Dec 20, 2011  •  In Aerin, Baby, Motherhood, Parenting, Personal

The One Where I Felt Like I Was Poisoning My Baby

Last week, I wrote that breastfeeding Aerin was going splendidly.

Well, this just goes to show that anything can happen in the wild, crazy journey we call motherhood, because I am no longer breastfeeding.

So what happened?

I had mentioned earlier that Aerin was suffering from 3 different types of skin ailments: eczema, baby acne, and little red bumps that our pediatrician guessed was heat rash.

Aerin developed these skin problems when she was about a week old, and they seemed to keep getting worse and worse no matter what we did.

No only that, she was spitting up and vomiting frequently (I will never forget the Exorcist-like vomiting she performed on my birthday). I know that many babies spit up a lot, but Claire had only spit up a handful of times total since birth — yes, I know we were extremely lucky — so all the upchucking was simultaneously worrying me and driving me crazy.

Then, last Thursday, I just couldn’t take it anymore. Aerin’s skin was so bad that she had pus oozing out of the various bumps on her face. The little girl would cry after every feeding — straight from the breast or from pumped bottled milk — and I felt like I was going to lose my sh*t.

It was at that moment when a thought occurred to me: what if it was my breastmilk that was causing these problems?

So we decided to experiment by only feeding her formula for an entire day.

Within just 6 hours, her skin was looking remarkably better and she was no longer crying after each meal. The change was so significant after the 12-hour mark that we decided to continue with formula for another day, just in case it was a fluke.

And within 48 hours, ALL of her skin problems were gone save for some leftover discoloration blotches. Not only that, she seemed more satisfied after each feeding and was sleeping better.

See for yourself. Look at my beautiful, happy baby!

The problem was obviously my breastmilk.

So I did what any logical, sane mother would do: I cried to my husband, “I am POISONING my baby!”  :cry:

After the emotional outburst (okay, so there were several emotional outbursts), I realized that we needed a plan of action.

I know that very, very few babies are actually allergic to breastmilk and that the most likely culprit was my diet.

I honestly couldn’t think of anything I was eating that could be hurting her, as I was staying away from the major sources of food sensitivities, such as dairy, certain vegetables, and spicy food.

I knew that if I wanted to keep breastfeeding, I would need to go on an elimination diet so that we could determine the source of the sensitivity. But an elimination diet in my situation would be difficult as we would need to purchase, and prepare extra food for me when we already have our hands full with two babies.

J left the decision up to me and told me that he would support whatever I chose to do.

I decided to take the easy way out. I decided to quit breastfeeding.

And that was that.

22 Responses to “The One Where I Felt Like I Was Poisoning My Baby”

  1. So glad this story has a happy ending!! Love her little face!! I say excellent choice. It could have taken months (and much more face break out and pain) to figure it out!!! Go Mama!

  2. I’m glad you figured this out – there is nothing wrong with the easy way either. Sometimes you need to cut yourself a break :)

    And I love that you titled this like a Friends episode!

  3. That’s such a shame that she took to breastfeeding so well but it caused her so many issues! What a bummer. But nothing wrong with doing what’s best for her and for your sanity–elimination diets could take forever, and you have so much on your plate already! So glad little Aerin is doing better!

  4. Good for you for just saying forget it. I was intrigued when I was reading along, wondering if you were going to go through with it. Sometimes you just have to say no.

    I had a friend who did the elimination diet. Not only was she miserable for 8 months, she also lost too much weight because she wasn’t able to keep enough calories in her to fulfill herself and her baby so her body suffered.

  5. Tiffany:

    So glad you just did what works for you! I probably would have felt guilty, but have done the same thing. If she’s doing great on formula, let her have formula. Life is crazy enough with TWO young babies so I don’t think it would make any sense to add to that a special diet and mystery game!

  6. Both my sis and I were formula-fed from birth and neither one of us have any allergies and rarely get sick. We aren’t obese/overweight or anything like that compared to our peers. Hmm extremely unhappy, itchy, uncomfortable breastfed baby or happy, healthy, full baby? An elimination diet could’ve taken you weeks to figure out. Motherhood is hard as it is, why make it even harder on yourself? I think you made the right decision. :)

  7. I dont think that was the easy way out at all. With the way breastfeeding is almost militantly pushed on new moms, it’s a very difficult decision to quit. And not to make you feel bad, but it seems formula is healthier for her than your milk. So how is that a cop out? Charlie decided to self-wean at 3.5 months. That may sound crazy, but she was screaming at every feeding and literally vaulting herself away from my body. She wanted none of it. She would take milk from a bottle, but i do not pump well at all. Maybe 6 ounces the whole day. So i took 15 pills a day, drank gallons of tea to increase my supply. Finally I realized it was enough. I had to sacrifice time with my baby to spend hours pumping. So, I quit. And Charlie is happier, healthier and sleepier. And so am I!

  8. oh i’m so glad things are better and that you found a solution!

  9. I’d quit too. I have a friend who won’t eat salt, onions, garlic, pepper, or tomatoes because they seem to affect her baby. While I respect it, it makes her life terribly hard IMO. She can’t go out to eat, can’t even eat most home cooked things. I KNOW I would do the same as you. It’s the more practical choice, not the easier one.

  10. Meredith:

    Love the title! Just wanted to say that I’m glad you figured out how to make Aerin feel better and I’m sorry you had a meltdown. I am constantly putting blame on myself for things outside of my control and would have totally cried in bed for hours in your situation. Thanks for being brave and honest. :-D

  11. JamieH:

    I’m so glad that your baby is feeling better!

    My baby had similar issues. I ended up doing an elimination diet when my baby was two months old. I had to cut dairy, soy and berries out of my diet for six months in order to continue breast feeding. I am also a vegetarian, so eating out was mostly impossible. Any time I would accidentally eat something that had even the smallest amount of dairy or soy (for example, items that said “may contain traces of dairy or soy”), I had an eczema covered fussy baby again. Luckily my little guy is ten months now and over his sensitivities and still nursing. Looking back, though, I don’t know if I would do it again. And if I had another baby at home, I DEFINITELY would not do it. And I am one of those moms that loves loves loves nursing. So, good for you! I’m glad you have found something that works for both of you. :)

  12. Kim:

    Aerin is absolutely beautiful! I’m glad she’s feeling better!

  13. Christina:

    I had a similar issue. Although I was already supplementing due to lack of supply, my kiddo has a milk/soy protein intollerance, so special formula it is. Also, he seems to be intollerant to corn, which is in EVERYTHING and not listed as a possible allergen. Fantastic.
    Did you have to use a special formula? I hope not, but I am so glad she is better. Just a tip though, my son seemed to get much better when we switched formulas, then 2 weeks later, BAM, same symptoms. The ped told me this is because the makeup of the formula is different and it shocks, for lack of a better word, the system long enoug to imrpove symptoms before the body begins to react again. It took one more formula change, but we are all better now. If Aerin has a flare up in a few weeks, don’t panic, she may just need a new formula.

  14. You are practical and I love it. And I knew the Friends reference right away, LOL.

    I hope that what Christina referenced doesn’t happen to you!

  15. raggedy-anne:

    glad you found a solution to aerin’s skin problems! i learned something new from this blog entry: some babies are allergic to breast milk. wow. who would’a guessed?

    and it would’ve taken forever to isolate the problem through diet. it could also be products you use like shampoo or soap or some catch like that. thanks for an informational entry!

  16. Well, that stinks! I’m so glad that you figured this out and she’s happy & healthy!

  17. There is nothing wrong with the easy way. I wonder when we got it in our heads that right meant easy? It doesn’t. I have to remind myself of that all the time.

  18. Erin:

    Yay!! I suggest reading (or really just reading about) the book Is Breast Best? by J.B.Wolf. I heard her speak at a conference once and was blown away by how weak the research is that claims breast milk is superior. Everyone also seems to ignore that there was a significant time in American history where around 80% of babies were exclusively formula fed – and we did not see a shift in the IQ curve, or changes in diabetes/obesity/allergies as a result.

    I breast fed my only son (now 4.5 months) until he was 11 weeks old. He liked it, but he slept through the night and my boobs wouldn’t. I can not handle sleep deprivation and it was just cruel how for FIVE weeks my baby would sleep soundly from 7pm to 5:30am and yet I was up every hour for fresh ice for my boobs. They were engorged every night and the lactation consultant said they’d adjust – but after 5 weeks they hadn’t, and we switched to formula. It took an entire month before my boobs stopped leaking, but I am very glad we made the switch. I’m well rested now and enjoying motherhood much more.

  19. Yn:

    Hi there

    Happy to have found your blog. I have a 3 month old baby with eczema. Started when she was 6 weeks with dry scaly skin and some red patches. Now she’s got some weepy spots – behind her knees, insides of elbows, neck, behind ears. I’ve treated some of these with 1% steroids but it re surfaces.

    I am breastfeeding too and have cut out eggs, dairy, nuts, citrus and tomatoes. However I’ve not seen an improvement in her condition, Could I ask if you fed your baby a special formula?

    Also saw the post on apple cider vinegar. Does it work on weepy areas? How long should I try it for? Thanks for your advice.

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