When your Baby is Allergic to Your Breastmilk

storage bags filled with breastmilk - when your baby is allergic to your breastmilk

You could bounce a quarter off my boobs right now. Actually, if you did that, I might judo-chop you as I begin to cry and clutch my jugs like they’re going to burst.

I am in the process of letting my milk dry up. This is a personal choice I made and my now 7-month-old drinks only formula. We breastfed like champions. He latched in the OR and it was smooth sailing from there. We took #brelfies and did the Tree of Life pics. But, at around 4 months old his diapers were mainly full of slimy pea soup-esque sludge.

 

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The dairy allergy diagnosis

They tested this goop at his four-month appointment and it tested positive for blood. BLOOD! Just ducky. The doctor went on to explain that the #1 culprit is dairy and that I should do an elimination diet. As my mind was trying to process this, another thought dawned on me and I couldn’t hold back the tears. I locked eyes with the doctor as she sympathetically said, “I know.”

Somehow, she had read my mind and knew that I had a deep freezer full of hundreds of ounces of breast milk that I had been stockpiling day and night like a crazed dairy-farming-fromager since his birth. I was hysterical.

 

The unexpected side-effect of going dairy-free

Now, if you don’t have any experience reading labels or doing an elimination diet let me sum it up for you: EVERYTHING HAS FLIPPING DAIRY IN IT. Ok, maybe not everything but a lot of stuff and especially stuff that you’re going to miss the hell out of, like butter, yogurt, cheese, sour cream, muffins, donuts, cookies, ice cream, cake, and chocolate.

So, I embarked on my dairy-free quest. Needless to say, this was stressful and demolished my milk supply. Going out to eat was a huge pain, and I caught some serious shade from eavesdroppers. Ordering my salad with no cheese, no croutons, vinaigrette on the side… “Oh, Mrs. Suburbia over here… bet she’s a vegan, too. Anything else, Princess?”

To counteract my tanking supply, I started eating oatmeal every day, taking Fenugreek, and drinking Lactation Tea. I squeezed in an extra pumping session at work and pumped three times a day. I was able to get a few bags of milk stored up.

Then, by 6 months, my baby was sleeping better and had started eating some pureed foods. This affected my milk supply yet AGAIN and now I was barely making enough for his bottles the following day. When transferring my milk, I would tap the collection bottles making sure I got every last drop….Like an addict.

One time, I accidentally knocked over a bottle and spilled an ounce on the counter in our break kitchen. My coworker walked in on me crying with mascara running down my face and cussing profusely. He said nothing, did an about-face, and walked out. We still haven’t talked about it.

 

Enter the world of formula

I had to do something to supplement since my boobs had decided to become like two lazy old ladies swinging on a porch swing. Because of the dairy intolerance, we are limited to a few kinds of formula and even those formulas still have milk in them. We started on Nutramigen and I began supplementing and mixing it in with my milk. It takes weeks to get dairy out of your system so he was still symptomatic.

I had scheduled an appointment with my provider whom I have known for many years and admitted to her that I was afraid that I may be experiencing PPD. While telling her my symptoms and listening to her talk about my options, breastfeeding came up and before I knew it, I was crying my eyes out telling her how TIRED I was of having to deal with it.

Her response was simple. “Why don’t you just STOP?” I stammered back that “I couldn’t… because I had to feed him… that it was my motherly duty… that I felt guilty for even considering stopping…”

She said, “Well, it seems to be stressing you out and causing you a lot of anxiety.”

By validating my feelings and saying that seven months for a working mom is awesome and that I had done a good job, kind of gave me “permission” to stop and to let go of my guilt.

 

The perks of weaning

The next few days, I decreased my pumping and nursing and prepared to stop over a weekend so I could see what I would be dealing with. Seven days later, I am barely making any milk. Since the baby transitioned completely to formula, his rash is gone and his poop is great. I can go back to eating and drinking anything I want and do not have to worry about how many ounces I am producing. I can leave the house longer and can sleep more since my husband can now feed him.

I no longer feel stressed out and depressed. The baby and I were both ready to be done with this chapter in our story. Both our bodies were telling us so. Seven months was a good run and my baby and I shared that time and the benefits from it.

Breastfeeding is not for everyone and there are many emotions and factors that play into every situation. I am proud to be able to have both perspectives of a breastfeeding AND formula feeding mama.  #fedisbest and you do you.

 

Our next recos:

Food Allergies and the Importance of Early Introduction

I Packed Up the Pump – For Both of Us

The CDC Wants You to Get Serious About Cleaning Your Breast Pump

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When your Baby is Allergic to Your Breastmilk

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5 Comments

  • I’m in the thick of this now. Mine is allergic to dairy, soy, and wheat and all but the one last resort formula. But it all depends on how much research you do and how good you are at reading labels. The pediatricians are not equipped to give you the best guidance on how to avoid the allergens. Yes, my baby is supplemented with formula but that is because I travel for long stretches and can’t get a large enough stash. Do I like that he is supplemented….nope. Does my baby like that he is supplemented…absolutely not. But we deal with it and both of us look forward to the next nursing session. So yes you do what works best for you and baby. And for us that means momma avoids lots of food since soy is in everything more so than dairy…ie your meat is fed soy, so guess what, you can’t eat that unless it’s grassfed. I rather have a happy baby than one screaming in pain and providing allergen free breast milk to give baby a chance of getting over the allergy. Happy thriving baby is best through whatever route works for you. Be strong allergy mommas you can do more than you realize.

  • I had a similar situation with my son. It’s nice to know we aren’t in it alone. I wish we could be better about giving ourselves permission to do what’s best for us and our children no matter what society says.
    #fedisbest

    Momma tip: I know how expensive nutramigen can be. I had my doctor write a prescription and my insurance paid for it.

  • I’m so sorry you had to go through that and I appreciate you sharing your story. I too have a baby that suffers from food issues through my milk. This may be semantics, but a true allergy to breast milk is incredibly rare; your baby isn’t allergic to your milk, but rather has food sensitivies/intolerances/allergies to what you consume that then passes through your milk. For so many babies, even formula is rough because they have a dairy and soy intolerance, as well as a laundry list of other foods. A true allergy to breast milk is life threatening and diagnosed in the early days of life.

    • I hear ya and you’re totally right. The original title was “Crying Over Spilt Milk” but I retitled it in the hopes that mothers googling “can my baby be allergic to my breast milk” will find it. Hopefully, it will put a few moms on the right trail of food sensitivities.

  • The allergy mama life is tough. My son is allergic to dairy, soy, eggs, wheat, corn, rye, legumes and all meats. I had to rebuild my stash a bunch of times because we had eliminated more allergens but I donated it to other intolerant/allergic babies and that helped me feel less bad about it

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