How I Fought to Breastfeed my Baby with a Dairy/Soy Allergy

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When I had my second baby boy, Kellen, I felt like the three years of parenting I had under my belt had prepared me for being a mom again. I said a lot of “this time I will …” to myself. I knew what I wanted to do differently and I set out from day one with that plan. I am a working mom who had convictions about breastfeeding. I felt like it was something I could offer my children. I understand that not everyone agrees with that and you will receive absolutely no judgment from me if you choose otherwise, but it was something I wanted to do.

I breastfed our first son, Brody for a year. It wasn’t easy. I couldn’t stand hearing other mom’s talk about how easy or beautiful it was. That was never the case with me. It was hard, hard work and it was awkward in every sense of the word. I had mastitis twice as well as lots of other issues. But I kept trying and for one solid year – even after I went back to work – he was breastfed.

When Kellen came, I was determined to offer him the same advantage. At first I thought he had colic and honestly, I kept thinking, “Man I didn’t know how easy I had it with Brody – he never cried unless he was hungry, sleepy, or needed a diaper change …” After about 6 weeks, I knew that something else was the problem. We went in for a check-up and the doctor said he wanted to test him for a dairy allergy. The test came back positive for both dairy and a soy allergies in seconds. This sent my world spinning into circles. I ate cheese on everything! I had no idea where to look, or what to do to clean up my diet. I didn’t even believe that I was capable of making such a change.

Thankfully, one of my closest friends was a lactation consultant and another close friend was a health coach and nutritionist. They both helped me as much as they could. I did some research but in the end it came down to a lot of trial and error and listening to my gut. I tapped into what I was comfortable with and did my best to listen to my baby. I picked up on his moods and reactions. As a mom, you notice these things and I just kept it all written down. I decided to do whatever I could to my diet that would help Kellen benefit the most and allow him to still be exclusively breastfed. My husband was my partner in this journey. He supported me all the way and did whatever I needed to make it all happen. I could not have done this without his support and encouragement.

I didn’t have any friends who had experienced this type of thing and immediately I knew that I wanted to walk with other women who were going through the same thing and encourage them to through the process. It was a hard time for us. I look back now and I am so proud of how we dug in and what provided for Kellen.

I should say, that I am not a doctor – not even close. I am a girl from WV who works in the music industry but more importantly, I am a mom to two boys and one of them needed me to provide for him like only a momma can! The insight I want to offer is only what worked for us. For what it is worth, here are some of my suggestions for navigating this season of life. But remember this: no amount of research can replace the response from your baby.

First, and I believe most importantly, decide what works for your family.

It may be that making these types of changes will be so difficult on you emotionally and physically that it takes a toll on your marriage or your parenting. What comes first is your baby and your sanity. You can’t parent well if your body/mind are not in agreement. And I will also say that as parents you MUST take this journey together. Having the encouragement on the hard days made all the difference for us. Hearing my husband tell me how proud he was of our hard work made me want to keep fighting for the ability to offer this to our son. Making these diet changes can cost money as the food you buy is generally organic and you won’t be going out to eat with your friends {or you will need to take your Tupperware along full of healthy, organic food}. You will also need to be on the same page financially since organic food can be expensive. Remember though that breast feeding saves money when you aren’t buying formula every week!

Secondly, find a doctor that will support you in this journey.

We did the standard pediatrician search with our first son and we snagged a pretty good one {Nashville moms connect with me and I’ll give you a referral!} We established a great relationship through the first three years of our oldest son’s life so when Kellen was born our doctor went above and beyond to help us figure out the problem, but more than anything he was supportive of what we wanted to do. He gave us the encouragement to keep going but also gave us the grace to know that he understood this would be hard. He kept telling us he couldn’t do this for his kids.  At every appointment he offered grace and support for whatever we wanted to keep doing, and he was patient with all my questions and concerns.

Finally, start reading labels.

Understand that IF you make the decision to go down this road, breaking the rules every now and then for a Starbucks IS NOT an option. You won’t be able to tell what works if you aren’t eating a strict diet. You must know what you are putting in your body and monitor how it is affecting your baby.

I rounded up several food items that I knew worked for me and created a menu. Here are some suggestions and tips from things I learned. You may have some too and please share those here for other moms to benefit. I find that mom’s who work together are pretty unstoppable and it is always a win for their kids!

Tips and Sample Food Items for Breastfeeding with a Dairy/Soy Allergy

{Keep in mind that I avoided dairy and soy.}

  • You are actually avoiding the CASEIN protein in dairy so look for labels that say dairy free or no Casein.
  • Caramel coloring can have that same effect as dairy so avoiding this helps too.
  • Always cook with extra virgin olive oil only. NEVER USE Canola Oil or PAM type products.
  • Meat should always be organic if possible.
  • Never buy sliced meat from the grocery store. It is cut using the same machine they use to cut cheese – just to be safe!
  • If you are dairy free only, try sun butter rather than peanut butter. It’s a great alternative.
  • It is important that you drink a lot of water. This obviously helps you with producing milk BUT it also keeps you from getting kidney stones on your new diet. You should always be hydrating!

Breakfast

  • Eggs {cooked in extra virgin olive oil}
  • Steel Cut Oats
  • UDI’s brand Muffins
  • Pancakes {you can find mix in the organic section that are whole wheat and free of dairy and soy}. A great syrup option is available in the organic section as well.
  • SO Delicious makes a great coconut milk and creamer for your coffee. You can also try almond milk. That just tasted dry to me. Coconut milk had a great flavor, which I began to crave. They also make a yogurt you can try.
  • Applegate Farms makes a sausage I enjoyed and ate a ton of!
  • UDI’s also makes a dairy and soy free bread that you can use with organic jelly.

Lunch

  • If you are dairy free only this is a great time to try sun butter and you can put that on Ezekiel Bread.
  • I also really enjoyed Applegate Farms hotdogs. I would eat them with a vegetable or fruit.
  • I started making my own vegetable soup that was the perfect recipe and it would work for lunch and dinner. I would use the roast I made from dinner {see below} to put in the soup.
  • Applegate Farms also makes meats you can try. Make sure to check the label for Casein free and soy free if you need that too.
  • I also found Ian’s brand chicken nuggets and fish to be a great option. I would pair them with a fruit or veggie.

Dinner

  • I made a roast on Sunday’s with just organic meat cooked in water. It was perfect and very tender. I would eat it with mashed potatoes made with coconut milk and a little salt and pepper.
  • We would eat the vegetable soup I created for dinner too.
  • Believe it or not you can actually have spaghetti – there is a Healthy Harvest pasta that worked for me and I found a brand of organic sauce that worked too. The sauce was a Kroger brand I believe. I would eat this for dinner and then lunch the next day.
  • I would cook organic chicken and pair it with a veggie. I started to really like roasted potatoes and carrots cooked simply in the extra virgin olive oil.

Snacks

  • Whole Foods carries a dairy/soy free pudding that is really good.
  • Banana chips are a great, easy snack.
  • I ate lots of fruits – grapes, etc.

Brands To Look For
{Not all products or Casein or Soy free but double check as it outlines it at the end of the ingredients.}

  • Applegate Farms
  • Alexia
  • Food Tastes Good
  • Ian’s
  • SO Delicious
  • UDI’s
  • Ezekiel Bread – mostly dairy free but not soy free

Baby Food
When it was time for Kellen to have big boy food we started with the Beechnut brand. He did the oatmeal mixed with breast milk and then moved into the jar foods. When he had real people food he ate what I did according to what was appropriate!

The Finish Line!

After nine almost 10 months of this diet, we tested Kellen’s diaper and he was not showing any signs of the allergy. I started coming off of the diet by adding soy back first and then dairy. Slowly but surely I noticed he was not being affected and once the diaper test confirmed it we moved him onto big boy food that didn’t have restrictions.

Remember that the benefit of this new diet is also that you will feel great! You are eating all healthy things. The baby weight you may not have lost will start to fall off. You will have great skin, too  But more importantly you will have the peace of mind that you are doing ALL you can do to help your child. Reach out to other momma’s who have walked this same road and also be a place where others can come to. Eventually, it will all come full circle and be a double blessing!

Have you dealt with a diary/soy or other allergy with your child? How did you handle breastfeeding or your child’s diet? What tips and encouragement can you offer other moms on a similar journey?

Jess Sig

About Jess Chambers

Jess Chambers juggles the best of both worlds on a daily basis … a family she adores and a job she loves (well, most days). Wife to Aaron and mom to two amazing, energetic little boys – Brody Rayf (3 ½) and Kellen Rhys (1), she aims daily to make the chaos look classy.

Comments

  1. Our son was allergic to milk and chocolate. It was strange to give up milk/dairy products when nursing. His GI upset was mostly relieved after about 6-8 weeks of this–he was them about 3 months old. However, he continued to throw-up until about 9 months, when he was getting more baby food. This didn’t seem to bother him and he growing/healthy. I smelled like spit up for 9 months because I couldn’t change and wash my clothes fast enough. I was fortunate to be a stay at home mom. I continued to nurse him for a total of 2 1/2 years because I wanted to–he gave it up at that point. However, he then drank goats’ milk until he was about 6 yrs old. I had support from La Leche League–this was almost 35 years ago.

  2. My daughter will be four months next week and has had severe diaper rash since three weeks old. I have been to our pediatrician about it multiple times with no success and a dermatologist once. Both have shown very little concern and acted as though I am overreacting. My daughter actually has sores on her bottom! I have switched to Pampers Sensitive wipes, tried cloth diapering, and used every cream available in hopes of clearing it up. At what age did you have your son tested for allergies? After reading your article, I am wondering if my daughter may have some sort of allergy and would like to have her tested. Thank you!!

    J. Jarnigan

    • Sorry, Jennifer, I am Just now reading this. Been a rough week for this working momma :) The dr. tested him at 6 weeks. I had no idea there even was such a thing as a test. I never knew it was even possible to be allergic to dairy and soy. He never had any type of rash – it was totally a digestive thing. Looking back at pictures from those early days I can even tell. He kept his knees bent up to his stomach.Never, ever laid straight and always had a fussy demeanor. So sorry your little one is going through that. What a good momma you are for doing all you can to find out what is causing that.

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