Friday, 29 March 2019

5 Tips to Survive Dairy Free Breastfeeding

Recently I was asked how I managed to survive dairy free breastfeeding for as long as I did, after discovering Matilda had a Cow Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA) early on. As a mum you do whatever it takes to give your baby what they need, even if it means making some sacrifices yourself. Whether you plan on dairy free breastfeeding for two weeks or two years and beyond, the five tips below should hopefully help you on your dairy free breastfeeding journey. 

1. Establish a good support at home and online.

If you are going to give up dairy for your child's health, it helps to surround yourself with people who are understanding and supportive. That means surrounding yourself with those that won't keep offering you that slice of chocolate cake because 'surely a little bit can't hurt?' Well as you know, it does, and you need your family and friends around you to understand and accept that. In addition to having supportive family and friends, it helps to seek support online as well, either through support groups and forums or online social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You will soon find yourself overwhelmed by the number of mums going through the same experience as you and reading the success stories from those that have come out the other end, will provide the encouragement and hope you need to stay positive on those extra tough days. Instagram has a large community of 'Allergy Mums,' who you can lean on for support and inspiration. For example @cmpamum is a good Instagram account to follow as its documents a real mum's journey as she breastfeeds her son with CMPA. She tells you as it is, sharing the ups and the downs, which is refreshing in this world of filters and glossy, picture perfect instagram accounts. She also shares a lot of dairy free food options for yourself and your little one which is really useful for finding new dairy free products to try. Don't forget we are also on Instagram, just follow @growingupdairyfree for all our updates, including meal inspiration and dairy free products.

2. Stay can do this!

I know it is easier said than done, but stay strong. Don't let people pressure you into giving up dairy free breastfeeding until you feel ready to do so. You may have already found people saying to you, don't bother going dairy free, just switch to formula, it will be so much easier. If that is what you want, than go for it but if you want to carry on breastfeeding than stick to it, you don't have to give up. As someone who has done both, each have their challenges, you need to do what you feel the most comfortable with and not let other people's negativity get inside your head. When the time is right to stop for both you and your child, you will just get a feeling that the time is right. In the mean time, enjoy the close connection it brings, the calm moments amongst the chaos. You can read about my experience of when I decided to stop dairy free breastfeeding by clicking here.

3. Share your knowledge of CMPA.

Not only is it important to learn as much as you can about a Cows Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA), it is important that you also share that new knowledge with the people around you. How will others know what it means unless you tell them? If friends and family understand what it means to have a child with CMPA, they will be more understanding and hopefully you won't feel pressured into giving up breastfeeding or be given food products containing dairy when you visit for family dinners or lunch dates with friends. Help them understand the difference between an allergy and an intolerance, so they know the difference it can make. Click here to read Intolerance Vs Allergy for more information on the subject.

4. Learn your dairy free swaps.

Everyone has different tastes so you need to find what works for you. Thankfully with the rise of veganism, the number of dairy free products is widening constantly. In fact you will soon find there are lots of choices and you can find a dairy free version of almost anything (Check out my Quick Dairy Free Shopping Guide for some options to get you started). Make sure you choose a fortified milk alternative to help keep your calcium levels up. The closest I found for a good cup of tea was Oatly whole combined with PG Dairy Free teabags and Violife seems to be winning in the cheese alternative department. It is also important to find dairy free versions of your favourite 'treat' food, whether its chocolate, ice-cream, cake or crisps. This will help you keep your sanity, especially if others in your household are still eating dairy. It also helps to find your dairy free swaps for cooking your favourite meals, not everything has to change just because you are dairy free. You will find you can probably eat a similar diet just with a couple of dairy free swaps. This will also help you breastfeed for longer. It is also worth noting you will actually find more options down the normal aisles of the supermarket than the 'free from,' section. Lots of products are naturally dairy free, even some you wouldn't expect, not to mention they are much cheaper than the often overpriced specialist options.

5. Plan your meals

It is always best to be organised and plan meals ahead where possible. Not only does it save money, it also means you won't be caught out on days out. If eating out at a chain restaurant, look up the allergy menu online in advance to see your options. If eating at an independent restaurant, you can contact them by email, phone or, if local, pop in and find out if they can cater for your dietary needs. Know you are safe to eat before you go anywhere where possible, and for those moments you can't always plan ahead, keep dairy free snacks such as cereal bars etc out with you just in case you get stuck while out and about.

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