What I Learned When I Cut Dairy Out of My Diet While Breastfeeding

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Image adapted via Flickr/ Marina Shemesh

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. 

{ MORE: Could an Elimination Diet Prevent Colic? }

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 …

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Image via Flickr/ elvissa

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.

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Image via Flickr/ brettneilson

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.

{ MORE: My Baby Won't Stop Biting While Breastfeeding: Tips to Navigate this Frustrating Experience }

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Image via Flickr/ chichacha

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.

{ MORE: Should You Feed Your Baby Donated Breast Milk? }

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Image via Flickr/ RTD Photography

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.

{ MORE: Interesting and Effective Breast Milk Benefits—Aside From Lunch! }

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What I Learned When I Cut Dairy Out of My Diet While Breastfeeding

Devan McGuinness is the founder of the online resource Unspoken Grief, which is dedicated to breaking the silence of perinatal grief for those directly and indirectly affected by miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death. Using her own experience of surviving 12 miscarriages, Devan has been actively supporting and encouraging others who are wading through the challenges associated with perinatal and neonatal loss. Winner of the 2012 Bloganthropy Award and named one of Babble's “25 bloggers wh ... More

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2 comments

  1. Profile photo of Tangee Tangee says:

    I am lactose intolerant but I have many moments of weakness..cheese especially! My baby didn’t really have any issues with what I ate while breastfeeding until I drank half a glass of dairy milk (because the door salesman gave it to me for free) and for 3 days my baby screamed in pain and I didn’t know what to do! I of course refrained from any more dairy and I pumped her legs massaged her belly and tried to comfort her, nothing worked until that dairy was out of both our systems! My pediatrician told me to try milk again at a later time..That was too much to bare I will not do that to her again!

  2. Profile photo of sayhola sayhola says:

    With my first I had to eliminate milk, soy, eggs, wheat, gluten, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, beef, corn, and tomatoes. We never figured out his allergy and he outgrew it and now eats everything. I was on this diet for a minimum or 8 months, but probably closer to a year. With DD, I am currently milk- and soy-free. She is doing beautifully at 8 mos and has even allowed me to begin to add in a bit of cheese. Starting small, and back to GI in another week! 🙂

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