Triumphant Tuesday: Breastfeeding a Dairy Intolerant Baby


Most breastfed babies have no problems with anything their mother eats. Nursing moms can eat whatever they like, whenever they like, in the amounts that they like. However, whilst food sensitivities in breastfed babies are not nearly as common as many breastfeeding mothers have been led to think, one or two percent of babies will be inconvenienced with a dietary intolerance. This allergic reaction can go undiagnosed for weeks, even months, leading to chronic hardship for mother and baby. The condition may even get misdiagnosed as something completely different, as this week’s triumphant mom knows too well.

“He was a tricky baby. I call him ‘the lanky one’. After birth he was placed on my breast and the midwife helped him to feed.

Unhelpful hospital staff

With hindsight he didn’t feed at all on this occasion and the next day I couldn’t latch him. I was allowed to leave hospital without any feeding being established, even after I’d asked for help and been told that he’d be fine.

I was lucky that the midwife who came to visit me the following day was a breastfeeding specialist midwife. She’d run the antenatal breastfeeding class I’d been to. She took one look at me, bleeding, in obvious pain, and sent my husband to the chemist for some nipple shields. They worked wonders. I was able to feed my baby without pain… until I got mastitis, THAT was horrible.

At 10 days my Health Visitor came for the first time.  She asked how long I intended feeding for and my reply was as long as possible. Definitely to 6 months. The lanky one wasn’t looking so lanky by this point and hadn’t regained birth weight and was still pretty jaundiced. Coupled with the mastitis it was obvious that the shields were causing a problem. I owe my breastfeeding relationship with my firstborn to my Health Visitor; she enabled me to feed painfree without nipple shields within about 5 minutes.

Incompetent GP #1

Everything was great until about 3 weeks in. My baby was suddenly sick. A lot, and often. My GP told me that every baby was sick. Even now I have terrible guilt about this early GP visit. I didn’t feel listened to, I knew there was something wrong with my baby; other people’s babies weren’t so sick all the time surely?

Incompetent GP #2

We eventually saw a different GP just before Christmas. My baby was about 10 weeks old and diagnosed with reflux. The Infant Gaviscon didn’t really help so we were prescribed Gaviscon, Domperidone and Ranitidine.

Yet the sick continued and he also developed colic symptoms. My poor baby was sobbing every night and I couldn’t do anything about it. Evenings were spent with him on my chest until he finally succumbed to sleep. We were still breastfeeding though, often and throughout the night too.

Weight loss

Around 4 months he stopped gaining weight. Then started losing weight as he became more and more active. It was suggested we start him on solids but I declined.

Later, my HV talked to me about the possibility of the sickness and crying being symptoms of a dairy intolerance. It was the beginning of March 2008. He was 5 and a half months old.

A change

After I stopped having dairy in my diet we saw a massive difference in the lanky one’s general demeanor. He actually fell asleep when tired in the early evening, rather that crying for hours. He stopped being sick in his sleep and he started looking a lot healthier. Even more so when I stopped eating Soy too, I was willing to sacrifice my comfort for his. Who needs milky coffee, cheese, creme brulée even! What was important was that my son was happy and healthy, and he was.

My breastfeeding relationship with him was fraught with tears, worry and heart ache, but I’m glad to say that we came out the other side happy.”

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