Breastfeeding Saved My Highly Allergic Baby: An Important Lesson from LLLI

I've just come across this amazing story on the LLLI website showing yet again how wonderful breastfeeding is and how we as breastfeeding mothers and supporters must not allow ourselves to be bullied into quitting.

The story fascinated me particularly as my eldest daughter suffers from allergies and was recently diagnosed with a severe grass pollen allergy for which she was prescribed a treatment called Grazax and which she must continue for the next three years.

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Lots of New Stuff on Breastfeeding Mums!

writing It may seem as if I've forgotten all about this blog lately but I really haven't! It's just that over the last few months I've been busily adding lots of new articles and useful resources to

Regular visitors will probably have noticed that I haven't been blogging so much about breastfeeding lately and while it's true, it doesn't mean I'm no longer interested! Although I'm not breastfeeding anymore I'm still keen to get the message out there that it's the best way to feed your child.

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Breastfeeding - Starting out Right!

BreastfeedinghomepageIt's vitally important to get breastfeeding off to a good start for it to be successful - so I was delighted to receive this breastfeeding story from Marie at Sweet Nursing over the weekend.

Like me, Marie is another mother who has turned breastfeeding into a whole new career for herself; a result she helps many mums get over their fear and discomfort of breastfeeding in  public by providing them with the most amazing breastfeeding ponchos and nursing covers! (I'll be reviewing one of her ponchos soon so watch this space!)

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Carnival of Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding Problems

Welcome once again to the Carnival of Breastfeeding. This month's topic is breastfeeding problems and, as you would expect, all the posts deal with problems breastfeeding mothers have encountered and how they dealt with them! In addition they also look at the online support they found useful.

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Breastfeeding Stories Shared: Breastfeeding and Allergies

Breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from allergies and I'll happily admit that for me this was one of the many reasons that I chose to breastfeed.

Every year I am plagued with hayfever and using certain cleansing products has been known to bring me out in a rash of angry red hives. As there's also a family history of psoriasis and asthma in both my own and my husband's family the beneficial effects of breastfeeding in order to lessen my childrens chances of suffering from any of these illnesses/ allergic reactions was paramount to me.

Here's an interesting story I received recently concerning that very topic:

Breastfeeding and Allergies


I have four children (8 yrs to 2yrs), all of whom were breastfed. My youngest has allergies to dairy products, eggs and some nuts. Because my eldest child also has allergies, I was on the alert for them in my youngest, and when feeding her dairy products produced hives around her mouth, I immediately stopped. Up until the point where I started weaning her, she had some eczema.

It became obvious that the milk allergy was a bit nasty; if one of her siblings kissed her with buttery lips, she would come up in hives. After getting various non-committal answers from GP'S, I decided that as she couldn't tolerate any cow's milk, I would carry on breastfeeding, but cut from my diet all the things to which she was allergic. It was not a miracle cure, but after about 3 months you wouldn't know she had eczema. When she would finally take a special hypo-allergenic milk by the age of one, I could stop breastfeeding. As soon as she was on that milk, any trace of eczema disappeared and has not returned.

She still has all her allergies, but my point is that if a child is known to have allergies, then if the breastfeeding mother eats those allergens, they will be passed on through the milk, at least that is my experience. No GP or Consultant that I saw would agree with me; they just nodded at my interesting theory.

In response to my daughter's allergies I have created a recipe blog, everything is egg-free, dairy-free, soya-free, mainly gluten-free, and yummy! Do drop by and have a look:

If you'd like to share your pregnancy and/ or breastfeeding story and gain some extra visibility for your website or blog or just some personal recognition for yourself, email it to me and I'll select the best to publish both here and on!

Breastfeeding Mother?

I mentioned in a previous post that we'd just returned from a family holiday to Co Clare on the West Coast of Ireland. Well, here's a story I brought back with me that I thought may interest all you breastfeeding mothers!

On the second day of our holiday we were all feeling a little peckish after inhaling the fresh sea breeze and dallying along the shore for a short while. As we wandered aimlessly up the hill towards town, we decided to pop in for a quick (it's always quick when you have three children in tow!) bite to eat in a quirky little cafe we'd noticed on our way.

As we found some seats, another couple and their beautiful little baby sat behind us. Now Jack, our two year old, is going through a clean phase, which I'm sure won't last for long, and he was busily rubbing his hands together and repeating, "Wash hands, wash hands" as he tried to get the sand off them! Well as you can imagine this caught the attention of the other family and it wasn't long before we got chatting. We discovered that, like us, this family was also on a rather rainy holiday with their five month old daughter, a very alert and pretty little girl who was taking a great interest in her pram toy and who Jack was rather taken with!

After chatting briefly about where we came from and places to visit, our food was served.

As we proceeded to eat, out of the corner of my eye I noticed the baby next to us getting a little restless. "Hmm," I pondered, "I wonder if she's a breastfed baby..." but I refrained from asking as I didn't want to be nosey!

Funnily enough it wasn't just the baby's behaviour that made me think this but also the reaction of her parents. As the mum of three breastfed babies I've always noticed how they got restless the moment I even thought about eating! And as a breastfeeding mother whose babies often wanted fed in places where I didn't feel particularly comfortable about feeding, such as in a cramped and packed tourist cafe, I instinctively felt that perhaps I was right!

However, what happened next really gave the game away... the baby's parents began speaking to one another in rather urgent hushed tones and I got the impression they were just waiting for the baby to start howling. And since I've been in that very same situation oh-so-many-times myself I couldn't help but feel sincere empathy for them both.

In the same situation I often found myself swinging between thoughts of paying for the untouched food and dashing for the privacy of my car to feed my hungry baby or gulping down the food whilst trying to hold off the battle-cry with any and every implement of distraction at hand!

Even in a packed public place like the one we were in, I often felt very much alone as I wrestled with my conscience over what was the right thing to do - should I just go ahead and breastfeed knowing probably no-one would notice and even if they did, so what? Or should I just try to get out of the place and feed somewhere more private and less intimidating for me and my baby?

Ironically as I sat there relating to our new friends, Jack was displaying his own breastfed baby behaviour - tugging at my tea-shirt, breathlessly pleading for "Mama Juice" whilst my husband and I both tried our own distraction techniques - "Look at the wee baby, Jack... Aww isn't she lovely?" "Mama Juice, Mama Juice..."

These days, because of Jack's age however, I rarely dare to feed in public anymore - partly because I've never really felt entirely at ease doing so, partly because we're in serious weaning mode right now (which is not going down too well with him!), but mostly because I realise for Jack breastfeeding has really become more habit/ comfort than actual hunger or thirst (ie, he often polishes off his dinner, downs a glass of water and then sidles up to me with an adorably cute smile on his face and whispers his favourite words!)

When we'd finished our meal and got up to leave, I turned to say goodbye to the family and we got chatting again. As I was telling the mother of the baby how I'd had an early start with Sarah waking me at 5.45am demanding breakfast and that Jack had been up a few times too, she questioned why Jack had been up. As I proceeded to confide that Jack was still breastfeeding her eyes lit up as she too confided that her baby was was also breastfed and that was what had been wrong with her during the meal. We both laughed as I told her of my suspicions that her baby wanted a breastfeed and we joked how easy it must be if you could just have a bottle at the ready for those awkward moments!!

When I mentioned that I ran a breastfeeding website and gave her my card she exclaimed with amazement that she'd already come across it... What a truly small world we live in!

So if you're reading this Mary, I trust Isabel is keeping well and that the breastfeeding continues to go wonderfully for both of you! Who knows - perhaps we'll bump into one another again somewhere a bit warmer and drier next year!! And maybe Isabel will still be breastfeeding and you'll be another breastfeeding mum with an uncanny ability to pinpoint all the breastfeeding families around you!

Breastfeeding Stories Shared: Breastfeeding Through Recurrent Mastitis

I received this lovely story some time ago and it reminded me how I refused to give up breastfeeding after recurrent bouts of Mastitis! If you feel inspired to share your story, email me and I'll get back to you as soon as I get a chance! You can find a few pointers on my homepage.

Breastfeeding Through Recurrent Mastitis

I did not think much about breastfeeding before my first son was born; I knew I had been breastfed as a child, and that my mum had wanted to feed my older sister but had been told by the hospital that she couldn't because she was too fair-skinned. (She was told her to take drugs to take away her milk, and that was the end of that!)

When people asked me, "How long are you planning to breastfeed?", I would say, "Oh, I don't know - perhaps four months". The culture here in Ireland is very pro-formula and anti-breastfeeding; it seems to be seen as "dirty" or somehow shameful - especially feeding beyond 6 months, and particularly in public.

So, after a 20 hour labour with pethidine and the stitch-up from hell (1 1/4 hours of stitching with a local anaesthetic that didn't work, and no epidural available because it was "out of hours" - women in that situation are not seen as a high priority for pain relief!) during which I screamed the whole time, my newborn baby son was not in the mood for feeding. He had also swallowed a lot of fluids during the birth and spent the first two days vomiting them up again.

Every time we tried to latch on, he screamed and refused the nipple. He did not latch on for three days, became jaundiced and was on the verge of being threatened with "The Bottle" - but we held out and on about day 4, when the milk had arrived with a vengeance, he latched on and fed for about half an hour. I hardly dared breathe in case he came off again and would not go back on, but he did, and he got better at it.

The midwives were extremely supportive but because my stitches became infected I had to stay in for 6 days. So I made use of the support while I was in the hospital. The engorgement was really painful but settled after a few weeks. I was not prepared for how painful breastfeeding would be; it felt like I was being stabbed with a kitchen knife whenever he latched on and I was on heavy painkillers just to cope.

I always fed lying down because I could not sit down (perineal carnage) which is great because you need the rest, and can both fall asleep afterwards.

I later found out that the pain was due to nipple thrush, caused by the antibiotics I was on. My baby also had thrush. To cut a very long story short... during the next 8 months I had 9 bouts of severe Group B Strep mastitis (high temperature, vomiting, toxic, extreme breast pain, swelling, hardness, purple areas, thick green pus instead of milk, very emotional, came on very suddenly) requiring me to be hospitalised on several occasions. The first bout occurred the day after my son would not latch on because he had wind. I did not realise so I persevered for 90 minutes and traumatised my nipple badly, allowing the entry of infection.

TOP TIP: If the baby won't latch on but has previously been doing fine (he was 3 months old) it's worth trying to burp him.

The doctors initially thought it was Staph Aureus causing the infection. (I had taken a milk (pus) sample to give to them for bacterial culture but they said they didn't need it as mastitis was always caused by S. Aureus - which it isn't) After about 5 or 6 bouts, the health professionals were telling me to give up breastfeeding, as it was taking it's toll on my health, but I was determined to continue. I was told on some occasions to stop because of the antibiotics I was on, but I rang the Drugs in Breastmilk helpline run by the BFN (Breastfeeding Network) and they told me I could still nurse with that particular drug, but that doctors were largely ill-informed and tended to err on what they would call "the safe side" ie to stop feeding and use formula!

I was also was supported by ringing the La Leche League helpline and the local Sure Start Breastfeeding Support Group (a big thank you to Laura and Bronagh, and the other girls in the group).

I would encourage breastfeeding mums out there to always research and challenge the advice you are given, especially if it involves giving up breastfeeding for illness or pharmaceutical reasons. What about the long term health benefits of breastfeeding for your baby - are they thinking of that? Yes, my baby son got a few extras in his milk for a few weeks, but I still believe that was better in the long run than giving up early.

When my baby was 8 months old I finally came off sick leave and returned to work full time. (I was still sick for another month - went back too early) and I was breastfeeding and really enjoying it. My son weaned at 17 months old when I was 3 months pregnant with my second son. The milk was dwindling and I was too tired to continue working and expressing full-time, breastfeeding and pregnant and very sick with morning sickness. He was also not that bothered, and would only take the occasional feed.

It was emotional stopping but I was glad to do it in our own time and not because of illness or someone else's opinion. I considered tandem nursing but felt that I could not do it this time, maybe next time.

My second baby boy arrived after a brilliant 2 1/2 hour labour, latched on immediately and has never looked back. At the moment he is putting on about a pound a week! (must be a growth spurt). He is now 7 weeks old and so far there has been no sign of mastitis! My nipples were only sore for a week this time and I didn't require any no antibiotics, nor did I get thrush.

People thought I was mad at the time to persevere but it was worth it, and they do say tough times build character!

I intend to feed this baby for about 18 months but I will see how it goes.

All the best girls! You can do it - your body is amazing.

Breastfeeding Stories Shared: Breastfeeding After a Traumatic Birth

Here's another inspirational story about breastfeeding, proving that you needn't necessarily be unable to breastfeed just because you've had a difficult birth experience! If you'd like to share your story email me and I'll get back to you as soon as I can! There are some pointers to help you on my homepage.

Breastfeeding after a Traumatic Birth


When I discovered I was pregnant I hadn't given much thought to feeding methods apart from knowing that I really wanted to do kangaroo care and latch my baby on in the delivery suite.

Unfortunately even the best laid birth plans don't always work and we ended up with an emergency C section and a very traumatic birth as my little one was distressed and had the cord round his neck 3 times.

When we were eventually united after an hour or so he wasn't particularly interested in breastfeeding and I was terribly frustrated as I was bedridden and was getting different advice from every midwife who I met but by this stage I was pretty determined. Eventually we got things established but unfortunately he became quite unwell and was transferred to the neonatal unit.

During this time I was expressing and to my great horror was only managing to express maybe 20mls every 3 hrs but as J was only getting 5mls an hour via tube this was sufficent. I really believe that it was breast milk that helped J on his road to an almost miraculous recovery.

Unfortunately though, after he returned from the unit, we had to go through the process of trying to breastfeed again and received lots of conflicting advice from lots of well-meaning people.

Ten months on and the most precious time I get to spend with my son is during feeds - he is a typical boy, no time for cuddles or sitting still apart from our very special breastfeeding time!