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Breastfeeding: what can I eat?

(11 Posts)
Gurke Wed 17-Apr-13 12:27:15

Wise mumsnetters, I'm at the end of my tether and would really appreciate your advice.

My DS is almost 7 months old (he was a premie, corrected age is almost 4 months). He has only ever been fed my breastmilk, first by NG tube, then we established BF.

When he came home from hospital, aged 2 months, he got the most horrendous silent reflux (started literally overnight): screaming in pain, arching back, refusing to feed etc. After a few weeks of this the reflux turned not so 'silent': in addition to the pain, he now started to vomit, often projectile, large quanitities of his feeds - most days, sometimes several times a day.

Some of the advice I got from various doctors & nurses sounded sensible. In addition to the physical things like raising his cot, changing feeding positions, raising his cot, holding him up after feeds etc they advised I change my diet: cut out all dairy (because it inflames immature guts); cut out all fruit, juices, booze & anything acidic (because it makes the vomits more painful); and cut out 'windy' vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and salad.

Ok, so far so good. I followed this dietary advice pretty much to the letter. Finding it v hard-going as I have always eaten pretty healthily and love my fruit & yoghurt. (And now satisfied those BF munchies with cakes & biscuits, and have become a huge lardarse as a result, but that's another story).

DS' reflux got better: first to vomits every other day, then increasingly to stretches of 3 or 4 vomit-free days, and he definitely didn't seem in as much pain anymore. Last month he hadn't vomited for almost 2 weeks, and I set out to (slowly) introduce foods into my diet again: cheese sandwich one day, some milk chocolate the next, then a pear & plum, then some grapes and piece of mango. - And: after a few days of this, the vomits started again. I stopped all dairy again for a while, then ate some more fruit. But he now throws up most days again.

So, my long-winded question is this: what has been your experiences with BF a refluxy baby, and what did you do to your diets? I know there are many people claiming that you can eat pretty much anything while BF, but that doesn't seem to be true for us! But it's so frustrating not to know exactly what is making the reflux worse - do you have any advice about how I can identify clear links between what I've eaten and what makes him sick?

Would love to hear about your experiences. THANK YOU!!!!!

gaggiagirl Wed 17-Apr-13 17:03:05

Curry even mild ones gave DD the worst reflux after bf so I had to avoid lovely curries, I wonder if each baby is different or there is a rule to it.

EauRouge Wed 17-Apr-13 17:11:02

When people say you can eat anything when you BF, really what they mean is that there is no need for all breastfeeding mothers to avoid any particular food. Also a lot of times things like oversupply or a shallow latch can cause problems like wind that may be incorrectly blamed on foods. If an individual baby reacts to a certain food then it can be cut out of the diet (a bit of trial and error sometimes helps to make sure it is food and not just a one-off coincidence).

Some foods are more likely to be the culprit than others, dairy being one, also things like fruit. Every baby is different though. Are there any allergies in the family?

There's some information here that you might find helpful.

harverina Wed 17-Apr-13 21:26:34

My dd is allergic to cows milk protein and I cut out all raw dairy, replacing it with soya until she stopped bf ages 2.5. I started this when my dd was 6 weeks old.

I realised myself that there was a connection between me having a bowl of cereal with milk one morning with her being violently sick the next morning and made the decision to cut out raw dairy myself.

Unfortunately I didn't realise that my dd had an allergy and gave her yogurt at 6 months. Due to the severity of her reaction we were referred to an allergy clinic and I was also prescribed calcium supplements.

Someone else I think asked if there is a history of allergies or intolerances in your family? Is your dc's skin ok?

Are you getting supplements? Cuttings food groups out of your diet isn't an easy thing to do and it is something you should discuss with an hcp which you seem to have already done. I didn't feel too deprived and actually enjoy soya products now.

Gurke Wed 17-Apr-13 21:48:49

Thank you all for your helpful comments.

There are several allergies in my family, but none of them are food-related as far as I know - most are skin-related, hayfever, that kind of thing. My DS has had some slight red patches on his eyebrows I have noticed before, but they seem to come and go without me being to pin down what food (if any) causes it.

Sadly he could be reacting to so many different foodstuffs, singly or in combination - and, as EauRouge says, it doesn't have to be food. (I know fast letdown was another problem to begin with, but blockfeeding really helped).

I just wish I could be certain about causes! As it is, every time he is sick (and that's now often again) I'm sure it must be something I've eaten or done. Maybe it's the soy yoghurt I've taken to replace dairy? And can he really be 'allergic' in that sense to a pear or some mango I've eaten?

harverina that sounds really serious - what happened when you fed her yoghurt? Is her allergy likely to go away at some point?

So there seem to be two different sets of possibilities: 1. temporary food intolerances in young (reflux) babies, and 2. lasting allergies.

I just wish I knew exactly what was going on in his little stomach!!!

olivertheoctopus Wed 17-Apr-13 21:52:53

Is he on medication for his reflux?

Gurke Wed 17-Apr-13 22:19:36

oliver no he isn't - GP gave him Gaviscon, which was a nightmare to administer (DS is still, months later, refusing to drink from a cup because of my attempts to give it to him). Pead suggested Domperidone & Ranitidine, but we agreed to hold off as long as weight gain was still ok and breathing stabilised after choking. So far haven't gone down drugs route again.

harverina Fri 19-Apr-13 22:44:13

Gurke my dd had an anaphylactic reaction to the yogurt - but don't want to alarm you though as this is not particularly common.

Why don't you come over to the allergy board and post there and see what some of the mums think? It may be nothing to do with allergies/intolerances at all though. However there are much more experiences and knowledgeable mums on their than me grin who may give some insight based on their experiences.

I think that my dd's sickness wasn't only allergy related actually as sitting her up after a feed etc did help. However it was by eliminating raw dairy that we saw a consistent improvement and now we know why. However, on hindsight I probably shouldn't have eliminated a major food group without medical advice although I was careful to get calcium and fats in other ways.

Sorry haven't been much help just wanted to share our experience re. eliminating certain foods.

harverina Fri 19-Apr-13 22:47:01

If you are eliminating foods the best way to see what is affecting him is to reintroduce one food item at a time so that you can be clear what is actually having an impact. It can take weeks for something to be entirely our of your system so you will have to space them out quite a lot.

owlface Sat 20-Apr-13 17:32:19

My HV has just recommended I cut out the same foods you listed. She was horrified that I had been eating bowls of raw spinach and I had no idea it was affecting DD as the hospital had given me a list of iron rich foods to eat following a blood transfusion! She told me to start with cutting out green veg for a week to see if that helps, if not to then cut out citrus, then dairy in order to narrow down the culprit. She said "nursery foods" should be fine, so things like carrots, potatoes and apples. She also said that altered food is better than raw state, so it is better to have a hot chocolate than a milkshake for example, as heated milk will cause less problems.

I've only just started this so I don't know if it will work but I hope it does! Hope things improve for you soon.

Gurke Sat 20-Apr-13 23:06:09

Thank you everyone for your comments.

Harverina, your DD's experience sounds terrifying. Thanks for mentioning the allergy board, I shall decamp and hopefully see you there!

I think part of my frustration is that I don't know to what extent my DS's symptoms are caused by food intolerances or by a more general immaturity of the gut/ 'reflux', or a combination of other factors. Obviously I have cut out things I thought he was reacting to, and he did get better, but after weeks of being really well we appear to be back at square one - and I have no idea why. Today was a particularly bad day. He's screaming in pain again, fighting at every feed, and has had two enormous vomits.

Owlface, sounds like we might have the same HV! Mine also told me off for eating spinach, and told me to stick to bland starchy foods. (Sadly that means a lot of biscuits in place of my usual fruit, which means that the longer my DS's pukey phase lasts the fatter I will get... Oops.) Hope this works for you.

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