Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It’s no use crying over spilled milk

I grew up on a dairy farm and on milk.  Milk for breakfast, milk for lunch, milk for dinner and milk for snacks. Really thick, yummy milk straight from the cow. Actually, I shouldn’t say straight from the cow because we boiled the milk first – but you get my point.

Throughout my pregnancy my love for milk heightened. I craved chocolate milk and ice cream and these were my go-to treats. Then it all came to a screaming halt.

In the first few weeks of little E’s life, his Pediatrician wasn’t happy with his slow weight gain. We attributed it to his sleepy nursing behavior. I visited breastfeeding clinics and well-baby clinics weekly at my local Ontario Early Years centre. The lactation consultants were very helpful, but something still wasn’t right. I started doing my own research and finally decided that it must be something I was eating that was being passed on to him. He spit up an awful lot more than what I thought was normal. I decided to cut dairy out of my diet – one of the most common foods that don’t agree with infants tummies. Immediately, little E’s behavior changed. He wasn’t cranky after he nursed, he didn’t spit up nearly as much and he slept uninterrupted.

It really bothered me that no one mentioned this or even thought about this and if I hadn’t done all the research myself I wouldn’t have come to this conclusion. Sure, I had read about foods being passed through mommy’s milk and affecting the infant – but I still feel like there isn’t enough information out there coming from the professionals you trust the most.

Our pediatrician, even sent me home with a can of formula to supplement him. Even though I was against feeding my child formula, she was so adamant that he wasn’t gaining enough weight according to the charts – and even threatened to refer us to CHEO if his weight gain didn't pick up! It made me feel like an awful mother, but I knew I was doing everything right when it came to nursing. I had read nearly all the books the Ottawa Public Library carried on the topic and was confident that he was getting enough milk. I was instructed to nurse little E until he wouldn’t take anymore and then supplement him with the formula. I did this once and vowed to never do it again after he spit it all up. It made me cry. He was obviously full and that “fake” milk didn’t agree with him.

And so our journey began (a long journey that we are still struggling with today) and I gave up milk. It was hard in the beginning, but it was so worth it. Especially, the decline in night wakings from tummy cramps.

In the end, I realized his so called “failure to thrive” was because of his milk sensitivity. There are so many things I wish I could have noticed or done earlier to avoid all the discomfort little E had and all the frustration Hubby and I went through trying to figure this all out. But as the saying goes, it’s no use crying over spilled milk…


  1. This is a more common problem then I had ever realized. I know a lot of moms that had to give up dairy when nursing. Lara (from Kids in the Capital) had to give up dairy and soy! You'd think that since it is so common, it would be more obvious but it stil seems to be one of the last things people try.

  2. I'll have to connect with Lara! It has been tough and there have been so many setbacks. It was one of the last things I tried and part of me still regrets that.

  3. My son has the same problem with dairy. Not yet sure if it's a full allergy or just an intolerance that he might outgrow. I'm struggling with how to wean without him able to drink milk.

  4. Alison, how old is your son and how did you discover his intolerance? We have learned a lot in the last 18 months. And I still have much to share on this topic...actually I plan to post more background on our struggles tomorrow. Looking forward to connecting more :)

  5. I feel for you. Every parent has discovered that an action or inaction has inadvertently caused either blatant harm, or some level of discomfort to their child. My friend was essentially poisoning her little guy with fluoride toothpaste before he knew how to spit it out. He was vomiting and everything. My kids have had their own "events" as well that make me feel awful. I totally get it, and so does every parent, and you're right: no sense crying over it.
    My guy is now 5, and I struggle with dairy with him. He knows it makes him feel terrible, and there's not much he can do avoid it (lactaid doesn't help) so at some point he'll have to accept the pain/cramps/diarrhoea thing when he chooses to eat it. I personally feel that dairy is extremely unhealthy so I am kind of glad he can't tolerate it, but it's tough for him when there's pizza or something. Not sure when to put the responsibility on him...I find that a hard choice.
    Happy holidays!!!