Breastfeeding my baby was always something I was sure I was going to do. Without a doubt, I was determined to make myself a milk machine for my child. My decision to do so was because of research, recommendations, and the “norm” of breastfeeding.
I prayed every day during my pregnancy for God to bless me with the opportunity to breastfeed my child. It was one of my biggest worries since there are lower chances of successful breastfeeding for mothers who had/have PCOS. By God’s grace, I was able to breastfeed my baby as soon as I gave birth and establish a good supply within a month. (on my 2nd month postpartum, I was already pumping 5oz per session every 3-4hours!)
However, due to a lot of ups and downs, I had to finally exclusively formula-feed my baby and stop breastfeeding and giving breastmilk all-together on her fourth month of life.. and wow, what an experience it has been!
Although it would be easier for me to keep this to myself, I have chosen to share my breastfeeding journey because I have already accepted that IT IS OKAY to formula-feed, it is NOT a lesser form of giving your child the nutrition he/she needs.. and I WILL NOT BE CONSUMED BY MOMMY-GUILT. (I will post about this soon) In my heart, I know that I tried my best.. and with all the learnings, I know I will try again for my next baby. I’ll be more prepared then..
Breastfeeding will and always be a beautiful experience, and I am very grateful that the Lord allowed me to exclusively breastfeed my baby for almost two months. It was very disheartening for me when Janella’s pediatrician finally advised me to give my baby formula instead of breastmilk.
To this day, I still haven’t given up my stored breastmilk in the freezer in hopes that she could maybe take it when she grows a little older.
So what happened exactly? ALLERGIES. severe… severe allergies. (The pictures below aren’t even the worst reactions she’s had! 😬 I realized I deleted almost all her photos when she had her allergies)
For those curious about allergies and when to bring your baby to a doctor, here’s a few things to watch out for:
- Your baby being a little bit fussier than usual (maybe even before he/she develops the tell-tale rash)
- Your baby may have red noticable rashes on her body, particularly along the folds (elbow, back of knees, and neck)
- Your baby’s skin may be warm to touch, scaly, or flaky.
Jet and I have atopic dermatitis.. and although our daughter was born with perfect skin, since she already had the genes, it made her predisposed to atopic dermatitis as well. True enough, her allergies developed during her second month of life. My diet was also partly to blame, since whatever I ate went into the breastmilk she got from me. The main culprit? My Ge Lai (a Chinese custom for postpartum mothers) I think I’ll be modifying my Ge Lai diet for my next children.. haha
Anyway, we went thru a rough rollercoaster from that point.. which involved switching pediatricians, experimenting with milk formulas, consulting various dermatologists (I went to two renowned pedia-dermatologists), and getting advice from pedia-gastrologists (I went to two renowned pedia-gastrologists).
Here’s a summary of what I went through to assure Janella got the nourishment she needed..
- First Month of Life: Exclusively Breastfeeding
- Janella developed allergies at her two month mark
- Her pediatrician attributed her allergies to my Ge Lai diet as it was full of the usual allergens (Chicken, Pigeon, Duck, Chocolate, Chinese Herbs, etc.)
- Second Month of Life: Mixed Feeding with Breastmilk and Cow’s Milk Formula (H.I.P.P Organic)
- Her first pediatrician advised a “cleansing” of my breastmilk and for me to do an elimination diet so I could avoid passing any allergens through my breastmilk.
- Her first pediatrician also advised me to supplement with H.I.P.P Organic Cow’s Milk Formula (Php 700.00/900gs) while I cleansed my milk (a 3-day process)
- Janella’s allergies didn’t improve but worsened! To my shock, her first pediatrician said her allergies were all NORMAL and part of her growth.. I had my doubts so I brought her to the pediatrician who took care of me when I had my bout with atopic dermatitis as a baby.
- Getting second opinions are very important! My old pediatrician, who is now her pediatrician too, took one look at her and He told me that Janella had the same thing I had when I was a baby, a severe cow’s milk allergy. – He even pulled out my old records to look at for reference.
- Third Month of Life: Exclusively Fed with Extensively Hydrolyzed Milk Formula (Nutramigen)
- Looking at my old records helped since I was able to see that the only milk formula that worked for me was Pregestimil by Mead Johnson. (Yes, I was not a breastfed baby)
- My old pediatrician did not tell me to stop breastfeeding but he advised me to store all the breastmilk I could so I could try giving it to her again when she turned 6months..
- In the meantime, I chose to give my baby Nutramigen (P913.00/400gs) by Mead Johnson, an extensively hydrolyzed milk formula. I would have given her Pregestimil too, but her pediatrician advised that she did not need it since she was gaining weight at a very good rate. (Pregestimil is for baby’s who have severe cows milk allergies AND fat-malabsorption problems)
- After just 2 days, her allergies began to subside and it seemed okay… until she developed allergies again at the end of her third month of life..
- Her pediatrician then referred me to her first pedia-gastrologist to verify if she had problems with her digestion.
- The pedia-gastrologist said she had no problems with her digestion but she had to clean out her system in order to take in the right milk she wasn’t allergic to.
- Fourth Month of Life: Mixed Feeding with Extensively Hydrolyzed Milk Formula (Nutramigen) to Exclusively Fed with Amino-Acid Based Formula (Elecare)
- The pedia-gastrologist told me that since she was already allergic to extensively hydrolyzed milk formula, the only milk that could work would be an amino acid based formula. – free of all cow’s milk, any animal-derived milk protein, and soy.
- It was also at this point that I was advised to stop breastfeeding all-together for a month to allow my baby’s system to clear out all the present allergies from the Ge Lai diet and Cow’s Milk.
- Problem was that there was no amino acid based formula available in the Philippines yet. I even called all leading distributors here in the Philippines but they said none of them had the license to import this type of milk.. so I had no choice but to order Elecare from overseas.
- I alternated giving her Nutramigen and Elecare to see if she wouldn’t reject the milk.. thankfully, we transitioned to Elecare with no problems.
- Fifth Month of Life: Exclusively Fed with Amino Acid Based Formula (Elecare/Alfamino)
- By this time, I was down to my last 5 cans of Elecare… suddenly, I received a call from Nestle that they already brought in Alfamino, their amino acid based milk formula! I was so happy that I could somehow save on costs! (Elecare at P2,500.00/400gs vs. Alfamino at P1,936.00/400gs)
- Sixth Month of Life: Exclusively Fed with Amino Acid Based Formula (Alfamino) + Starting Solids
- Currently, my baby is now thriving on amino acid based formula. Although she still has bouts with her atopic dermatitis, her food allergies have also stopped all-together. (atopic dermatitis is more than just food allergies. I’ll post more on this soon as well)
- I also started giving her solid food – baby porridge mixed with Alfamino (follow my instagram @maikadyu for videos of her first tastes of food – she was SOOOO cute)
Imagine if I was stubborn and insisted on breastfeeding? Her allergies could have never gone away… she would have had a problem with gaining weight… and who knows what else?
Believe it or not, it took me a LONG time before I could accept that formula feeding was okay. I was really a believer of “breast is best”. I really struggled with “mommy guilt” for months since I couldn’t give her breastmilk anymore. For a time, I felt like I’ve even failed as a mother. But you know what made it okay for me? seeing my baby healthy and happy.
I am not giving up though! This just gives me more reason to try harder with my next babies 🙂 I really learned a lot from this experience and I plan to breastfeed again, God-willing.
For those of you struggling to follow “what is best” remember, YOU will know what is best for them by addressing what your child specifically needs. Go against the norm if it means keeping your baby healthy.. by doing that, you are the best parent you can be for your child.
I really believe I did what was best given my situation. I haven’t disposed or given away my stored breastmilk yet though so I’m considering reintroducing it to her soon, maybe mix some into her baby porridge! 🙂
All in all, my baby’s allergies can be summed up to these major categories:
- Anything dairy
- Milk (cow’s, goat’s, soy, almond)
- Anything with wings (chicken, pigeon, duck, etc)
- Food Coloring (she would always have an instant reaction if I ate something like a red velvet cupcake and breastfed her an hour later)
- MSG (she would have an allergic reaction if I ate potato chips)
Even though she is okay now, I ask that you also include her in your prayers.. for her to out-grow her food allergies so she can enjoy all the food she wants in the future haha Thank you and much much love from me and my little family!