January 20, 2012

The Dairy Diaries: Part One

Should you happen to be a man (or woman!) who is made uncomfortable by the sound of your own in-head voice reading about breastfeeding, please avert your eyes and spare yourself the gagging. Thank you.


Today I'm going to start a series of entries about going dairy-free. I have been dairy-free for about 8 months now, with a few cheats here and there. I gave up dairy because my breastfeeding daughter is sensitive to it, something I discovered after a little bit of detective work when she was around 8 weeks old. Breastfeeding was such an intense bonding experience, and I loved knowing that my body could sustain her, so I gave dairy the boot because it was important to me to be able to continue exclusive breastfeeding. However, don't get me wrong. I LOVE CHEESE. And milk. And ice cream. Yogurt, oh the creamy yogurt. Mmmmm, sour cream on my nachos. Ah, the thick and smooth cream sauce! Ok, ok, I'll stop! Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, and that's why I'm writing this in the first place.

If you are here needing help because you think that your breastfed baby might have a dairy sensitivity, intolerance or allergy, please remember to consult your pediatrician. Ours, an excellent doctor, did not have much to say on the issue, and confessed that although his own children were breastfed, he didn't know much about dealing with sensitivities to whatever the mother ate; however, many doctors, midwives or lactation specialists can offer great advice. In search of help, I did a lot of "Dr. Googling" and found other moms who had the same troubles, and hope to add my two cents in case I can ease anyone other mamas in their journey. (Note: Your doctor may recommend switching to formula; however, most formulas are made with a milk protein base, and this will not help at all. A soy-based formula is the only alternative. I encourage you to go dairy-free and keep nursing, though!)


Emmy starting exhibiting signs of dairy sensitivity around 8 weeks old. She had bright green, mucousy poops and was fussy for no apparent reason around 5-7 p.m. Occasionally there was a slightly bloody stool, which really got me worried. LLL's book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding mentions dairy sensitivity, so I went with my instinct and starting an elimination diet. Basically, I dropped all dairy products for a couple of days and the improvements in both her mood and her poop were drastic. She no longer had evening spells of crying and whimpering, and her stools were perfect. Yes, I realize that only a parent can think that their child's poop is perfect :) And so we hit the nail on the head, and I realized that I needed to make a lifestyle change when it came to my eating and cooking habits.

Continued Signs

Today, at 10 months old, Emmy is still breastfeeding and is still sensitive to dairy in my milk. She eats meats, grains, fruits and veggies many times throughout the day, but her main sustenance is still breastmilk. One difference now is how her sensitivity is displayed. In her early months, her stools were enough to tell. Now, as her diet has expanded and her GI tract has matured, that's no longer the case. Dairy no longer affects her poop. So, every few weeks, I eat a serving of dairy to test and see how it affects her. And yes, I relish those precious few and far between bites of cheese!

Interestingly, in the last two months, her sensitivity has come through in her skin. I ate lasagna and a few pieces of chocolate one day, and she developed tiny ezcema-like patches on her thigh-joint areas, as well as on the back of her calves and near her elbows. When I ate more dairy the following day, the patches got thicker and redder. The next few days, I dropped all dairy and the patches cleared up immediately.

So.... sigh. She is still sensitive to dairy. But that's ok, because I know how to deal with it now!

Baby Steps

I didn't realize how often I ate dairy, and how many surprising food products contain dairy, which, to be clear, does not include eggs. An elimination diet can be shocking, and for ravenous breastfeeding moms, it can be difficult to feel satiated without those yummy fats.

I recommend going cold turkey, as this will speed up the process of removing all milk proteins from your body. Most research that I have read says that milk proteins can stay in your body for up to 3 weeks, yikes! However, it only took two or three days to see drastic improvements in our case.

Soups, stews, salads, trail mix and teas are what helped me in my elimination diet. The liquids kept me hydrated, and the protein from nuts and meat made me feel full. Also, chamomile tea, to me, has a buttery taste, so if you are really craving it, make yourself a cup. It might surprise you to find natural foods that taste just as rich as dairy!

My next post will be about how to sustain a dairy-free diet by using substitute foods. If you are dairy-free, please comment and share about your choice. I'd love to hear from you!

January 12, 2012

A Small Triumph

I love crafts. I love sewing. I love baby nap time, and on a really really good day, all those happen at the same time.

Here's my January wreath, hanging proudly on our front door. It's wintery in the most Southern of ways -- bright bluewhite skies and still-blooming bushes with streaks of yellow. No snowflakes here, at least not yet, but it's snowed in March for the past two years, so we'll see!

January 3, 2012

New Year's Will Bring Me to You

(name that song & artist ^ and you get a big digital hug from me for having great musical taste)

Christmas came and went, and here it is, 2012. I'm going to take an hour one of these days and write out all about our time at home, and about the horrors of roseola, and how apparently you can PMS without PMSing, and how amazing simple dates with my husband are, but for now, I'm looking forward.

This year's calendar is already so full: Emmy's first birthday, lots of "trips" for Daddy, big projects for Mommy to tackle. Our family has some singular challenges in store, but none that we can't tackle with a little bit of Rosie the Riveter attitude and a lot of Holy Spirit strength.

I usually do one New Year's resolution a year. The last two were to stay in touch with friends and to not give unsolicited advice.

This year, I'm amping it up to a handful instead of just one. Here goes!

Give more instead of being crazy about finding a deal. Store up treasures in heaven. 
Grow a victory garden.
Love on my friends and family by remembering and making special their birthdays.
Read the whole Bible.