This post was written by Kristen, DDL contributor.
Why am I telling you this? Because 3 months ago, I was told by my daughter’s pediatrician that in order to keep breastfeeding my 5 day old baby, Suriah, I would need to cut all dairy, eggs, soy, nuts and seafood out of my diet.
I had no idea what was left to eat!!!
It really wasn’t a laughing matter though. At only 4 days old, I was changing Suriah’s poopy diaper, only to discover that it wasn’t poopy…it was blood. I calmly called the on call doctor, who told me to save the diaper and bring her in the next day. (How I managed to not rush her to the ER is beyond me!). Before I was able to bring her in the next day, she had about 5 more blood-filled-diapers. At the doctor’s office it was confirmed that it was in fact blood (I had been hoping I was wrong of course) and that because Suriah appeared otherwise healthy, it was most likely due to a severe allergy. Whatever she was allergic to was actually causing her intestines to bleed.
After consulting with a pediatric gastroenterologist, it was decided that if I wanted to continue to breastfeed, I would need to seriously change my diet. And if I chose to not breastfeed, then Suriah would need to be placed on a very expensive, prescription-only formula that is just amino acids. Her pediatrician told me that it was healthiest for Suriah to get breastmilk and advised that changing my diet was the best thing for her if I could really stick to it. Breastfeeding my first child didn’t work out as I had hoped because she needed to be supplemented with formula and other problems led to me drying up at 5 months, so before Suriah was born, I was determined to exclusively breastfeed her. I had been planning and preparing and mentally working on the idea of breastfeeding in public…and then I was told that I needed to change my diet so drastically that I honestly didn’t even know what I would be able to eat anymore. Oh…and did I mention that I already had a weird diet? Yeah, I haven’t eaten red meat in about 20 years and I don’t eat any meat off the bone. I’m really not a big meat eater.
Lets sum that all up…
*pretty much no meat
What the heck is left?!?!
When I got home, I realized that even my bread had milk in it! Giving up dairy was going to be the hardest sacrifice, especially when I realized that dairy was hidden in a lot of other things as well. But I was dedicated. It definitely tested my dedication to breastfeeding. In fact, I had a few friends tell me that they would just switch over to the formula…that it wasn’t worth it to sacrifice so much just to breastfeed. Even my own family was not supportive of me breastfeeding at this point. But I did have some friends who supported me and also helped me figure out some things I could eat. And the fact that the special formula cost $50 for a 14oz can was also a huge motivator to continue to breastfeed as well. Plus, I had some serious issues with her latch and went through a tough time getting adjusted to breastfeeding…there was some serious cracking and bleeding nipples going on! I called La Leche League and visited a lactation consultant…and continued to try to figure out what I could eat.
At 8 weeks, Suriah’s pediatrician allowed me to try to work something back into my diet. She didn’t want me to choose dairy, so we started with soy, as that gave me many more options of what I could add into my diet. Over the course of the next few weeks, I had to take soy out of my diet again, but then was able to work it back in. Now that Suriah is 3.5 months old, I am happily also able to eat nuts and seafood as well. It seems that her severe reaction was most likely caused by a protein allergy to dairy and eggs. Right now I am not sure how long I will have to go without dairy or eggs, but it’s possible that she may have the allergy forever because her reaction was so severe.
Having to sacrifice so much in my diet, especially some of the things I love most (I consider myself an ice cream and cheese connoisseur), has definitely made breastfeeding much harder…but it’s also made it more rewarding, and as an added bonus, I feel really proud of myself for being able to exclusively breastfeed my daughter for over 3 months and to watch her thrive and grow because of my milk. Breastfeeding isn’t easy. It’s hard in so many ways, especially when it doesn’t go as smoothly as you plan, but it’s worth it. It’s worth not having a big glass of milk with my oreos, or milk in my cereal, some smoked gouda cheese or some of the Guinness ice cream at the new ice cream shop in town (who wouldn’t want to try that!?!?!)…because I know that I am giving my daughter the best nourishment I can, regardless of the sacrifice I have to make everyday. I love exclusively breastfeeding more than I ever thought I would…but I also can’t wait to try some of that Guinness ice cream some day!