To the friends and families of mamas all around the world nursing infants and young children on extreme elimination diets.
I’m sure you’ve noticed we have been going through some health concerns with our little one, and I just wanted to share a few ways you could help support us at this difficult time.
Please trust that I’m doing what I believe is best for my child’s health.
Trust that if eating more foods was an option, and wouldn’t result in instant (up to four hours later) or delayed (up to four days later) reaction symptoms, I would totally eat anything I liked, but that my child’s health is more important to me than “just a bite” of pizza or apple pie, or any other food that isn’t on *my list* of foods I know are safe to consume. Although you may think it’s a negligible amount, it’s not you who sees a child suffering as a result of it. I’m human so I know if I slip up, I see the affect of that in my child. So often they *seem* fine from exposure to things and then spend the night crying, screaming, scratching themselves till the bleed… so if I look tired. You know why.
Mamas all around the world nurse infants on extreme elimination diets from living on 3 to 8 foods or more to find out what combination helps their children and allows them to thrive without pain or suffering. Because a child covered in eczema, with blood in their stools, with reflux or projectile vomiting is suffering and in pain. Regardless of whether you see it happen or believe they “are normal baby symptoms”. Sometimes they are symptoms that are less clear like weight loss or failure to gain weight, or “colic” aka unexplained sadness. But all of these can be, and for us are, directly related to the foods we consume.
Trust me that I’m doing my best for my child, and that my doing so is not a criticism of you or your parenting. My monkeys my circus, your monkeys your circus, and all that jazz. I’m just trying to do the best I can for my child, who I can clearly see has health issues related to the foods we eat.
I don’t need you to see their health issues, or even understand them – I need you to see me. I need you to trust me. Trust that I would not go to these extreme measures if I didn’t believe it was the best thing for my child’s health.
Please respect my decisions, as a person, as a parent, as a human being!
Please respect that I am doing everything I can to help my child. Anything you say or do to question this doesn’t support me and doesn’t show me you care about us, it just tells me you don’t trust my judgement. When you think you know better completely undermines me as a person and a parent, which doesn’t show me any respect at all.
If you try to sneak my kid food, because you think they’re missing out, at worst you could be hurting my child. Even if you don’t see it immediately. A reaction can begin up to four days after exposure and cause potentially days or more of discomfort.
Even if they don’t have a reaction, it completely undermines me and is sabotaging my efforts to get my child reaction free so we can better identify their sensitivities, because I’m constantly trialling new things to see how my child tolerates them. It’s like a scientific test – everything you do to affect it is an unknown variable that can throw off our trials and make us stuck in a more limited diet for longer than necessary.
Please respect that I do not want to formula feed. Formula has been shown to increase the risk of allergies, increase the risks of gastrointestinal infections, negatively impact the microbiome (which controls a large part of the immune system).
Breastmilk is the most biologically optimal food for babies and is even more important for those experiencing health problems with its probiotic, prebiotic, anti-inflammatory, immune system regulating factors, amongst many other things that make it the best thing for my child.
Many, many infants who react to multiple foods also react to many if not all of the available hypoallergenic formulas, and hypoallergenic formulas are connected to nutritional deficiencies in infants including increased risk of rickets because they are formulated for temporary use as a medication and not intended for long term use as a primary nutritional source, even though they are often prescribed as such. If you want more information on breastfeeding and allergies, the academy for breastfeeding medicine lines out a protocol for nursing infants with allergies, which I will link below.
Alongside your trust and respect I would love your support. Please be mindful of the ways I’ve asked you to trust me and respect my choices above when you try to support me. Often to me support may look different to you.
To me, support is: seeing that I may be struggling, anxious, moody, stressed about my child’s health and giving me a hug or just saying, “I see you and I know you’re doing your best for your child and I’m here if you ever want to talk about it, even if I don’t understand it.”
To me, support is: loving me and not telling me I’ve lost weight. It is hard to keep up the calories on a restricted diet and I’m trying my best.
To me support is: not telling me I look tired when the chances are my child’s been ill all night reacting to something so I haven’t slept much, if at all.
To me support is: inviting me around and having your place allergy safe, clean, no crumbs for little fingers. Knowing what some of my little ones environmental (dust/pet/fragrance/balloons etc) and food triggers (dairy/eggs/nuts etc) are so you can make a safe environment for us to get out of the house. Maybe plan a meet up in a low risk public place. While understanding picnics or other food centred events are probably on our “no can do” list.
To me support is: being someone I can trust to look after my little one, without being worried about you thinking you know better and offering them unapproved foods, so I can do anything from bulk cooking to having a nap or popping the shops.
If my child has anaphylactic allergies support can be taking the time to know their medications and how and when they would be needed; showing me you are aware of their symptoms and won’t hesitate to give them potentially life saving medication in an emergency situation.
To me support is: not agreeing with doctors who often know little to nothing about breastmilk/breastfeeding pushing powdered alternatives on us as a plaster to cover the issues of their symptoms, completely ignoring that there is something bigger found on.
To me support is: not telling me all about the research about early exposure to allergies, when my child already has allergies. Prevention only works for those who don’t already have the problem.
To support me is: being positive with mindfulness, praising my efforts, praising my little ones development for their own achievements without comparing them to any other children.
To support me is: being positive with hope for the future, not saying they’ll grow out of it in a flippant way that undermines our struggles and efforts to improve our child’s quality of life now.
To me support is: not giving recommendations, for example that you heard your hairdresser’s cat was healed from eczema using a magic cream, or that your uncle’s brother-in-law healed their allergies using this amazing supplement or on a healing trip to the beach. I get that you’re trying to be helpful, I really do, and sometimes I might ask for ideas, and I might even appreciate an occasional link with more information…
BUT I am absorbed in this world of looking after my child, researching my eyeballs out, finding solutions and trying different things. I’ve probably tried the miracle cream or the supplement. If I haven’t, I’ve probably come across information which has deemed it unsuitable for us, for example an ingredient is a known allergen or its age suitability is not approptiate. I can’t afford a healing holiday. This diet and pursing healing is very expensive already. The stress of organising a trip and enough safe food to pack to take with me, or figuring out how to eat on the way there, or if there’s a shop near by selling any if our X number of safe foods. It’s all infinity more complex with our current limitations.
I do not do this for fun and giggles.
Whether I’m a first time parent or a fifth, I am doing my absolute best for my child and all I need from you as my friends and family who I love, is your unconditional love, trust, respect and support in this difficult time of our lives.
With love from,
One of the many hungry mamas out their doing their best for their little ones.
Seeking a little trust, respect and support to make the journey easier.
The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine,
Protocol 24, Allergic Proctocolitis in the Exclusively Breastfed Infant: