Breastfeeding our little ones is no longer for the faint of heart. Sure it’s “easy” enough once you figure out all the ins and outs of the latch, placement, position, timing, and all the other little physical nuances (football hold? cradle hold? tongue tie? lip tie?). Anyone else’s head spinning yet?
Now lets assume your milk has just come in and your happy baby all the sudden turns into a less happy baby. Perhaps there is spitting up (a little or a lot)? Diarrhea or constipation (this may take a little longer to figure out)? Are babies bowel movements the right color? Sleep patterns? Wet diapers? Rashes? Acne? Colic? Gas? Biting? This is by no means an exhaustive list just stuff I have personally experienced with my two little ones.
After nursing two little ones (still nursing one of them) I really want to drive home that I GET YOUR FRUSTRATION! If you are ready to throw in the towel, have already or perhaps you know someone who has. I GET IT! Oh boy do I get it. I swear, with my first one if it wasn’t for my ridiculous stubbornness that my child was going to wean himself (which he didn’t end up doing) because everything else I had planned for him had been taken away, I would have thrown in the towel too. The sleepless nights, the crying (both him and I), the horrible constipation, the frustration/anger with myself and this poor little baby that just wouldn’t let us sleep…why wouldn’t he let us sleep? No, I get it.
Now onto why I am writing this, and subsequent, posts. THIS IS NOT NORMAL! I don’t care who tells you it is, they are dead wrong. IT IS NOT NORMAL! Babies are supposed to be happy and comfortable not spitting up their food, being sleep deprived and writhing in pain because of gas/colic or trying to birth a bowl movement. NOT NORMAL, do not accept it as normal. And frankly if you are as stubborn as I am, you won’t! From a strictly evolutionary point of view, do you think our population would be over 7 Billion humans on this little blue planet if every woman that had children had to deal with these challenges over and over. No. If I thought it was normal and didn’t see improvements in my first one after making key changes in my diet and lifestyle, I would have stopped there if for no other reason that the complete exhaustion and mental/emotional strain.
In my experience, all (and I mean every single one of the symptoms I have listed) are the result of mama’s food allergies/intolerances/sensitivities (assuming baby is exclusively breastfed). Now let’s say you’ve had the tests IgG, IgE or what have you and you have no intolerances or allergies of note. Well that’s all well and good but these tests are not 100% for intolerances and do not cover sensitivities at all. Sensitivities can not be tested for to my knowledge. This is where your mama instincts come into play (and your diet management). If you feel that want to keep nursing and that it’s so important to you that you are willing to do anything but you are breaking down mentally/emotionally I would STRONGLY advise looking at your diet and lifestyle. It has been my experience that dietary changes will result in some of the quickest relief.
So what do you do? Where do you start? Honestly, depending on the symptoms, you could start anywhere from removing the top 8 allergens (except if you are not allergic to fish, I would keep that… EFA’s) to doing a full Autoimmune Protocol (specifically “The Paleo Approach” by the PaleoMom or check out Dr. Wahls* protocol). Please be mindful that a lot of traditional practitioners are not yet recognizing the nutrition connection but a good ND or integrative practitioner will likely work with you. Family practitioners are also more likely to work with you. Another thing you could do is check out the Heal Thyself group on facebook or Ning and connect with other mothers healing themselves and their nursing children through diet and lifestyle.
For me personally I am on a modified Autoimmune Protocol. It’s working like a charm. I get sleep and am rebuilding my body. I am not convinced my infants have the issues, or at least all of them that they show symptoms for. I suspect that most of it is me and my body not digesting food properly so they are getting proteins in my breast milk that causes them symptoms.
Peak your interest? I will be writing more later on this subject as it is near and dear to my heart.
* I have not read Dr. Wahls book yet but anticipate reading it soon.