I can’t believe this is already the last week of the ‘Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt’.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the wide and varied entries. I hope you found the information and support you needed.
I decided at the very beginning that I would write about ‘Allergies’ as it seems that parents are often left alone in their quest to find support if they have an allergic baby.
The most common problems I come across in my breastfeeding cafes and clinics are: Eczema, sleep problems, constant cough and/or ear infections and green mucous stools; in rare cases the baby is not gaining weight.
The most common allergen is cow’s milk, therefore if you are breastfeeding and nothing you have tried has worked, try to exclude all cow’s milk from your diet which also means things like ‘Whey’ or ‘Casein’……sorry label reading is going to be a requirement for this. It is amazing in which products you will discover cow’s milk. It also needs to be done for at least 2 weeks, as it takes a while for your body to get rid of the protein in your body.
And by the way, if you are formula feeding – there are formulas, where the protein that causes the allergy has been changed. They don’t taste great, but if your baby is suffering with e.g. eczema it is definitely worth a try. Problem is that your Health care provider might not put those two together (formula and eczema that is), so it will be for you to point out this possibility.
Karen Zeretzke (http://www.llli.org/nb/nbjulaug98p100.html) lists 58 different symptoms as possible sign for an allergy. How do you know if the signs your baby displays are a sign for an allergy or something else?
Sadly you don’t. It is trial and error – a detective game – which can stretch you to your limits if the symptoms are severe.
London has 2 hospitals who deal specifically with allergies; sometimes it helps to get your child tested, as they can have several allergies and there is just so much ‘being a detective’ anyone can cope with. You will need a referral from your GP as far as I am aware. But you can always call and ask them what their procedure is.
For some reason allergies are often not thought of – So it falls to you as a parent to read around, try things out and see what it is you need.
Now let’s get back to breastfeeding.
So is there a point to breastfeed if something you eat can still trigger an allergy or your baby will get one anyway?
Yes – breastfeeding protects your baby from the allergens by putting a protective layer on the gut walls, which means the allergens can’t get through that easily. This is especially important until the middle of the first year, when the big holes in the babies gut close down (that’s why the start of weaning has been changed to 6 month) and with that the baby is less vulnerable.
Even after 6 month every breastfeed counts. So don't believe if people say that your milk is not good enough anymore. It is. Breast milk has always everything your baby/child needs (it even adapts to your babies needs e.g. when the baby starts crawling, there will be more antibodies in your milk as your baby is now encountering more germs) and during the first year solids are just a fun way of experimenting with different tastes and textures - the main calorie intake is still via your milk.
In my experience children with allergies will often avoid the food that causes them trouble (don’t ask me how they know) and they start solids later – some of them avoid solids well after they have turned one year old. Therefore you might be breastfeeding a lot longer then you have planned and will give your child an amazing gift by doing so.
Overall I can just encourage you to trust your instincts – you know your baby best. If you think there might be an allergy that causes all the problems, stick it out. Get yourself some support by talking to a Breastfeeding Counsellor or Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).
If you don’t speak up for your baby who will?
Please feel free to add your thoughts and comments :-)
Lactation Consultant IBCLC and La Leche League Breastfeeding Counsellor
Other websites you might find interesting:
Dispelling breastfeeding myth: http://www.mythnomore.blogspot.co.uk/
The secret life of Kate: http://www.thesecretlifeofkate.blogspot.co.uk/
Ponderings of a Doula: http://www.betterbirthing.blog.com/
Smiling like sunshine: http://www.smilinglikesunshine1.blogspot.co.uk