Breastfeeding & suspected food allergies

About breastfeeding when you suspect food allergies.

You have found my page as someone who is supporting you, has suggested you eliminate some food from your diet to see if it helps your child.

Although I focus here on Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA) which is one of the most common, most of the wisdom applies across the food groups. The GP Infant Feeding Network (GPFN) describes the medical side of CMPA here, please read first.

So, the following information is the culmination of my lived parental experience of breastfeeding two multiple food allergic children & my work as a children’s nurse & breastfeeding supporter.

It does NOT replace personalised health advice from your health care, or breastfeeding supporter. I have read a lot, however, so maybe you won’t have to search so hard to find all the answers you need right now.

These are the things I wish I knew at the beginning of our journey. There are resources peppered through the text for further reading, please get in touch if you have any questions.

12 things you need to know…

Thing 1 It is not your fault.
This is not because you ate the food at the wrong point in pregnancy, ate too much or too little. In fact, if you read any of the Milk hypothesis (Maureen Minchin), it was your ancestors.

Thing 2 Up to 50% of reflux is caused by CMPA.
Many health care workers are now being told. the first line of treatment for reflux is to trail eliminating dairy sources from parent and child’s diet, state the GPIF on their Reflux treatment page.

Thing 3 Follow your instincts.
If you suspect something, investigate it. If you have health professionals telling you something that doesn’t sit right with you, double check and ask to see their evidence to support the advice they are giving you. You are the world’s foremost expert on your own baby. If you need someone who lived and breaths this to talk to, Allergy UK have a wonderful phone helpline and you can even talk to a Paediatric Dietician.

Thing 4 It takes time for the allergens to leave your milk.
Some parents might see dramatic changes within a week, for others, it can take up to 4 weeks for the allergen to be completely free from your body. For what happens next, see the exceptional Faqs from Dilan and me.

Thing 5 Keep a food diary
Do this, or at least a reaction diary, is helpful to you and the professionals working with you to figure out patterns and if more than one food allergy is suspected, this will help you work that out sooner. Allergy UK has a template on their website (scroll to the bottom).

Thing 6 Soya might be an issue too
Many parents find other animal milk & Soya will cause the same reactions in CMPA.
Most children will also react to other animal kinds of milk too, as the protein is very similar.

Thing 7 Many mothers and children thrive with support, on restricted diets.
First Steps Nutrition offer free, impartial advice about food in the early years.
If you are worrying about nutrients, in lieu of the support of a trained Dietitian, you might like this. Eating well: vegan infants and under-5s

Thing 8 Check every label, every time.
Aside from checking wine, hand soaps & dark chocolate frequently have milk in them.
If you are like me, after concerns about my baby, I was then preoccupied with the idea of cake, cheese and all things sweet.
Find ALL the alternatives here, lovingly compiled by an experienced CMPA mum @ Dilan and MeThing 9

Slip ups will happen.
It is thought, that food you eat takes 4-6 hours to reach your breastmilk.
Try not to beat yourself up about it. But if you find you are, this page, written by a dietician might help you if you do accidentally eat the food you are avoiding.Thing 10

Take safe food with you to parties
Don’t miss out on cake and nice food, I always pack a treat for the moment that amazing food comes out that I can no longer eat. Also a note about friends, even the most enthusiastic friends and family will not understand your requirements as well as you, as you are living this every day so double check anything the make / provide.Thing 11

Check the funding
Who paid for the info you are following? Much allergy information has been produced by formula companies who do not have your continued breastfeeding relationship in mind.
I like Dilan and Me’s Milk ladder info.Lastly,
Thing 12

Find other parents who get it
This bit is for you breastfeeding parent. The toll on your mental health might be small, but if you have people around you who just don’t get your anxiety around food, you could find yourself avoiding certain situations and feeling left out. There are many parents out there who get exactly how you feel, & in some parts of the country, there are even allergen free playgroups. Try this Facebook group, Breastfeeding with CMPA is run by very experienced allergy parents, it is very supportive.

Further Reading

Breastfeeding network (pdf Download)
Philippa Pearson-Glaze (milk allergy in babies)
Emma Amoscato (Book -Living with Allergies: Practical Tips for All the Family)NICE guidance on CMPA (pdf download)

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