Many mothers struggle in their breastfeeding journey. If we know that breast milk is what is best for the infant, when it is an option, then why do we make it even harder on mothers by sharing misinformation? This is all the more prevalent when infant food intolerances/allergies are involved. Here, we breakdown common lies we tell breastfeeding mothers and how we can flip the script to empower them through their journey. LIE: Ingested food does not transfer to your breast milk! TRUTH: Many scientific publications, dating back before the 70s, show that this is false.Maternal dietary proteins can and do transfer to mom’s milk.This lie leads to mothers assuming that it must be their breast milk specifically eliciting a response and they unnecessarily stop nursing. LIE: Ingested food proteins stay in your milk for weeks! TRUTH: Research shows that a serving of peanut, cow’s milk, wheat, egg, and more all peak around 2-4 hours post-ingestion and steadily decrease after that, resulting in breast milk that is clear of reactivity-inducing protein concentrations after 24 hours.This lie leads to mothers stopping breastfeeding because their milk will “poison” their baby for weeks on end and accidental exposure is incredibly stressful.Read more about this research here. LIE: Colic is normal! TRUTH: While some crying is normal for infants, continuous colic is a red flag that there is often an underlying issue.Colic is commonly not a diagnosis, but a symptom that should be investigated.This lie leads to infants who are in unnecessary pain, exhausted families, and confused nursing mothers. LIE: Probiotics are the answer to your baby’s gastrointestinal issues! TRUTH: While probiotics can be powerful tools, they can often cause more problems than they solve for littles with food intolerances/allergies.First, as supplements they are not regulated as strictly as food and medication which can lead to increased possibility of hidden allergens such as cow’s milk protein and soy.Second, the probiotics may mask actual food intolerance symptoms leading to continued exposure to the trigger when the best course of action is avoidance.Read more about the benefits and possible downsides of probiotics here. LIE: Formula is the only option! TRUTH: Thousands continue to breastfeed through infant food intolerances/allergies.Determining the trigger and continuing to breastfeed by eliminating that food is a viable option.In fact, for many formula is not an option.Children may react to even elemental formula, may reject bottles or the formula outright, and/or parents may not feel comfortable feeding their little a corn-syrup based, highly processed and incredibly expensive powder.Read more about how parents can navigate elimination diets here. Takeaways Surely, we can all do better to empower women to continue breastfeeding through infant food intolerances/allergies. While there are always instances where formula is best for maternal and infant well being, we challenge that it should be done with full disclosure of actual facts. Giving parents the knowledge they need to make educated decisions should always be the goal.
Meet the Author:
Trill Paullin, Ph.D.
Infant Allergy & Intolerance Expert
Dr. Trill is a Molecular Biologist and the founder of Free to Feed. She is an expert in breastfeeding through infant food intolerance & allergies. You can find Dr. Trill on SocialMama app for any and all of your questions.