Milk protein allergy is something we as moms didn't know about years ago. But thanks to advances in science and the miracle that is called Pinterest. We have communicated, and resources are available. PRAISE GOODNESS! It's a steep path to navigate when your whole world consists of cheese, right?
Why I am here and who I am:
Hey mama, I am Trish— AKA Labor Nurse Mama. I am a labor and delivery nurse with over 15 years of high-risk OB experience. I am also a mama to 7 kids and have given birth to 6. This means I am quite familiar with the postpartum period and how to navigate it. I am the online birth class educator for Calm Labor Confident Birth and The VBAC Lab birth classes and the mama expert inside our Calm Mama Society a pregnancy & postpartum membership community! I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey! You can find me over on IG teaching over 230k mamas daily. I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey!
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What is this blasted Milk Protein Allergy?
Also known as MSPI or Milk Soy Protein Intolerance. It means that your baby can not process or digest protein that comes from a cow's milk or soy-based products. A milk protein allergy or intolerance doesn't work like a “normal” allergy that would last the baby's lifetime. It usually gets better by a year of age or a little bit older. Greyson outgrew his milk protein allergy by 14 months. THANK JESUS UP ABOVE, cause I missed my cheese! A milk protein allergy can be closely followed by other more severe GI diagnoses. Again Thank you, Jesus, that Greyson hasn't appeared to have any other issues since the first year. I want to believe I helped in prevention by strictly adhering to the rules of the dairy/soy free game. Unfortunately, his older brother Elias (19 years older) didn't have the luxury of a Pinterest searching mom with texting capabilities. Looking back, what was called Colic, was most likely a milk protein allergy. It's very common for it to run in families and for you to have more than one child with a milk protein allergy. Elias has struggled with GI problems from day one and still does. I just took him to the ER last week. That's a whole different blog post entitled, “Getting your young teen/adult to follow a restricted diet is nearly impossible.”
GI Problems Related to a Milk Protein Allergy:
I've included links to some of these diagnoses as I do not consider myself capable of explaining them fully.
- Gastroenteritis: swelling and inflammation of the stomach and Intestines. This is why your little one is arching his back and screaming BLOODY MURDER. Think vomiting and Diarrhea!
- Esophagitis: an inflammation or irritation of the lining of the esophagus. This is the tube that leads from the mouth to the stomach. Aka, the path that milk keeps flowing down. AGAIN Screaming baby in a milk protein allergy (MSPI) baby!
- Allergic colitis: This is when your baby's immune system goes nutso and reacts to the milk and soy protein (AKA milk protein allergy) causing inflammation in the colon. It can lead to bloody stools which is precisely what convinced me that Greyson had this.
- Eosinophilic gastroenteritis/ esophagitis: you're feeling technical you can read this post about a more serious and RARE diagnosis.
What are the Signs/Symptoms of a Milk Protein Allergy in Your Baby?
- Crying, crying, and more crying all the time. Your baby may cry 18-20 hours a day as a result of pain and hunger. (remember the inflammation) It deprives your baby of much-needed sleep.
- weight loss (including a diagnosis of Failure to Thrive)
- skin rashes can be a sign of milk protein allergy (check out the picture of Greyson)
- refusal to eat
- nonstop eating
- spitting up
- blood or bloody mucus in the stool
- green frothy stool
- watery stool
- horrible gas (which is not usual in a baby and this was one of our first signs in Greyson..he cleared a room)
How is a milk protein allergy diagnosed?
In my case, A friend recommended I explore it and I then combed Pinterest and the internet. An official diagnosis is hard to come by and would involve blood tests, skin allergy testing, stool analysis, and more. These tests can be inconclusive. Most pediatricians, including mine, suggest an elimination diet. The elimination diet will give you the best answers and possibly your baby some peace.
Elimination diet to diagnose your baby's milk protein allergy:
This one is pretty simple. Cut out all milk products and soy. Yes, I mean DAIRY! We were living in Chicago when I started eliminating. Did I mention, we were living in a hotel in Chicago with a screaming baby? Chicago has pizza. Pizza and more pizza. But, I was desperate for my little one and the rest of the family to get relief.
I cut out all visible milk and dairy products. Within a week, Greyson was a different baby. By two weeks, he was a HAPPY baby full of content. He started to gain weight slowly (due to my breast surgery, which I'll address later) but surely. At the two week mark, I discovered that I knew absolutely nothing about milk protein. It is in EVERYTHING. From apparent products like cheese to less evident like food seasonings.
Resources for milk protein allergy
I sought help on social media forums, and a wealth of recipes and ideas came pouring in. Thank you social media. In 2014 there was a lot less readily available information. So fast forward to 2017, my grandson had all the same symptoms, so Anna started the elimination diet, and Asa was much better. She has a much better understanding thanks to bloggers, Pinterest, and Google. I've included links that Anna and I found helpful. Then you can save our post and in it will be valuable resources.
- Restaurant guide to eating dairy free and lots of more information to help with your baby's milk protein allergy if you are breastfeeding.
- A wholesomehomemaker Blog: Help from a mom whose baby has a milk protein allergy
- Far out City Blog: An example of how to do an elimination diet.
- The vegan society: a resource of vegan goodness
Help for the formula fed baby with a milk protein allergy:
I mentioned before that due to my breast surgery things were all bonked. So at the same time that we figured out the milk protein allergy, we had to explore supplementing. OK, so if you knew me, you would see that I am a die-hard breastfeeding advocate. I'm the labor nurse who fights for your skin to skin and first breastfeeding experience in the labor room. So, having to supplement was sucky, primarily because it was due to me having my boobs done. Granted, I thought I was done having babies and wanted my boobs off my hips for my exciting 40's! I decided to use a Supplemental Nursing System, which is incredible but also incredibly time-consuming. However, I wanted to combine formula with the precious amount of breastmilk I was able to produce, and I accomplished this goal using the SNS. However. I won't tell you about the time it slipped out of my shirt in Carrabas, which I'm pretty sure stunned our server.
SNS systems available:
Formulas for babies with a milk protein allergy:
Ok, brace yourself. These suckers are expensive. I mean really pricey. HOWEVER! Insurance should reimburse. I sent a letter from my pediatrician to Blue Cross, and they reviewed it…for months. I finally got it all back. Another tip: ASK FOR SAMPLES. I got tons of cans from my peds office. ASK!!!! Alimentum by Similac Nutramigen by Enfamil*I used this one Early Newborn Feeding Cues I hope this helped you find some answers and pointed you in a helpful direction for answers. If your baby has a milk protein allergy, you need lots of information and support. Be sure to comment, sharing your questions and experiences. Anna is in the throws of breastfeeding a baby (my sweet grandson Asa) who has a milk protein allergy. She would be happy to answer your questions!