Breastfeeding & Allergies

Hello Friends! I haven’t given up on blogging for TOBB, my life is as busy as you can imagine and while I often compose blogs in my head, it is the actual sitting down and typing that eludes me. Recently I put a question out there on face book for your breastfeeding questions and I thought I would tackle this one. Hope you find it helpful!
“I just found out I’m pregnant with my second child. My first has countless, severe food allergies, and I want to do everything I can to avoid this in my second child by breastfeeding for as long as possible while eating a hypoallergenic diet myself.  I had breast reduction surgery while in high school, and although my surgeon told me I’d be able to breastfeed, the hospital’s pediatrician told me after my son’s birth that I would not. (She didn’t watch me breastfeed or examine me at all, but she was very frank in telling me it wouldn’t work.I freaked out and supplemented with formula from the beginning, and lost all milk supply three months later, between the stress of returning to work and of navigating a full-body eczema/ totally allergic baby situation. (Doctors were of little use, and the scene got a lot worse before it got better. Long story short, my son is now thriving, thanks to Traditional Chinese Medicine and a limited diet). I know the advice I received from doctors with my son made his food allergies worse — he was exposed to many foods he shouldn’t have been, far too soon, given his digestive situation — and, although he was also reacting to what I was eating, via my breast milk, I know I can control what my second kid is exposed to by limiting my own diet. Many moms of food allergy kids have a lot of success by breastfeeding this way.
So, the stakes are high, and I really, really want to breastfeed my next baby exclusively for at least six months, hopefully even a year. Donated milk isn’t really an option in the event this doesn’t work out, as another mother may be eating nuts, wheat, and other allergens. (If push comes to shove, I do get raw cow’s milk, and have heard formulas can be made from this, but I’d like to bf instead.) I did produce breast milk with my first, and he did nurse, but since I went to formula so quickly, I don’t know if I produced enough at the outset to sustain him, or what. I bet I could have, but the doctor scared me, and I didn’t want my child to not receive enough milk. Do you have any ideas on how I can, even after breast reduction surgery, get off to a great start breastfeeding my next child, and really make it work? “
Firstly, congratulations on baby #2! Second, so proud that you have made the commitment to breastfeed as long as possible! Women with a history of breast surgery (reduction and enhancement)  can still breastfeed. It will determine of course where the surgical scars are for scars around the nipple it is best to allow at minimum 2 years between surgery and conception to allow milk ducts to regrow and connect. For a pediatrician to say that you couldn’t breastfeed without doing an exam is careless. In order to ensure successful breastfeeding you should allow on demand feedings with lots of skin to skin contact. Your baby should be watched closely for appropriate wet diapers (at least 6/day by day six of life) and stools ( at least one yellow mustard poop/day but more is good too) your baby should seem content between feeding and should be closely monitored by a lactation consultant for weight checks. Your baby should be back to birth weight by day 14 but could lose as much as 8-10% before then. Have faith in your body it created and sustained life for 9 months and will produce milk when given the chance.
As far as breastfeeding and allergy is concerned: all babies should be exclusively breastfed for 6 months, infants who come from families with severe allergy should be exclusively breastfed for longer up to one year with mom’s avoiding highly allergenic foods. Your breast milk coats your baby’s intestines with a protective layer which keeps out microscopic food particles with allergy potential from entering into your baby’s bloodstream and eliciting a response.  Protection from allergies is one of the most beneficial things breastfeeding does.  If you are concerned try to stay away from highly potential allergens cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, corn, pork and shellfish while nursing. Find a supportive lactation consultant who you can develop a relationship with and inform your pediatrician that you will be working with one because you want to be successful breastfeeding, if they aren’t supportive find a new one. Good Luck Mama!
Molly is a mama to 3 (and needs to update her photo to include the latest!)  She works part time as an obstetric nurse and lactation consultant. She is allergy free thanks to her years and years and years (thanks mom) of breastfeeding.