I saw mothers in TV shows, movies, at the mall, at restaurants, and on social media breastfeeding their babies, and I thought to myself, “How beautiful is it that she’s able to feed her baby from her own body?” There is something magical and natural about a mother creating a human inside of her for nine months and then her breasts creating food to continue nourishing that tiny human. I promised myself that when I have children, I too will breastfeed them.
My breastfeeding journey with my firstborn Anaís, was cut-short after four months because in all honesty, I had no idea what I was doing. I was thrusted into the world of motherhood and nursing a child, I didn’t understand the ins-and-outs of breastfeeding, I thought it came naturally but it was difficult and I had no guidance. Anaís was fussy and preferred a bottle, and no matter how much I pumped I couldn’t keep up my supply. I gave in and gave her formula because I knew fed was best, but the feeling of defeat and inadequacy swept over me.
I made another promise to myself that when I have more children, I will educate myself on how to breastfeed so I can feed and nurture my child without outside help.
During my pregnancy with Katya I researched breastfeeding for the entirety of the nine months, I spoke to friends and family members who breastfed, I ordered lactation supplies, and met with a lactation consultant, I read books and articles online, and I created a whole Pinterest board dedicated to breastfeeding. I was determined to nurse my littlest mija, no matter what.
Shortly after giving birth to Katya, she latched on and nursed for an hour! I was over the moon! My tiny human just made her entrance into the world and was feeding like a champ, even the nurses were surprised at how effortless her first feeding was.
However, we had bumps along the road during our first week breastfeeding because her latch wasn’t always great, my breasts were engorged, and my nipples were unbelievably sore, but I was determined to push through the pain. Using the information I gathered throughout my pregnancy, I knew that breastmilk has healing properties, so I began expressing milk after each feeding and letting the magic liquid do its thing, it healed itself in no time. I was proud of myself for being able to fix the issue without help. Little did I know, trouble was brewing and things were about to take a turn.
Being a mother of two, having my husband gone five days a week, and doing it on my own, I didn’t have time or energy to make myself meals. I snacked on fruits and popcorn, I was thriving off coffee, and cereal became my best friend. However, I started noticing Katya growing more and more uncomfortable as the days went on, she cried often, was gassy, and began producing frothy and green poops, then projectile vomiting followed. I immediately “Googled” why she may be doing that (Am I really a millennial mom if I don’t “Google” my child’s symptoms?) the words “lactose intolerance” covered my screen. “Could she really be lactose intolerant?” “I have a mild lactose intolerance did she get it from me? Is this something that can be passed on!?” Countless questions flooded my mind, but I knew what had to be done, I cut all milk and dairy from my diet and scheduled an appointment with her pediatrician.
After I eliminated dairy from my diet, Katyas poops went back to normal and the projectile vomiting wasn’t as scary as it was prior. On the contrary, she was still vomiting after every nursing session, no matter how much I burped her, or how long I held her after feeding, it wouldn’t stop. My poor baby was still smiling through it all. I called her pediatrician and asked if I can come in earlier for an emergency appointment.
Katyas appointment was an hour and forty-five minutes long, I kept watching the clock as her pediatrician and I discussed the issues at hand, the tick-tock as each second passed felt so loud. The doctor diagnosed Katya with GERDS (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease aka Acid Reflux) and prescribed Pepcid, we were instructed to give her .3mls every morning before her first nursing session and for me to avoid any foods that contain dairy or casein (a milk protein).
The Pepcid worked for a few days before her crying fits came back.
I remember the four of us were cuddled on the couch watching a movie when out of the blue Katya began screaming and vomiting uncontrollably, it wouldn’t stop, it kept pouring out of her, and covered my clothes, her clothing, the blanket, and our couch. Her piercing cry broke my heart, I began panicking and tears filled my eyes, everything was blurry as I tried to clean her off. Hubby tried to console us both.
All I kept thinking was,” Why is this happening to her? It’s all my fault, I’m hurting my baby, I’m hurting her.”
I managed to pull myself together enough to call her doctors office and was told to come in first thing on Monday.
Needless to say, we didn’t make it to the two-week mark before her follow up, and with the constant vomiting and crying fits lingering, I knew bad news awaited us. My mija only gained a pound and we were told it wasn’t enough. I discussed her recent issues with her pediatrician and was told to eliminate dairy, soy, eggs, and pork from my diet, while keeping a food diary, and follow-up in one month.
At this point I was being pressured from all around to give Katya formula so she can gain weight and I can take the stress off the two of us. I refused to and I’m glad my husband stuck by my side and helped me transition to an allergen free diet.
I began logging my food, hubby and I read every ingredient label, I make 99% of my food at home, and I’m careful about cross-contamination when preparing meals.
Here are a few fun facts: Soy, Soya, and Soybeans allergies are very common. Soy is found in meats, alternative meat products, Chinese foods (Soy sauce, Teriyaki, etc..), it’s the main ingredient in vegan and vegetarian foods, and is also the main component of vegetable oil. Furthermore, soybean oil or vegetable oil is found in many of our everyday beauty products such as: facial cleaners, body wash, lotions, and even shampoo and hair masks! I had to dispose of so many of my favorite foods and beauty essentials!
The next time you grab a snack or make yourself a quick bite to eat, read the ingredients, you will be surprised how many foods you consume contain wheat, soy, milk, and eggs.
Excitedly, Katya stopped projectile vomiting, in fact, she wasn’t vomiting at all anymore, her poops were normal, she stopped having fits, and was back to her happy self! Did this mean we fixed the issue?
I flooded the doctors office with words of her improvement at Katyas follow-up appointment and shared all of our updates with her pediatrician. Katya gained weight and was now on track with her age group. The pediatrician upped her daily dosage of Pepcid, told me to continue with the elimination diet, and sent us on our way home.
My princess has been thriving between the meds and my dairy, soy, and egg-free diet! Happiness is an understatement on describing my feelings towards her recovery. I used to be afraid to breastfeed in public but after all we’ve been through, I said screw it and do so without giving it a second thought.
It’s been five months and a few days of exclusively breastfeeding my tiniest human and I’m elated! I won’t be dishonest and say I haven’t struggled, or that I haven’t broken down and cried, or been hangry on multiple occasions, because its difficult to live on a restricted diet. I cant have fast food or order take-out, I have to ask the waiter a hundred questions before I order something at a restaurant, most restaurants don’t have options for me, and cross-contamination is a big deal so we don’t eat-out often. Soy and soybean oil has taken over everything in our grocery stores and it’s sickening how much of our food is processed.
Thankfully, I found websites and apps that I can order allergen-free foods from, such as: Mylk Guys: You get $10 off if you use this link. Also, I discovered an amazing mom-owned lactation shop, where she makes lactation treats with or without allergens! So I haven’t had any issues keeping up my supply. Rebecca is amazing at what she does, her dairy and soy free puppy chow is my absolute favorite! You can order your own lactation treats at: CookieZ.com
On the contrary, I am not upset about this lifestyle change because the cause is greater than myself and I will do anything for my girls. I have been eating cleaner than I ever have, my body feels great after cutting all processed and dairy-filled foods, and its improved my cooking abilities. In addition, the amount of processed foods my family consumes has decreased dramatically, and majority of what we eat are all organic, whole foods.
I joined Facebook groups dedicated to moms who are on a elimination diet, I do my own research on what I can and cannot consume, and I found replacements for most of my favorite foods while still satisfying my sweet tooth. I recently purchased a cookbook from Amazon to inspire and teach me how to cook without gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, and other allergens. I want to prepare delicious, healthy, and allergy-free foods for Katya as she gets older because I refuse to let her feel as though she’s missing out on anything.
“Why don’t you just switch to formula?”
“She would gain weight faster if you gave her formula.”
“Your breastmilk isn’t enough.”
I have heard one negative statement after another but I won’t let it get to me. As a mother, I am confident in my decisions and doing what I know is best for my daughters. It’s a myth that breastmilk isn’t enough to nurture a child and help them gain weight, there is nothing wrong with formula, but I don’t need to feed my daughter formula just because other moms are.
Katya and I have been on quite the breastfeeding journey these past five months but this mama bear will do whatever she has to in order to care for and nourish her baby cubs. Changing my lifestyle, my diet, and anything else that needs tweaking, isn’t as important as my nursing bond with my daughter.
As we’re nearing Katyas six-month mark I’m compiling a list of allergen-free baby foods that I can make at home and I’m excited for her to try new foods! But, I’m in no rush to start solids.
I will keep breastfeeding Katya until she decides to wean. I’m putting it out into the universe that we keep going strong through our nursing journey and that no more obstacles come our way!
A breastfeeding mama