The worst feeling in the world is the sense of helplessness you feel when your child is in pain or danger and you can’t fix it in that moment.
I know, because I remember the agonizing hours spent with my son RJ, in those early newborn weeks, when he would cry incessantly and I couldn’t instantly take away the pain.
It was gut-wrenching.
In an attempt to relieve the irritation in his stomach, he would expel the milk he had just ingested by “spitting-up”. On occasion, we even witnessed projectile vomiting.
Stress and worry consumed me and my husband as we tenaciously tested different ways to comfort him around the clock. Nothing seemed to help very long.
Singing, dancing, loud music, white noise, patting his diaper, gripe water, loosely fitted clothes, rocking, swaying, upright positions, squatting positions.
Sure he found temporary relief from some of these on occasion, but none prevented his pain and crying. We were only reacting to his discomfort. How could we prevent it?
I knew about ‘colic’ but every cell in my body challenged the idea that he would be crying for “absolutely no reason”.
I started to track my food intake to cross-reference adverse reactions in my son after consuming my breast milk. There was a chance his little belly was having a hard time digesting the protein and lactose that he was ingesting from my breast milk and it was worth a shot to give up my much loved cheese, eggs and milk. I had a goal to breastfeed for one year, so I wanted to do everything I could to supply him with this nutrition while keeping him comfortable.
After hours of research, and talking to my son’s pediatrician, I decided to cut out dairy from my diet completely. I was willing to try anything if it meant my baby would feel better.
After about 6 days into my newly vegan diet (it can take several days to a few weeks to completely eliminate dairy from the body), my little guy was a changed man. My darling became the epitome of the term “happy baby”.
The spit-up reduced by 80%. The crying stopped by 90%. The projectile vomiting completely resolved.
Our hearts sang.
I never imagined such a drastic transformation would occur from such a small change like my diet while breastfeeding.
There is not a doubt in my mind that it was the vegan diet that had everything to do with my baby’s transformation. It took some research, perseverance, and patience. It also took educating myself on food impacts to breast milk and educating others along the way to get the support I needed.
Here are the top 5 changes I made to successfully convert to a vegan diet until my baby’s stomach matured enough to handle dairy:
- Convert to Almond Milk instead of Cow’s Milk. There were several options for cow’s milk replacement such as soy, rice and almond milk. I opted for the almond milk. I have heard that excessive soy intake may interfere with hormones and I don’t like the taste much anyway. I’ve had rice milk in the past but I was more familiar with almond milk. My favorite was Califa Farm’s Unsweetened Almond Milk. I still use it for some of my smoothies. It is delicious.
- Skip out on Eggs. This was a bit challenging for me because eggs are my go-to when I want a quick, filling meal that can be prepared within minutes. Instead, I ate more whole wheat pancakes, cereal with almond milk, and toast. Tofu scrambles were great egg replacements once in a while. Avocados became my best friend for a quick and hearty snack.
- Stock up on vegan-friendly foods from the grocery store. Again, when hunger strikes, especially after a good breastfeeding sesh, what I really wanted was something quick and healthy. Sprouts Farmer’s Market and Whole Foods had some great options. One of my favorite foods on the vegan diet was Amy’s Organic Roasted Vegetable Pizza. It is a cheese-free pizza but it is so phenomenal that I didn’t even miss the cheese. It’s just that good.
- Find some local vegan-friendly eateries. With veganism on the rise, it’s fairly easy to find a vegan restaurant if you live in an urban city. Having a favorite vegan restaurant where you can pick up a good meal or even eat out as a family (when you’re ready to take the baby out…phewf!) makes mealtimes enjoyable.
- Reintroduce dairy and eggs slowly into your diet. Every 2-3 weeks, I would have a small amount of cheese to test out if his body was ready. It was around 5 months of age when he was able to tolerate small traces of dairy in my breast milk. Eggs had a much stronger effect on him, so I waited until he showed full acceptance of cheese before reintroducing eggs into my diet.
My little man is now 14 months. His favorite foods are cheese and yogurt and he downs these quite happily. He is also now on cow’s whole milk. In case you’re wondering, he didn’t develop any sort of intolerance from my dairy hiatus as some people had warned me. The only side effect we witnessed was a happier, smiley baby.
**I am a mom of two and enjoy sharing my experiences of motherhood with my readers. The information provided on this website, although are researched and backed with personal experience, are presented for inspiration and ideas only. ALWAYS consult a medical professional before introducing new foods to your baby and changing your diet while breastfeeding.