Food Allergies-what’s a parent to do?

Food Allergies are everywhere. In the past few years the number of children diagnosed with food allergies and sensitivities has sky rocketed. Research is ongoing, but one of the theories is that we helped create this problem by avoiding foods in infancy. When I think back to the advice given around introducing solids, we were very cautious. We instructed families to avoid peanuts and nut products for 1-2 years. We skipped the seasoning, the healthier fats, and were generally afraid to give foods that were not overly basic-at least in the beginning. 

Interestingly, other countries did not take this approach to food allergies. In many other cultures, a wide variety of foods is offered as early as 3 months. These foods are mixed together. The foods have spices. And as a result, food allergies are not as prevalent and children are better eaters. Interesting, right?  

So the pendulum has swung back and we are now sending a different message. Pregnant mamas are encouraged to eat a wide variety of foods, including peanut butter. Breastfeeding mothers are also told to eat everything in the hopes that the ever-changing milk taste and scent will improve our countries picky eaters. See this article which I thought was interesting as well: 

http://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/well/2016/03/28/how-breast-feeding-can-broaden-a-childs-diet/?_r=0&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fm.facebook.com%2F

 

Additionally, we hope that there will be fewer food allergies and sensitivities. What a wonderful concept-eat well and your children will benefit when you start at conception and continue throughout their lifetime. Is this a brilliant new idea? I think it is common sense, but what do I know.

 

But the truth is that some of us have food allergies. And this is tricky. Finding foods to eat that will not upset a baby’s tummy, let alone cause and anaphylactic response, is hard. It may seem quite daunting at first. This is because we are creatures of habit and we eat what is familiar to us. So change then becomes hard. 

 

Here is an approach to consider. Pretend you are in another country and you are not familiar with the local foods and produce. Imagine that everything is new and different. You need to look at it, read the label, and do a little homework to figure out how to prepare. It can be a game if you will. There will be success and failure of new recipes. But eventually you get steady on your feet and figure out this new style of eating. See that is not so hard is it?

 

I recently was introduced to a website that I found extremely helpful. http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/page/recipes-diet.aspx

It has so much information that I was immediately impressed. There are recipes, research, links to online support, etc. If you have a child with a sensitivity or food allergy I would highly recommend it.

Do you have any tips?

Calling Breastfeeding Natural Can’t Possibly Decrease Vaccination Rates

Recently there are claims in the medical world that calling breastfeeding “natural” may deter parents from getting their children vaccinated.  This really irritated me. If you read my posts you know that I am pro-breastfeeding and pro-vaccines. But do we really need to blame the language of the breastfeeding movement for anti-vaxxers? Don’t they get slammed enough?
I think breastfeeding is hard. Getting in sync with your baby, figuring all the nuisances, and living through the sleep deprivation is challenging. It can be painful. It is natural for some, but not for others.


Vaccines are simply a man-made way to help humans survive deadly illnesses and diseases. The formulation is studied over and over again to make sure they help protect. The truth of it is that they may or may not be natural.
Vaccinating our children is a choice. Most of us are lucky enough to live in a place that we have excellent medical care. We are given vaccines to keep us healthy. The herd helps those who cannot receive them for medical reasons.
Choosing NOT to vaccinate (for most people) is a choice. In my opinion, an uninformed, selfish choice. Do I risk upsetting others with my statement-absolutely. But sometimes difficult statements need to be made.
My take home message-be informed. Trust medical professionals who undergo years of training and continued re-certification to help care for us all. They give vaccines to their loved ones. They know more than random articles you might find while surfing the net. Have respect for those in your community who cannot be vaccinated.
More importantly-can we please stop blaming the breastfeeding community?!?  Why on earth would using the word “natural” as part of promoting breastfeeding cause others to choose not to vaccinate.  Is there really a connection?
Read the article “Does it hurt to call breastfeeding “natural”?” On http://www.philly.com to see what got me all riled up:

Breastfeeding-Find the Helpers

When I was pregnant with my first child I created images in my head of what the experience of breastfeeding would look like.  It would be a time to connect with my baby, provide nourishment, and share a gift that is really special.  I was lucky.  He got it right from the beginning.  (I think he absorbed the advice that I shared daily with patients-you see I am a Lactation Consultant.)  He nursed like a champion, in fact, it was bottles he was not so fond of, but I digress.
Fast forward two years to when my daughter was born.  She was smaller than her brother and latching was a bit more challenging.  She tended to open her mouth just enough so that it was excruciating (well beyond the 10 second zing that would be considered normal.)  I worked hard to get her to open her mouth wider by applying gentle pressure to her chin and her latch improved within a few days.  Once again, I considered myself lucky.
The truth is that breastfeeding is not instinctual.  It may be natural, but it is not always easy.  And it takes the average Mama about 3 weeks to get it down.  But once that magic happens, it is a truly amazing journey.
Here are some things to keep in mind-
Take A Prenatal Breastfeeding Class.  Learning about Colostrum, the importance of oatmeal, use of breast pumps, and other tips gives you insight.  Information is power.  Get as much information while you are not sleep deprived with a newborn.
 
Get Help Early.  Most hospitals have Lactation Consultants on staff.  They should be able to trouble shoot and offer support.  They can often help you obtain a breast pump through your insurance company.
“Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
-Fred Rogers
Figure Out Who Is On Your Team.  Breastfeeding is a marathon, not a sprint.  You need allies who can support you on days that are difficult.  They are family members who will rub your shoulders.  Friends who will share tips.  And neighbors who will cook you a meal.  Find these team members to help carry you through the tough times.
Go To A Group.  I know support groups can be daunting.  It’s hard to get out of the house, open up to strangers, and participate in discussions.  But the camaraderie and information can be so helpful.  As someone who facilitates two breastfeeding groups, I love to watch friendships develop at my groups.  If you are north of Boston, check out Stork Ready.  Or do a Google search to determine where the closest breastfeeding support group is located.
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Set Small Goals For Yourself.  Preparing to breastfeed for 12 months (the current recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics) is daunting.  When you run into breastfeeding speed bumps it seems like an eternity!  Tell yourself you hope to nurse for a  week, then a month, and then see what happens.  It makes the impossible seem possible.
Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself.  I cannot tell you how many mothers come to see me and blame themselves for low milk supply, giving a little bit of formula, and not loving the whole breastfeeding thing.  Mothers are the most important player on the breastfeeding team.  And making sure that she is ok is crucial.  If you follow me, you know that my saying-“Guilt is a useless emotion so check it at the door.”
Eat Mama, Eat.  Moms who breastfeed need 500 extra calories to produce breastmilk.  Yup!  You read that correctly.  Eat what makes you happy (read chocolate and ice cream on those exceptionally trying days.)  Foods high in protein help Moms have more energy, but a balanced diet is really the best option.  Don’t worry if you get crumbs on the baby’s head-it’s all good!
Reach Out For Support.  Sometimes you need the assistance of a trained Lactation Consultant.  Trouble shooting early can help you avoid pain, fears, and help give you guidance.  As the owner of Joyeux Parenting, I love helping families as they begin their breastfeeding journey.  It is a privilege for me to offer support and help to those who need it most.  If I can help you and your family please call me at (617)970-2154  for more information about my services.

Breastfeeding To Help The Herd

This a great piece written by Katrina Pavlick about the benefits of breastfeeding on a larger scale.

“The data tell us that mothers who breast-feed reduce their own risks for cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Their breast-fed children also have lower chances for chronic diseases, obesity and sudden infant death syndrome. Breast-feeding mothers who work outside the home save their employers money, missing fewer work days, staying in their jobs longer and visiting the doctor’s office less often. A 2010 study featured in Pediatrics claimed that if 90 percent of moms breast-fed exclusively for the first six months of their children’s lives, we could collectively save $13 billion annually in health care costs alone (yes, that’s billion) and prevent the deaths of about 900 individuals each year, almost all of them infants.”

You cannot argue with many of these statistics.  Breastfeeding is so much more than feeding a baby.  It has so many health benefits that we continue to learn more about each day.  Let’s help our babies thrive, by making breastfeeding a priority in our community!

And stay tuned for an announcement in the near future…I am going to start a new breastfeeding support group soon.  Curious?  More to follow friends!

Here is the article from the Chicago Tribune:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-breastfeeding-mommy-wars-chicago-perspec-0402-jm-20150401-story.html

Does Breastfeeding Lower the Risk of Childhood Obesity?

“So, does breastfeeding lower the risk of childhood obesity? My conclusion is yes; but only in infants at higher risk for obesity and are breastfed for longer durations. In addition, as obesity is multifactorial, breastfeeding alone is unlikely to entirely prevent it. This study, however, adds to the evidence that breastfeeding should remain one of multiple recommended practices to stem the obesity epidemic.”  -Larry Noble MD, FABM, IBCLC

This article speaks to the topic of increasing breastfeeding duration not just initiation.  The simple truth is that breastfeeding presents many challenges.  Many families who might be considered to be in the “higher risk for obesity” category face more challenges and have limited resources.  For example, many parents with lower education levels, limited financial resources, and hourly wage jobs are not able to maneuver around those challenges.  They cannot take time away from their job easily to pump.  They don’t truly understand the risk/benefit of breastfeeding long term.  And they are often eligible for WIC which provides formula.  And like many other mothers, they do not have a good support system to help guide them through the difficult moments. Breastfeeding often presents many difficult moments.

As a society, we need to do a better job helping families continue to breastfeed exclusively for longer periods of time.  If we do not we will not see more widespread health improvements related to breastfeeding.  Longer maternity leaves, improved social acceptance of breastfeeding, and more coaching to help families. These supports designed to help families overcome breastfeeding obstacles that they encounter needs to be the norm, not the exception.  Most importantly, we need to provide information and guidance to families in a non-judgmental manner. No one wants to be guilted into breastfeeding.

Did you know that WIC has Peer Counselors who not only educate families about breastfeeding, but offer heartfelt support? Do you know what the Baby Cafe is? Do you know that ZipMilk has a directory of lactation consultants in every zipcode in Massachusetts?

We can do better!  I have said it before and I will continue to say that we have made great strides in some aspects of increasing breastfeeding rates. But we need to push onwards and offer additional ways for mothers to breastfeed their babies for longer periods of time.  And then I hope we can easily say that the increased breastfeeding rates have helped decrease the risk of childhood obesity.

To read the specifics about research related to this topic read this:

https://bfmed.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/breastfeeding-reducing-childhood-obesity-fact-fiction-or-sometimes-2/

Breastfeeding is not Sexy

I have seen a lot of breasts in my career.  As a lactation consultant, that’s my business.  I watch babies nuzzle up to their mothers to get nourishment.  I help mothers figure out how to feed their babies without pain, anxiety, and stress.  And let me tell you the truth, there is no sex appeal in the breastfeeding process.
I have read countless arguments about breastfeeding in public.  I am a little biased of course, but I can’t help but wonder why there is so much attention paid to this topic.  Just let the babies eat!  Let them get their food wherever it makes sense (which is NEVER going to be in the bathroom.)
Truthfully, we have child abuse, Ebola, homelessness, and other major problems in our world.  Why do we need to fight about where a mother can feed, sustain, nurture her child?  Especially because breastfeeding is a wonderful way to combat issues like food insecurity, health issues, and attachment.
I get it, breastfeeding is not for everyone.  It is something that is part of a families individual choice.  But please don’t persecute those who choose the boob!
Check out this piece from the Huffington Post.

The Newborn Weight Tool for breastfed babies

For those of you who struggled with breastfeeding and a newborn who lost weight initially, check this out.  There is a new tool called NEWT.  Deciding when a newborn has lost too much weight immediately after birth is always a tricky topic.  This tool is designed to help determine when supplementation is medically necessary.

I whole heartedly agree with supplementation when it is medically necessary. However, I find that it often is used before that is the case. (I have heard the phrase “Nurse your baby and then give all the formula he will take” for many years. It pains me each and every time I hear it.) This message is not easily erased when a new mother is working so hard to nourish her new baby.  Most new babies lose weight following delivery and get nourished with colostrum.  In most cases, when a mother’s breastmilk comes in around days 3-5, the losing trend is reversed. 

“Our hope for these babies would be that their mothers get good lactation support to improve breastfeeding,” Paul said.  And that is where I come in!  I LOVE being able to support new families reach their breastfeeding goals.  Information delivered in the right way is so much more powerful than formula.  Let’s help these dyads get it right!
For more information refer to this article.