Friday, 25 January 2019

The End of Dairy Free Breastfeeding: My Experience

Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing to do if you can, for yourself and for your child. But lets face it, it can be hard. I was completely unsuccessful first time round with my son, who ended up being exclusively expressed breastfed. I remember the guilt I felt that it hadn't worked. The middle of the night crying sessions because he just wouldn't latch or from the stinging pain from mastitis when he did manage to. I remember thinking how can something so natural be so hard to do. So I didn't expect it to work with Matilda either. I was shocked and amazed at how easily breastfeeding came second time around. Maybe it was because I didn't put as much pressure on myself, or set myself too high an expectation, as I knew I could express breastfeed again if I needed to. Anyway, it worked and I couldn't have been more pleased.

Then, very quickly we discovered Matilda was allergic to cows milk protein and thus began our dairy free breastfeeding journey. To read more about my experience of dairy free breastfeeding, click here.

One of the main reasons I decided to dairy free breast feed, on top of the usual benefits of breastfeeding, was because it gave me a sense of control and also the reassurance that so long as I stayed cautious and did not ingest any dairy, Matilda would be a perfectly healthy baby. This was a very comforting thought. I did not have to worry about trusting anyone else for my daughters safety and wellbeing.

The second reason I choose to dairy free breastfeed was that if Matilda could not have the usual standard formula, what would she be putting into her body? I wasn't aware of my options at this point and I hated the idea of her having something over processed or synthetic at such an early age.

So I breastfeed happily for just short of 6 months. But it was challenging, my three year old really struggled with the amount of time it took, becoming extremely jealous every time she fed, and juggling two young children was difficult. I remember being at the park with my friend and her young children when Matilda needed fed. I got myself comfy and watched happily as my son slide down the slide, shrieking with excitement. This is perfect...or so I thought! I was awoken from my blissful illusion by my three year old shrieking 'Mummy I need a poo!' At this moment, I have to point out it had been five days since his last bowel movement as he had suddenly developed a fear of them and would not go to the toilet. I couldn't believe his timing. My friend was a superhero that day, she whisked out a portable potty from under her pushchair and set it up for me. He quickly moved the potty to where he was most comfortable and sat down to do his business. Unfortunately, where he decided he would be most comfortable was at the bottom of the slide. In a very busy park! Great. I knew he would be there for sometime, so I sat myself down on the muddy, hard floor of the park next to him, Matilda still attached to my breast while they both saw to their basic needs. I looked up at my friend and we both laughed. You just could not write this stuff. The glamourous life of being a mother.

We were also about to embark on an exciting trip to Italy for my Mum's 60th Birthday. I had dreamed about going to Italy since I was a young girl and I was really looking forward to it. I knew it probably would have been easier to continue breastfeeding whilst travelling, all you need to take with you is your breasts after all, but I was really concerned that I would not be able to guarantee what I was eating was dairy free. I was, after all, going to the land of pizza, fresh pasta and gelato.

So I discussed the  breastfeeding challenges I was facing with my Health Visitor and decided to see my GP about the formula options for children with a cows milk protein allergy. (For more information about formula options click here). My doctor wrote me a prescription for Nutramigen and I collected it from my local pharmacy and took it home.

The Nutramigen sat in a cupboard in our kitchen for ages. I was still deciding. I would have endless conversations with my husband about whether it was the right decision. What if I stop breastfeeding and she has an allergic reaction? Once my milk is gone it would be so difficult and painful to get back, or so my Health Visitor informed me. Was I being a selfish, bad mother for not continuing? It weighed heavy on my mind night after night.

In the end, I decided I would go ahead and try combination feeding. That way Matilda could have a couple of bottles in the middle of the day, when I was out and about (I didn't want any pooing in the park repeats!) and I could breastfeed her the rest of the time. This also meant that I could give Matilda formula while we were away in Italy and just 'pump and dump,' while we were there to keep my supply going and protect against any unintentional ingested milk incodents. Unfortunately, the Nutramigen did not agree with Matilda and her symptoms came back immediately. Which since, I have found out is very uncommon. So we were moved on to Neocate LCP which agreed with her much better and happily began our combination feeding journey.

However, my joy at finding what felt like the perfect combination for us, didn't last long. Although lots of people have success using combination feeding, my body did not respond well to it and I noticed my milk supply was dwindling. Matilda was getting frustrated while breastfeeding and would be on and off me like a yo yo all night. Feeling comforted about the fact Matilda was responding well to the Neocate and that my son was feeling more included and enjoyed feeding her a bottle, I decided, after a few more nights of debating with my husband, it was time to end my dairy free breastfeeding journey.

I was sad about it ending and there are times when I do miss it, but when I look at Matilda happy and healthy and look at my son finally enjoying having a baby sister, I know I made the right decision for our family at the time.

Only you can decide when to stop dairy free breastfeeding. You may feel sad and you will worry, but you are not a bad mother because of it. Do what is best for you and your family. We will not judge you what ever you decide.

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The End of Dairy Free Breastfeeding: My Experience

Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing to do if you can, for yourself and for your child. But lets face it, it can be hard. I was completely u...