Breastfeeding Dairy Free

First of all, I just want to say a massive well done. Breastfeeding is not easy, its demanding enough when its going well, so to then go dairy free for your child as well is a great sacrifice. It will be difficult at times, my husband so thoughtfully took us all to an ice-cream farm during my dairy free period, but be proud of yourself for sticking with it.  

My Experience
I wasn’t the biggest dairy eater myself, so I didn’t mind cutting out the milk, butter, cheese, chocolate etc.. But what I really found hard was the high volume of products that contain milk as an ingredient.  
When I was at home being dairy free wasn’t an issue. There are plenty of alternative options  ( See my Quick Food Shopping Guide for dairy free choices) and dare I say it actually improved by diet by making me cut out lots of processed foods. I ate a lot cleaner and fresher and felt better for it.  

Where I found difficulty was when eating out and about. I remember being in Ask Italian and them handing me the allergy menu. The only main I could really have was a salad. Great. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very nice salad, but hardly the treat when placed next to my husband’s indulgent meal and even my three year old’s ham and cheese pizza. That said it did lessen the guilt when it came to dessert. You will soon find being dairy free that the dessert menu is your enemy. Nearly every dish will contain dairy, unless they have sorbet or sometimes even a Belgium waffle. Ask Italian do have a dairy free chocolate and blood orange tart that is utterly delicious and worth a trip to Ask Italian alone. You will find some places you expect to be accommodating, such as large chains or cafes at National Trust tourist attractions have no or very limited options, yet I have experienced some incredible kindness and accommodation by some small local cafes. I was blown away by how some small businesses went out their way to ensure they could accommodate my dietary needs, from one cafĂ© ringing the bakery from which they sourced their bread to check the ingredients, to another chef making me a meringue so I didn’t feel left out being the only person in my party without a dessert.  

One battle you may experience is people not taking your no milk diet seriously. My own mother struggled to understand and kept making me cups of tea with milk, because ‘surely a little won’t hurt.’ But the reality is a little does hurt and would have caused an immediate reaction with Matilda. She was so sensitive. I just couldn’t risk it. I couldn’t bear the thought of her suffering. In the end while we were out and about, I used to just say I was the one allergic to milk. It was just easier that way and I felt people took it more seriously.  
Stay strong, you are doing a fabulous job and if you are craving chocolate eat a bourbon biscuit or Oreo. You will feel like you are eating chocolate but its milk free! 

For information about what it means to challenge while breastfeeding see my section tiled Challenging While Breastfeeding or to read about my personal experience of this click here.

Top Tips 
  • - Eat Clean. Cut the processed food out. 
  • - Seek advice and support from your local GP or Health visitor for information on keeping your calcium levels up while going dairy free. They can also recommend or prescribe supplements. Pregnacare breast-feeding is a good multivitamin for breastfeeding but only contains 700mg of calcium, barely half the recommended 1250mg a day for breastfeeding mums so will need to be supplemented with a high calcium diet and supplements. The NHS have a useful pdf about maintaining calcium levels while breastfeeding
  • - Tell people you are allergic. 17-year-old waiters don’t want to hear about how milk is passed through your breasts to your baby making them sick. You will also be taken more seriously.  
  • - Look out for vegan signs on menus, but do proceed with caution. I once saw an ice-cream van advertising they had vegan ice-cream which turned out to be made from goat’s milk. Not vegan and most people allergic to cow's milk protein react to goat's milk due to the similarities between the proteins.
  • - Chain restaurants are usually your safest bet when eating out.  
  • If you get stuck on the road or want a guilty treat on the go McDonald’s is largely dairy free and you can download their allergy menu from their website.  
  • - Always carry dairy free snacks with you in case hunger strikes or you can't find anything suitable when you are out and about. Dried apricots are great for this as they are high in calcium.

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