Allergies, A Beginners Guide

Once we had a diagnosis for Miss Cs cows milk protein allergy I didn’t really think much more of it. She was only a few weeks old and I didn’t need to think about food and weaning because at that point all she needed was milk and we had that covered.

When she was admitted back in to the Paediatric ward, the Dietitian told us that we would be seen when she was around 5 months old to talk to us about weaning. Sure to her word I got a letter a few months later to go to our local hospital to see her. The Dietitian was really helpful and gave me loads of helpful tips and advice but mostly (the bit I was worrying about) what to look out for on food packaging. She sent me on my way with a head full of information, a booklet about weaning, a few notes on websites etc to look over and her contact details with a promise that I would contact her if there were any problems.

After the appointment I went to Morrisons and had a look around for substitutes for milk, cheese and butter. I easily must have spent about half an hour just staring at packets and referring to my booklet to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. I found dairy free butter and picked up some soya milk as that’s what the Dietitian had recommended we go with.

When Miss B was a baby I used my Annabel Karmel cookbook like a bible! I had never weaned a baby before and didn’t really know what I was doing so used this as a guide. It was always my plan to do the same with Miss C but I wasn’t sure how that would work with her allergy but I decided to just go for it and use substitutes for the dairy parts. I followed the guide again and started with fruit and vegetable purees. I waited the full six months to start as she didn’t seem overly fussed about it, where as her sister used to sit like a hungry puppy every meal time staring at every bit going in your mouth!

I started with baby rice mixed with her formula milk at her lunch time feed and the smell was awful! Like I’ve said before, the formula milk smells and tastes like nothing I’ve ever come across and I felt terrible giving it to her. She didn’t seem to mind at all and hoovered it! I stuck with baby rice for the first week and added in a little vanilla essence to flavour it a little. In week two I started giving her another solid at dinner time gaving her fruit or vegetable purees and just built it up from there. She took everything I gave her and was always looking for more! This girl has a fantastic appetite and can’t seem to get enough grub 🙂

Around week 3 I tried her with some banana which she loved but about an hour after she ate it she started passing really loud wind. This is always a tell tale sign that she is having a reaction. She starts off with loud wind then terrible nappies and depending on how bad the reaction is, there can be blood in her stool. The problem is that since she had tried lots of new foods that week, I wasn’t entirely sure what had caused the reaction. As expected she had awful nappies for about a week afterwards but her tummy settled pretty well after that. I think in my naivety I just assumed she would only be allergic to cows milk protein, it never occurred to me at all that she would be allergic to anything else and oh how wrong I would be!

Over the next few weeks I followed my meal planner and picked up some dairy free cheese and some soya yoghurt to try. I pureed some mango and put that in with the yoghurt. She scoffed it, but then, like before she started to get a rhumbly tummy. I had tried her with mango before so was pretty sure it wasn’t that so waited until the next day and gave her some more yoghurt on its own this time and straight away she reacted. I couldn’t believe it! The Dietitian told me that most cows milk could be replaced easily by soya products so the fact that she then reacted to it was a bit of a blow.

The weaning process continued and we have discovered that she is allergic to Cows Milk Protein, Soya, Strawberries, Bananas and Tomatoes. I think she also had a reaction to peppers so I need to expose her to them again to see if she definitely is. I was also advised to avoid beef which I couldn’t see why but thinking about it makes total sense. It’s cow and contains the protein in the milk. Thankfully I’ve replaced all my recipes with lamb which is tasty and Miss C loves it!

When I was looking for more information, I had a Google and found three FaceBook support groups which I joined and they have been a great. Lots of parents in similar situations who have or are going through the same as me. It’s also nice to know you aren’t going through it alone. It might sound silly but allergies are a strange thing to deal with and sometimes it can be quite difficult. These pages have given lots of help and support and have been invaluable.

Despite all the allergies, Miss C is thriving and LOVES food. She will happily sit with a bowl munching away and most days there seems like there is no filling her up! I decided that I would blog about it because initially when I was looking for information and wanted a parents perspective and couldn’t really find anything. I want to try to help other parents who may be in the same situation so my plan is to blog recipes and food ideas that be useful.

I think the main thing I would advise anyone in the same situation is to listen to your instincts, ask for advice when you need it and listen to your baby. Be aware of what their types of reactions and be vigilant.

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Told you she loves her grub 🙂

Adventures in Breastfeeding – Part 2

When Miss C was born I was adamant I wanted to breastfeed. I didn’t have a very good experience with Miss B but I know that it is best so wanted to try. I spoke to the midwife when I was in labour and was insistent that I wanted to let her try to latch on as soon as possible to establish feeding. About 6 minutes after Miss C was born she was snuggled into my side and latched on. I was elated!!! I have a naturally large chest and really struggled with latching with her sister and was worried I would have the same problems again. A few hours later I tried to feed her again and latching was an issue. I was given fantastic help from the Breastfeeding Support Workers on the ward but unfortunately then all the drama started!

She was in the incubator but I was allowed to take her out to feed her, and I tried for three days with no success. I had a long, tearful chat with a Midwife and a BF Support Worker and they suggested I express my milk and feed her that way. It was the best of both worlds, I could pump my milk, she was getting the best and I wasn’t stressed out every time she was due a feed!

This continued for two weeks after I got home. I would pump my milk when she was due a feed and her Daddy would feed her and it was working well. The only real downside was lack of skin to skin which then had an effect on my milk production. I tried to snuggle her as much as possible when I wasn’t expressing but it was really hard because she needed her space and peace too. A week after Dad went back to work I made the decision to stop expressing. It was a difficult decision but ultimately it was the best for us. She had three weeks of my milk and all the colostrum but the guilt still killed me.

I bought a tub of formula milk from the shops and started using it. Within a few days she was a different baby. She was unsettled, in pain, windy and had bad diarrhoea. After three days I noticed she had blood in her poo and took her straight to the local Out of Hours centre. The Doctor didn’t seem worried and didn’t look at her bottom at all. I had taken a nappy with me that had blood in it but he didn’t look and told me she had an anal fisher. I wasn’t wholly convinced but took her home. The Health Visitor was due to come out a few days later so I kept an eye on Miss C and showed the Health Visitor my concern. As soon as I took her nappy off she immediately put on a show and was able to let the Health Visitor see first hand what the problem was! She was concerned and sent me straight to the GP surgery to have her seen. As before, as soon as I took her nappy off she gave him a very up close and personal show of the issue. He was horrified and sent us straight to the local maternity hospital because it had a Paediatric Ward. She was admitted and they asked loads of questions, tested her and were really thorough. After a few hours the Consultant came back in and told me he thought she was allergic to Cows Milk Protein. I had never heard of it before but she was really patient and explained everything to me and then got a Dietician in to talk me through what I needed to know. She was fantastic and explained what cows milk protein was and how it was different to someone who was Lactose Intolerant. She talked me through the symptoms and that the blood in her stool was most likely the lining of her stomach being striped away. I left the hospital with a tin of prescription milk, a few booklets on CMPA and a head full of information.

When she was due her next feed we gave her the prescription milk. The first thing that hit me was the smell. It was vile. The Dietician had told me that it was a blessing that Miss C had been diagnosed so early because older children usually refuse to drink the prescription milk due to the taste and smell. I could immediately see what she meant, it was just awful. The second thing was the texture. Normal baby formula is really light and falls straight down into the water and dissolves but this stuff is thick like flour and just sat on top of the water in the bottle. She took the milk with no issue and within a few hours was much more settled. After a week or so she was a totally different baby. She was settled and happy and didn’t pump every few minutes but most of all, the bleeding had stopped. The Dietician told me that they would see me when she was around 5 months old to talk about weaning but if we had any problems just to contact them straight away.

I can tell you that all of this did NOTHING to help with the guilt I was still feeling around giving up breastfeeding, but I was reassured that she would still be allergic to Cows Milk Protein but since my diet doesn’t contain a lot of dairy it would just show itself at a later date.

So there we are, the start of an interesting journey into the world of being dairy free. Let’s see how this turns out!

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