need to cut out all dairy and all soy.  Some women/babies are able to get away with just cutting out dairy… not this mama.

I scoured the internet and blogs and found Jess over at Dairy Free for Baby.  She gave me a jumpstart on recipes and kind of eased my worries about whether or not I would survive.  I think it was sleep deprivation but I literally thought I was going to die.

For those of you mamas who do choose to breastfeed throughout this journey, trust me, YOU. CAN. DO. IT.  If you need any support, PLEASE do NOT hesitate to contact me and I can be your personal cheer leader 🙂

Here’s some quick lists I wish I would have known at the beginning:

Dairy and Soy Free Foods (please make sure you check all ingredients for yourself as labels and ingredients change on an on-going basis):
Homemade Bread (buns and sandwich bread)
Canyon Bakehouse Breads (all kinds of breads, bagels)
– Eggs
– Cheerios
– Fritos
Garlic Expressions (I used this as marinade and salad dressing and found it at our local grocer)
– Silk Almond Milk or Almond Breeze Original
– Earth Balance Soy Free Butter (this stuff is the next best thing when you can’t have butter… I used it to cook with, spread it on bread, etc.)
Shakeology (I needed extra protein with nursing the girls and it gave me one solid meal where I knew I would be getting good nutrition.  The regular flavors are whey (no-no with the allergy) but the vegan options are dairy and soy free! Bonus: some insurance companies are now covering this as preventative care)
– Ortega Taco Kits for Tw0 (why normal taco shells and every other kit has soy, I’m not sure… but these don’t!)
SO Delicious Cashew Milk Iced Cream (I never liked the almond milk iced cream but this stuff?? Holy moly.  It’s delish)

While you can totally control what you put in your food at home, one of the hardest things was going out to eat at restaurants.  Especially at the beginning, I would wind up eating lettuce with vinegar because even the oil was soybean oil. Gross.

Accommodating Restaurants (I highly suggest asking to speak to a manager when you arrive to make sure they are aware of the allergy)
– Bonefish Grill
– Wendy’s
– Chili’s
– Applebee’s

Know This:
– You can do this.  It is hard, but you can do it.
– You will constantly be checking labels… but you will find foods that will become your staples.
– Olive oil, coconut oil and corn oil will be your new best friend
– You will slip up.  Try not to, but you’re not perfect and you’re more than likely not sleeping…
– This isn’t your fault.
– They might grow out of it.

At 9 months, we were able to reintroduce soy back in to their diets and hallelujah, they did fine!! There was some adjusting, but no bleeding!!! We did this by introducting 1 soy-based formula bottle to their day for 2 weeks. When we got the clear, we switched that bottle to a milk-based formula and seriously, praise God, they were okay!! Again, some adjusting was needed, but no bleeding!

This mommin’ thing is hard. Throw in two babies, sleepless nights, and a FOOD ALLERGY in.. throw a temper tantrum, but then put on those big girl panties because it’s gettin real and you’re gonna kill it!!

xoxo,

Lindsey

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