Being a #freefrom Parent: #3 Kathryn
Monday, 27 February 2017
As you know, Mikey has multiple food allergies and I write quite a bit about how we cope and deal with them as a free from family.
I thought that it would be great to share other parents' stories of their children and what it is like Being a #freefrom Parent.
Today, Kathryn shares her story......
At just five days old Millie was re-admitted to hospital with breathing difficulties. One of the first paediatricians who saw her during her week long stay in hospital suggested that she may have a dairy allergy and if I wanted to continue breastfeeding I should cut dairy from my diet. I myself had also been allergic to cows milk as a baby and still have a slight intolerance if I have too much so I thought there was a strong chance Millie could well have inherited it from me.
All through my pregnancy I had been determined to breastfeed and decided that giving up dairy would not get in my way. So from the very early weeks I started to cut dairy from my diet. Millie however continued being sick after every feed, she suffered from severe reflux, was constantly sneezing, had swollen puffy eyes and within minutes of starting to feed needed a nappy change. It wasn't until a very helpful and knowledgeable health visitor saw us at our eight week appointment that Millie was officially diagnosed as having a CMPA (cows milk protein allergy).
I thought having an intolerance myself I was fully aware of what I had to change in my diet to cut dairy and continue breastfeeding but I started to read more around the subject and didn't realise just how many every day things contained dairy or soya (I also was advised to go soya free as well, as the protein in soya is very similar to cows milk protein and many babies also react to this). I could no longer have white bread, gravy granules and of course dairy milk chocolate to name but a few. My diet was going to need a complete overhaul! It was at this point the mummy guilt started to kick in, despite being advised to go dairy free I had continued to eat things that could have caused my baby to react! I still remained determined to continue breastfeeding and knew I was more than happy to make sacrifices in my diet for the health of my tiny little girl. From that point on I made sure I checked every ingredient in every single item I bought to make sure there was no "hidden dairy".
When Millie got to around 4 months old her vomiting had improved slightly but she still struggled with reflux which proved extremely challenging and brought about a whole host of extra considerations, raising one end of her cot so she didn't lie flat, keeping her held upright for at least 20 minutes after every feed to help the milk digest, no long journeys in the car in case she started choking on the acid... It was already a pretty stressful time for our family as we hated seeing her suffer. I also was beginning to blame myself every time Millie had a particularly bad day with sickness, I was still breastfeeding and started constantly questioning everything I had eaten, checking and rechecking every ingredient in case I had missed something. Then I began asking myself was I doing the right thing breastfeeding, although all the benefits I was passing on to my daughter through my breast milk were wonderful and a huge boost for her was I causing her to suffer each time she was sick after a feed? I spent hours trying to research the answer to this question and one day it all just got on top of me. Millie had started to lose weight and at her weekly weight check I broke down to our health visitor explaining I just didn't know what to do for the best, if I should look at switching to formula. She again was brilliant and suggested I try a prescription formula called Neocate which had all of the proteins fully broken down and wouldn't cause a reaction. She told me to let my husband feed Millie the occasional bottle just to give me a break. She could clearly see I was struggling with tiredness from a baby who didn't sleep and from the pressure I was putting myself under blaming myself if she had a bad day.
Over the course of the next month we slowly introduced more and more formula bottles until at five months I gave up breastfeeding completely. Looking back I know I made the right decision for both me and my daughter at the time. Now, with a clear mind it's unlikely my diet was to blame for her bad days as I was so careful with what I ate and I'm so pleased I managed to give it my best shot!
Millie is now 9 months old and we are right in the thick of weaning. This has been another challenge in Millie's dairy free journey. It can be hard when we go out for the day with our baby friends and they are all sharing lunch but Millie can't take part or if there's nothing on the menu Millie can join in with us eating. We now always remember to take some "safe" food with is just in case. We have also had to take weaning very slowly trying just one new food at a time in case of any reactions but Millie is doing really well and is starting to really enjoy being involved in our family meal times. Thankfully at around 6 months old Millie started to outgrow her reflux and she now no longer even needs any medication for her symptoms. She is doing so well we are about to start her on the soya ladder where soya is introduced slowly in different forms into her diet. I'm feeling a little nervous about this but fingers crossed she will respond as well to this as she has to all the other challenges she has faced so far in her little life.
The one main thing I have learnt from our free from journey so far is that although it's tough and sometimes you can feel isolated with little support from the medical profession, we as parents do the best we possibly can for our children and any decisions we make are with their best interests at heart.
Kathryn is a new blogger and writes over at Mummy's Little Lists, where she shares her experiences, lifestyle and personal preferences and free from recipes all in list form!
Are you a #freefrom Parent? If you would like to share your story on Being a #freefrom Parent, please get in touch!
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