Help for the Unexpected Challenges of Breastfeeding
After days of my son screaming in my face and refusing to latch, a drastic departure from his usual ravenous self, the dots started to connect. What if the copious amounts of poop, chunky spit up, rash, swollen lymph nodes, and now this new eating refusal were linked? Maybe this was not just the “newborn phase.” As a first time mom, I am learning a lot. One of the biggest lessons is to not delay asking for help when things seem off. What I now know is my son was showing reactions to some of the food proteins being passed through my breastmilk. I am hoping to share some resources with other parents who find themselves on the path of navigating infant food allergies.
My journey really predates my 6 month old son. Both my husband and I discovered as adults that we had a long list of allergies. We started on allergy therapy, made diet amendments, stocked the cabinet with Zyrtec and went on our merry little way. We expected allergies to show up in our son, but never could have imagined the magnitude and complexity to which they presented themselves.
As these symptoms continued to pile up we found ourselves in the office of Jeanne Pichoff with Flourish Pediatric Therapy and Lactation. The painful latch I was trying to navigate ended up being the biggest blessing in disguise. First, the professional guidance she gave us was amazing. It helped us to avoid a frenotomy, cleared his torticollis (which I did not know was a thing), and helped us achieve a comfortable latch. Jeanne is an angel that walks amongst us in Lafayette. I cannot recommend her enough for any feeding issues you may be having. Jeanne is also the one that softly guided me towards considering food allergies playing a role in some of our struggles. She handed me a pamphlet from Free to Feed, the most invaluable resource I have on this journey.
Food Allergies Can Feel Very Isolating
Free to Feed was started by a molecular biologist who found herself trying to breastfeed her baby who showed extreme symptoms of allergies. After finding a void in this area, she formed Free to Feed so that others would not have to face this challenge alone. They understand the science of how this complex transfer of proteins-inducing allergies works. Free to Feed consultants help moms come up with a plan unique to their situation to feed themselves so that they can continue to breastfeed their babies.
I did not reach out for help immediately. Instead, I devoured all the information I could on their website and decided I was going to try and navigate this journey on my own. After all, this was not my first rodeo. I had done this for my husband and myself, I could do it for my son as well. Well. It turns out I could not. I had cut my diet down to about 8 items and was slowly trying to introduce safe allergen alternatives when we had a big response from what I was hoping would be my hallelujah carb option. I broke down in tears defeated. I was hungry, lonely, and I felt lost. Still, I did not want to stop breastfeeding. It was a bond and experience with my son I had really grown to love. Also, I did not know what formula he would tolerate considering all the foods we were having issues with. So out of desperation, I booked a consultation with Free to Feed. It has been a game changer.
Free to Feed Saved My Breastfeeding Journey
Not to say we are perfect now; we are not. But I have a broader diet than when I started, growing broader by the week! I connected with other moms on this path where we can share tips and lend each other an empathetic ear of support. We will also have professional guidance on introducing solids. At the beginning of this journey, all I could see was my limited diet. But as we inched closer to the 6 month mark, more layers started to reveal themselves. How do I go about introducing food to my son in a safe way? Free to Feed not only helps moms navigate finding ways to feed themselves, they can also help families navigate solids for their children. I would be lying if I said starting solids was not an anxiety inducing bridge we are crossing. However, I feel a bit more at peace knowing I have this resource to help guide us.
If you find yourself in a similar boat, first, I am so sorry, but do not lose hope! Learn from me and do not delay asking for help. Getting to the root of the problem as quickly as possible is the best tool you have. Surround yourself with resources and support that will help you achieve your goals.
About the Author
Erin is a native of Lafayette, Louisiana and graduate of ULL. She’s a new mom who’s happiest when she is spending time with her family, exploring a new place, or working on her home. Right now though, she really could use a nap. She is blessed to spend her working days running her design business, Erin Li-Sik Designs, helping people make their house their home.