Wednesday, February 17, 2016

dairy free while breastfeeding

[ special note: This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions and thoughts are my own, all of the time. By purchasing products through these links, I may receive a small commission; however, your cost for the item does not change. I hope you'll continue to visit Littles and Life! ]

{Before I start, please remember that my journey does not replace medical advice. If you have any concerns about your little babe, please contact your pediatrician.}

I've had a ton of people ask me about why I went dairy free while breastfeeding, along with how in the world I did it.

It's hard. When you go dairy free, you have to be extremely diligent. Dairy is in way more than people think. It's not just your basic cheese, cream, milk, yogurt, etc. It's in bread, chicken nuggets, processed food, breaded food, granola bars- it's even in taco seasoning. Yes, you heard me right. TACO SEASONING. I could make a list of about 2956 things that have dairy in it.

Lilli is not allergic to milk protein or soy, nor does she represent a typical dairy allergy. But she does have severe acid reflux. And when I mean severe, I mean it put her in the hospital because the acid blocked off her airways.

When we were in the hospital, they had to put her on some crazy expensive and fancy formula for a few days. Breastmilk is so thin that the second it touched her belly, it came right back up. I knew she needed it for her health but it killed me thinking of her not getting my milk (oh, + I 110% support formula feeding. Totally not my case here. I just wanted her to have my milk. End of story. #fedisbest). We had to keep her on that formula until the medicine kicked in and worked for about a week, after which I could breastfeed her.

After that week, I breastfed Lilli for the for first time, and it really didn't go so well. She screamed after feedings, and she was spitting up so much that I was worried she wasn't getting any at all. I had talked to the pediatrician and he kept saying that it wasn't necessary to cut anything out of my diet, other than caffeine. So for another week, I cut out caffeine and listened to Lilli scream all day every day.

The following week, I went to my breastfeeding mom's group and told them everything that was going on. One of our lactation consultants (they are seriously angels) immediately advised me to cut out dairy. She said that even if they aren't allergic to it, little babe's with acid reflux usually benefit from mom's cutting dairy out because it can trigger and/or aggravate reflux. Lilli was crying so much at that point, I would try anything to help her. So, that day mid-November, I cut out all dairy.

After about a week, I noticed that Lilli went from spitting up almost all of her milk to only a few drops. Then after two weeks, I noticed that she stopped spitting up completely, other than the occasional spit up. 

I made sure to examine my diet extremely carefully. I noticed that on the days I had chocolate or spicy food, it would aggravate her reflux, so I ended up cutting those out, too.

I have had so many people say to me, "Why don't you just give her soy formula?"

Because breastfeeding is extremely important to me. Lilli and I struggled through so many obstacles to get to the point of being able to breastfeed exclusively and I didn't want to give it up. 

"Well, this little bit of dairy won't hurt."

It will, actually. I have accidentally eaten something that contained dairy a couple times, and trust me, it hurt.

"What do you even eat?"

What I can. I did extensive research and I check every label before I eat something. 
It's extremely hard some days. Okay, more than some days. I have to plan ahead for every meal and snack. We rarely eat out because it's just too hard to figure out what has dairy in it and what doesn't. 

But, it definitely has gotten easier over time. It becomes second-hand nature to double check ingredients and to know what does and doesn't have dairy without looking. It has also become easier finding things that I love that are dairy free- like almond milk ice cream and Larabars!

While it may be hard, it is so worth it. I love knowing that by me cutting foods out of my diet, I'm helping her. Instead of using 10 different medicines, I cut a trigger out of my diet. (side note- we do still have to use medicine for the time being due to the severity of the reflux. But we only have to use one instead of multiple! UPDATE: we are no longer on any reflux medicine - yay!) + it's soooo much cheaper. SO much. That's definitely a huge bonus in my book!

If you have to cut dairy out of your diet, just remember, YOU CAN DO IT. You are stronger than those cheese cravings! ;) And remember- it's only temporary. Most moms are able to start introducing dairy back into their diet when baby starts solids (UPDATE - After Lilli started solids, after a few months I was able to introduce dairy back into my diet slowly. We eventually got to the point where I could have a small amount of dairy each day and we'd be okay!).

Read here about tips to cutting dairy out of your diet.

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to comment below or email me and I'll make sure to get back to you! I've also linked some of my favorite dairy free snacks for you.


  1. good for you, mama! we had issues with breastfeeding at first, too, albeit different ones.. and exclusively breastfeeding my daughter was really important to me, too. <3 it's hard for sure, but it's not forever! you're doing great

    1. Thank you, love! I appreciate the encouraging words. <3