Caitlin’s (Dairy Free) Breastfeeding Journey

So you hear all too often that breastfeeding isn’t easy and that you just have to be patient. All of this is so true but it is hard to explain since each of us have a different reason as to why it’s difficult.

At a glance, my breastfeeding experience seems very easy. My son, despite being a premie, took to breastfeeding better than most NICU nurses had ever seen. My supply was unheard of for a first time mom. Within a month, I had over 300 oz of ‘liquid gold’ in our freezer. I did have a let down issue on one side but it was quickly resolved with a nipple shield and as Luca got older he seamlessly switched back to the nipple without pause. I exclusively nursed him until he was just over a year old. So from that perspective, it was a walk in the park. So easy.

But something was off. After a couple weeks of being home, Luca would scream uncontrollably for hours in the evening/nights. He was gassy, maybe that? But aren’t all babies gassy? I talked to the pediatrician about the possibility of my diet causing the gas and he laughed. Told me that after all the processing our body does that the food would not cause Luca problems. So I was at a loss.  Maybe colic?

I wasn’t okay with that answer. I had to find a cure to whatever was going on. I took to the internet and found that a large number of women found that eating dairy would cause major GI issues in their children. I didn’t want this to be the answer because, well, cheese. But holding that defenseless, hurting baby, I knew I would do anything to stop his obvious discomfort. So I cut dairy for two weeks. It was hard. I cried everyday the first week because I was starving but felt like I couldn’t eat anything (dairy is in EVERYTHING- salt and pepper potato chips for example!)

Within days of cutting dairy, Luca had stopped crying at night and was significantly less fussy during the day. No way, that this wasn’t the dairy! So I tested it. After two weeks, I returned to my normal, cheesy filled, diet. Within hours he was fussing while nursing, that night he had a bad (green) diaper, and by the second day he was screaming all night again. It was clear I was cutting dairy for the foreseeable future.

That earlier summary about why my journey seemed so easy was gone. For just a few things- I now had to completely change how I ate. Eating out seemed impossible, and I had over 300 oz of frozen milk that I could no longer use. But while it was hard, and discouraging, we had found a solution! And Luca was finally feeling better! I couldn’t ask for a better outcome. Well… one that included cheese would have been better but, oh well, whatever it takes, right?

So the point of this whole post, is to tell you that you know your body and that precious baby better than anyone else. Don’t let anyone tell you that something is normal if you don’t think it is. Personally, I don’t believe ‘colic’ is real. After my experience, I very much believe it is a food intolerance that is not being addressed. Do your own research, experiment, and advocate for your child/yourself. But don’t let anyone make you feel stupid. That pediatrician laughed at me, made me feel stupid, and spoke down to me on multiple occasions. I questioned myself and that isn’t what you need when you’re taking care of a newborn.

I learned a lot over the (almost) year that I was dairy free and I do want to share all that with you just in case you are in the same boat. However, I think that deserves its own post! So I’ll start working on that immediately because if I could start over, with the knowledge I have now, I could have avoided a lot of frustration and a lot of mistakes.

But I also want to say that if you just realized that your baby has an issue with something you’re eating then you have to do what is best for you. If you need to switch to formula instead of cutting it from your diet then that is fine! Fed is best, and you have to take care of yourself too.

You’re doing a great job momma. Whatever is going on. Be patient with yourself and that sweet baby. It will all work itself out. And I’m here if you have any questions! Never hesitate to contact us via the website or Instagram DMs!

Check out Jamie’s breastfeeding journey and her tips for breastfeeding while working here!

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