What it’s like to cut out dairy when breastfeeding

As a new mum I do very little that is just for me.

I occasionally escape the house child-free to get my hair done or meet a friend. For the most part choices are taken out of our hands when we have children. When it comes to going out, you need to pick a family-friendly place, when it comes to playtime your toddler will demand attention so you won’t get to choose a book to read quietly.

However the one thing that I had all to myself every day was food. I had control over what I ate and I could treat myself to chocolate at the end of a stressful day.

That is until a GP suggested cutting dairy out of my diet to see if it helped my baby’s eczema.

My initial thoughts were, “oh no, milk, spread, chocolate!” But it goes even further than that. I was shocked at the sheer volume of foods that have a trace of dairy.

My daughter’s eczema flared up from about two weeks onwards. I’ve written before about how I tried to treat her outbreaks with various creams and bath lotions. However nothing was working at the time and the GP said it could be a dairy allergy.


My daughter’s eczema was causing her discomfort

In order to test the theory he suggested I cut out dairy for three weeks. It takes around two weeks for the dairy to work its way out of your breast milk and out of your baby’s system then you need an extra week to assess the results.

I was extremely dubious about this. Ditching an entire food group, surely that’s bad for nutritional purposes? I was also, selfishly, worried about my diet. Looking at the list of foods containing even trace amounts of dairy, it was clear I am a Dairy Queen!

Here’s a few things I was shocked at the thought of giving up:

Milk chocolate
Dark chocolate
Ice cream and pretty much all other desserts
Various types of bread
Fried food

When you check the food labels it is very surprising to find what has trace amounts of dairy in. So I decided I had to be all-in with this business and I went for it.

My baby’s eczema was by no means the worst type, however it was itching and causing her grief so I really wanted to do whatever I could to help her.

I found a dairy-free spread so I could still have toast and bread. Then I double-checked all products we normally buy in our weekly shop for dairy. Stuff like the chicken pies we normally have for an easy weekday dinner had to go. No making fish pie, as the white sauce is made with milk and butter, and no more buttery mashed potato.

By the end of week one I was not a happy bunny. It’s really hard work losing so many of our favourite foods when you’re sleep deprived too. It’s like kicking someone when they’re down. Sorry, you’re really tired you say? Well you can’t have this lovely piece of chocolate cake either!

I tried soya milk in week two. It is the most un-milk-like product ever. Never again.

I managed to make it to two weeks and six days before I waved the flag. My baby’s eczema had got no better. I’m ashamed to say I was almost relieved at this!

So I was back on the dairy and an epic Dairy Milk binge commenced!

Talking to other mum friends, I was surprised at just how many had tried cutting out dairy. Most found it made zero difference but one did find it cured her baby’s eczema flare-ups.

So it’s certainly worth trying, after discussing it with your GP first.

As for my daughter’s eczema, it is getting better all by itself every day. She has just a few patches of red here and there as opposed to the giant, angry patches she had a couple of months ago. I would say what has worked is time, bathing her just once a week and Dermalex baby eczema cream. A bit of hydrocortisone cream on the really bad patches has helped too.

We have an appointment with a dermatologist at our local hospital next month. Maybe it will be all gone by the time we get to that point.

However one thing I am glad of is if they do suggest cutting out dairy, I can tell them to keep their mitts off my chocolate stash.

Have you got a child with eczema? What did you find worked to treat it?


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