Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gluten and dairy and soy...oh my!

OK. So, this month could be wrapped up in two words when it comes to breastfeeding and motherhood, "I'm STARVING!" OK. A bit dramatic but also totally true at times. My now 4 month old has had bloody stools off and on since about 8 weeks old and has never had the yellow, seedy breast baby poop. Once the blood appeared his doctor and I decided to pull dairy out of my diet and see if it improves. This also means you just need to pull soy most of the time because if they react to milk proteins they usually react to soy as well. So there went dairy and soy. I explained it to my husband, who is a former right-handed quarterback, like for me without butter is like you trying to throw a football with your left hand. Then, he got it.=) I am a southern, casserole-making cook WHEN I cook.
A quick science lesson:
Lactose intolerance is an inability to digest lactose (a milk sugar) due to a lack of the enzyme lactase. This is actually pretty rare in infants and there are varying degrees. Milk protein allergy is an auto-immune response to the proteins in milk (casein). This is an allergy. There is a huge difference. To my knowledge the only formula without any milk protein is Neocate, which costs a fortune. If a baby can tolerate Nutramagen and Alimentum they should be able to tolerate breast milk. In theory they should actually get less casein from Mom's milk because her body will process it first before it ever gets to the infant. So, when you hear babies can't breastfeed because they are "lactose intolerant" that is PROBABLY not totally accurate, although rarely it could. Most likely it is a milk allergy and the breastfeeding relationship can be salvaged if Mom is willing to change her diet.
So, after a diet change things should improve, right? Well, not so. On to gluten. There is a condition known as gluten intolerance, which is not yet well understood and then there is Celiac's disease, which is an autoimmune condition that would never change for this little person. Trying to decide which a baby has makes my brain hurt and is definitely a job for a good pediatric gastroenterologist. The baby would need to be screened for Celiac's and you may not truly know how bad the condition is until the baby tries to actually eat gluten (usually oatmeal is first.)
This has been a trying time for me to do some soul searching about how much I can stand to sacrifice for the cause of maintaining breastfeeding for my little guy. I think all of the struggles I have experienced nursing just help me extend compassion to other moms when they feel like quitting. It also motivates me at the same time to keep going because I know when the "dust settles" from one challenge and I get to enjoy nursing again the reward is inexplicable joy. MOST breastfeeding problems really work their way out in some time. Having patience is just so so hard and even more so when coupled with pain, stress, exhaustion and sacrifice!
Many moms have gone before me in the allergy dilemma and thanks to them they have given some very good advice. Below are some blogs with recipes and resources for moms breastfeeding babies with milk protein and/or gluten allergies:
Hope this helps if anyone else is dealing with this issue. Let me know and add in your 2 cents and any resources you can share!
Oh yeah - and I basically live off of Larabars, rice cakes, almond butter, almond milk, baked potatoes, salad, and produce. may help! =)


  1. Hey girl! I found a bread at the grocery store that we can have! It's made by a company called udi's. They have loaf bread and bagels that are dairy, soy, and gluten free. They're in the frozen section (I shop at Publix) but with the organic food, not the frozen bread. They're not too cheap, but I think it's worth it to have some sort of a normal diet again! I also eat some cookies from a company called Enjoy Life. They are free from all the common allergens and they are in the regular organic section of the grocery store. The same company makes snack bars as well. Hope that helps! :)

    Jen Waldrop

  2. Hey Erica!

    Sorry to hear about your troubles. My BFF is a vegan and has been such for about 2 years. She suggested you add pasta to your diet. There are good options at Earth Fare.