Being a first-time mum is crazy, scary, and daunting enough, so imagine being a first time mum during a worldwide pandemic! When I had my daughter, the first few months of breastfeeding went quite smoothly. I felt lucky. But then my little one completely changed; becoming fussy, irritable with bad bowel movements, and a rash. I became concerned that my breastfed baby may have an allergy, but it was days before I could get speaking with a doctor.
Everything was going great in our little booby bubble
I was “lucky” that my daughter latched on very quickly after birth. I say “lucky” because her instinctively knowing what to do was the easy part. Her naked body against mine, she could smell my liquid gold straight away and shimmied down my body to find her magical source of food, hydration and comfort.
We had four weeks of freedom before lockdown began and we spent as much time as possible as a new family of three. My partner was super supportive and was there to pass me our daughter during those very tiring and painful first couple of weeks. He was there to give me snacks, food, and drinks when I needed it. He was there to wipe the tears from being so mentally and physically exhausted from the fourth trimester.
Being an NHS worker it meant he went back to work after his paternity and holiday had ended. It was just me and my girl doing this alone. It went great for another four weeks. We had a good routine, she was content with her booby milk, we napped at the same time, I ate when I had the chance and we were just in our little happy booby bubble.
Out of nowhere she displayed worrying symptoms
Everything was going so well, until all of a sudden she started becoming fussy, irritable, having bad bowel movements, and rashes. All this came out of nowhere.
I knew about cluster feeding, we’d already had moments of that. I knew about baby acne. I knew about ‘the witching hour’, but what was happening to my daughter I just couldn’t put my finger on it.
So I did what any parent would and called the doctors, having to listen to a five-minute recording all about Covid-19. When I finally got speaking to someone, they told me there was a long wait for callbacks, and it would be Friday until I’d get one. It was Tuesday at this point and I was concerned, but I told them to go-ahead and book us in.
That night I found the horrific site of blood in her stools! So on the Wednesday morning I called the doctors again, but it was the same “we’re sorry “response. I was so worried.
Could it be CMPA?
I contacted my health visitor and thank goodness I did. She sent me everything she could think of, mainly to do with CMPA (cows milk protein allergy). I cut dairy out the second I researched it! I loved my dairy, especially cheese, but I loved being able to breastfeed my daughter more.
I loved my dairy, especially cheese, but I loved being able to breastfeed my daughter more.Emily
The doctor finally called me Friday afternoon. I explained everything, and their response was to continue to cut out dairy, “but if this becomes too difficult we do have dairy-free prescribed formula you can use so you won’t have to pay for it”. Thanks, but no thanks. My breast milk is free and gives my daughter exactly what she needs. Thankfully after two weeks of being dairy-free, she got so much better! She was a completely different child!
Nine months on and we’re finally due an allergy test
I have introduced some dairy into my diet and hers, and for the most part she’s okay. She has the occasional peculiar-looking bowel movement and nine months down the line she is going for an allergy test as she had a flare-up during baby-led weaning which concerned a doctor. We will see then if she still has CMPA.
Other than that we have had an amazing nine months of boobing! Knowing I’m giving my daughter exactly what she needs, and I get to enjoy the booby cuddles, especially the sleepy ones (which are by far my favourite), is just amazing. Also, knowing I can comfort her so simply by just ‘boobing on’ is incredible!
I want to help others struggling to breastfeed
Breastfeeding during a pandemic was difficult, but luckily I had the support of my health visitor and an amazing Facebook group to turn to.
I have actually done a social media breastfeeding challenge that went viral here in the UK and even went across the pond to America. On Instagram I’ve just recently set up the hashtag #seekhelptobreastfeed to help those who may need support during these uncertain times. I want to be able to provide support and reassurance to anyone who needs it.
It was always in my plan to breastfeed and I’m glad I continued even through the struggle. Boobing my daughter is the best thing I’ve ever done and I’m beyond proud of myself!
Boobing my daughter is the best thing I’ve ever done and I’m beyond proud of myself!Emily
What is CMPA?
Cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA) can affect people of all ages but is most common in young children. The NHS says around 7% of babies under one-year-old are affected with CMPA, but most grow out of it by the time they are five.
Exclusively breastfed babies develop CMPA as a result of milk proteins from products the mother has eaten transferring through breast milk. Most reactions to cow’s milk protein are mild or moderate, with severe forms of CMPA being very rare. Symptoms may include a red itchy rash, digestive problems, and eczema.
Where CMPA is suspected in a breastfed baby, the recommended treatment is for the mother to remove all sources of products containing cow’s milk from her diet, ideally under medical supervision. If you think your baby is having a reaction to cows’ milk, speak to your doctor as soon as possible.