By Trill Paullin, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, Free to Feed ∘ Military Veteran ∘ Breastfeeding Mother of 2
Many parents struggle in their breastfeeding journey. We know breast milk does an amazing option for our babies – yet the support and guidance are lacking significantly. Another huge issue is the amount of misinformation regarding breastfeeding and newborn babies.
Why does society make it even harder on families by sharing misinformation?
This is more prevalent when infant food allergies are involved. The journey of parenthood is hard enough. Throw in baby food reactivity and your world just turned upside down.
Below we’ll debunk common lies breastfeeding parents are told. We will flip the script to empower everyone through their breastfeeding journey!
1) MYTH: The Food You Eat Does Not Transfer to Your Breast Milk
FACT: Many scientific publications, dating back before the 70s, show that this is false. Maternal food proteins can and do transfer to breast milk. This myth leads to mothers assuming that it must be their breast milk eliciting a response and they unnecessarily stop nursing.
When we stop nursing it can interfere with breastmilk supply and the baby returning to the breast. Your baby is not allergic to your breast milk! Reactivity to breast milk is incredibly rare and caught at the hospital immediately after birth due to the mass amounts of complications it creates. Instead, your baby is reacting to a specific type or types of protein source that is transferring to your breast milk.
Click here for a link to view a list of publications showing that specific portions of what we eat CAN and DO transfer to our breast through the circulatory system!
2) MYTH: Ingested Food Proteins Stay in Your Breast Milk for Weeks
This myth leads to the end of breastfeeding for many because their milk will “poison” their baby for weeks and any accidental exposures are incredibly stressful. It’s hard to know what to do because even some medical providers recommend women to stop breastfeeding to “clear” their system of food proteins.
This means, those who want to continue breastfeeding their baby with food allergies switch to formula and continue to pump to not lose their supply. Talk about adding a lot more to the parent’s plate – and for no reason!
We believe in science-based facts and this myth honestly drives us crazy because we know the truth. This leads to unnecessary stress on families who are trying to help their babies.
3) MYTH: Colic is Normal in Breastfeeding Babies
Colic is generally defined as crying for 3 or more hours per day, at least 3 days a week, for at least 3 weeks. Many parents are told colic improves around 3-4 months of age.
But we’re breaking out of that outdated theory. Because we believe you know if something is wrong with your baby!
There is no definitive answer for why colic occurs in some babies and not others but the top possible contributing factors include:
Lip or Tongue-tie
Undeveloped digestive tract
Infant food reactivity
Imbalance of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract
Baby food allergies or intolerances made the list, yet many parents struggle to get answers or solutions for their babies with food allergies. You’ll also notice the trend of digestive issues behind colic. If you aren’t sure whether your baby’s stool is normal, definitely check out Free to Feed’s popular Diaper Decipher resource!
Colic is commonly not a diagnosis, but a symptom that should be investigated. This leads to infants being in unnecessary pain, leaving families exhausted and confused.
4) MYTH: Probiotics Are the Answer to Your Baby’s Gastrointestinal Issues
First, as for supplements, they’re not regulated as strictly as food or medication which can lead to an increased possibility of hidden allergens such as cow’s milk protein (dairy) and soy. Not all babies react to “hidden” allergens (those from derivatives less likely to be clearly labeled) but for the ones that do – this can make your hard work of eliminating the food out of your diet go to waste.
Second, probiotics may mask actual food reactivity symptoms. Masking symptoms can lead to continued exposure to the trigger food when the best course of action is avoidance. You don’t want to put a bandaid on your breastfeeding baby with food allergies, you want to solve the problem.
5) MYTH: Formula Is the Only Option When Your Baby Has Food Allergies
For many, formula is not an option. Babies may react to elemental formula, reject either bottles or the formula outright when trying to quickly switch from breast milk. Learn more about finding the right hypoallergenic formula in the Free to Feed blog.