What I Learned When I Cut Dairy Out of My Diet While Breastfeeding
There were many ways I was expecting parenthood to change my life. I was warned of the lack of sleep I would experience and the zombie state I would live in for the first few years. I had an idea of how pregnancy was going to change my body, and was quite aware of how much more responsibility I would have. I welcomed those changes with open arms and looked forward to my new journey through parenthood. It was a long-time dream of mine to have a house full of children, and I was excited for all those changes.
All those changes above were ones I experienced – those and a lot more. Some were pretty expected and others – like needing to completely overhaul my diet – took me by surprise. My third child was only a few weeks old and she was miserable – crying all the time and it didn't seem to matter what I did, nothing helped. I had heard before that some foods can bother the baby's stomach through the mother's milk, and, at that point, I was willing to try pretty much anything.
So, I tried something I didn't think I'd ever be able to do. I cut dairy out of my diet. Yes, I said “goodbye” to cheese and ice cream. No more cream in my coffee or butter on my breads. I didn't just eliminate lactose, but got rid of all dairy proteins including whey – which meant a huge overhaul of my diet. I was already eating gluten-free and so taking another chunk of foods out of my diet seemed drastic, but it made a world of difference.
How? Let me tell you …
1. What signs made me cut dairy out of my diet?
I had heard of colic, but hadn't experienced in either of my older two children. When my third child was born and all she did was scream and cry — I had my first colic experience. She just seemed totally miserable — she was never warm enough and always wanted to be held. She seemed to have a lot of gas all the time and would never really settle. I was breastfeeding her so we cuddled and were close all the time, but her colicky behavior made me turn to look at what I was eating. She also developed a bad diaper rash out of nowhere and had green poop, which according to KellyMom, can be a sign of food allergies. The pattern was coming clear too: I enjoyed a milkshake, the next day my baby screamed constantly.
2. How my baby changed for the better.
It didn't happen overnight and just around the time I wondered if it was even going to work at all – my baby became a whole different baby. About two weeks after going strictly dairy-free, the colic was gone, the rash was gone, the clinginess was gone; and in its place was a very happy, content baby and a much more relaxed mom.
3. How it changed me, surprisingly.
Not only was I far more relaxed since I didn't have to hold on to a screaming baby while parenting my other children, I felt better physically too. Turns out, I can't tolerate dairy and could feel it myself if I accidentally ingested something filled with it. At first I wondered what I was going to eat, but growing up eating dairy-free, I was able to turn to my mom for advice. There are a lot of products available now that can replace the items you just can't do without (like coconut coffee creamer) and staying away from a lot of processed foods helps as well.
4. What did I learn about parenthood?
I had always know that parents would do anything for their children, but I always heard that and thought of the most extreme, what-if cases. Of course, a parent would want to take any sickness if it spared their children; and going without sleep to hold a scared or ill baby is something pretty much assumed of parents, but I had no idea how much seeing your baby struggle with something when you didn't know the cause would fuel my desire to fix things. I learned that parenthood makes you do things you didn't think you could (yeah, even small things like giving up ice cream) all for the sake of maybe making your child smile a little more.
Have you had to change your diet for your breastfeeding baby?