Posts Tagged ‘over-active letdown’

Sometimes you know as you tell people things over and over that you may end up being wrong. I was totally sure that our third kiddo, Darius, was going to come around his due date.

I was already the weight I was when I delivered my older girls at 38 weeks but I thought that was because Darius was going to be bigger. I felt overly exhausted the last few weeks and kept getting lots of false little labor starts where I’d time contractions but with this third pregnancy, I felt every twinge and ache and pain more and that is supposed to be normal as your ab muscles get tired of being stretched yet again. He was measuring spot on for the amount of weeks he was, and fortunately he wasn’t really “early”, he was just born at 38 weeks and not 40. My other two kids went to 40 weeks so I thought he would too.

I’m happy he didn’t. It’s so much more fun getting all the birth-recovery stuff and engorgement out of the way while staring at a newborn little baby than being pregnant this week. And to know that labor pain and another natural birth and all the “what ifs” that not knowing how labor will go are behind me, I’m quite happy he’s already here.

Every time I said to someone “Oh I’ve still got a few weeks, he’s going to way until his due date” I kind of thought maybe he’d prove me wrong.

I can hardly compare this first week with him to the first week with my other girls. My husband is home this time. He knows how to handle babies. *I* know how to handle babies. My first few weeks with my first were entirely overwhelming and incredibly difficult, but this time I’ve been through the sleeping in two hour blocks, the breastfeeding stuff, the after birth stuff. And there are parts of it that are still pretty miserable, but this time I am just hanging out, nursing through the worst engorgement of all three kids, resting as my husband is home and cooking and cleaning (sort of!) and I have, since my first kid, acquired the ability to nurse and change a baby and go right on back to sleep.

What’s amazing is I have a great situation this time and I’m still pretty exhausted, so I know from previous babies how good this week has been.

I’m afraid to jinx anything of course, but Darius is a very laid back kid so far. I have over-active milk ducts, and make lots and lots and lots of milk, and my other girls did not handle it well– projectile spit-up is loads of fun.

But he is a nursing champ, and has only lost 2 ounces of his birth weight. Because he seems to handle the high volume of milk, I think he will gain weight quite differently from the girls that struggled for several months with my supply.

Being gluten-free may be helping that too. Ada’s vomiting was always related to gluten in *addition* to the fire-hydrant-boob syndrome. I don’t want to mess up the sleep I’m getting, and he’s starting to spit up a bit more, so I’m staying dairy and coffee free along with the gluten for now.

Either way, it’s been a good first week. Darius sleeps, and eats. And sleeps and eats. And with his dad around he’s been sleeping on him as well as me. We kind of hope since he’s able to be home with us this time, Darius won’t be so rigid in his sleeping needs as the girls, who pretty much had to have me. Of course, I’m never not there for him either, but it just can’t hurt that he’s got us both around for a bit.

He’s stayed awake for tiny little amounts of time more this week than last, but the girls can’t wait for him to just be awake and be someone they can play with. Azita is always overjoyed when his eyes are actually open! It’s kind of funny.


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So much for detoxing Ada’s little taxed body this week with a strict grain-free diet and lots of fresh veggies. 

I am happy to say she finally started liking my homemade saurkraut, so she is getting good buggies (ie probiotics) in her stomach that way.  Think of yogurt but dairy-free and homemade and cheaper.

But, with relaxing the rules on eating packaged gluten free goods at high risk for cross-contamination, I was getting pretty confidant about my own tolerance levels of gluten.  I wasn’t getting the headaches and other symptoms I’d expected.  I’m fairly sure, through elimination and challenge of foods for Ada, that eggs and/or gluten cause migraines, joint pain and some other stuff for me.

So when I was eating some gluten-free breads and crackers with her that were in shared facilities with wheat, I was feeling alright.  I was surprised.

Then a few nights ago Azita didn’t finish her “Amy’s Meal”… a gluten and dairy free enchilada, that is made on shared equipment with wheat and has tofu in it (soy is widely contaminated with wheat at the field level, I believe).  I decided to finish it for her, since I missed eating them and had been doing okay with the other possibly cross contaminated stuff.  I was also feeling fine and hadn’t reintroduced soy by itself exactly, so it seemed like an okay time to trial.

Well, let me say, the lesson is learned when it comes to the difference between squeaking by okay on stuff made with wheat in the same facility and eating stuff actually on shared equipment. 

Ada’s symptoms:

She peed.  And peed.  And peed.  And peed.  This is where practicing elimination communication really helps you know when a food is affecting your kid in a negative way, by irritating the bladder.  With Azita I just wrote it off as having a “heavy wetter”.  When you do EC you see the patterns and times and amounts and what is really normal or not for your child.

She is red, rashy, uncomfortable ‘down there’– constantly pulling on her underwear.

Very constipated.

Itching the inside of her ear.

Not sleeping well.

My symptoms:

Irritable the next day.  It feels like you have PMS.

Headache for two days.

A huge increase in milk supply– in other words, the return of my over-active-letdown– which led to plugged ducts and mastitis.

I don’t know the mechanism for this, but I can say that many women with too much milk, or over-active letdown, which can make it seem like the baby is getting tummy trouble from the mother’s milk, see a big improvement when they go off of dairy, a common intolerance and allergen.  I think it’s because it stimulates the glands, and milk ducts are glands.  So I seem to have this response with eggs and/or gluten.  Also, one study showed that woman with seasonal allergies have higher rates of mastitis.  So I can only imagine that being intolerant to foods that provoke your immune system might work similarly. 

I don’t know why these symptoms to foods are so much more pronounced now than when I was younger.  But it shows that you can’t know– you can’t write off any food as “Oh I eat it all the time, it can’t be causing me symptoms” because until you don’t eat if for a good while you just don’t know.  I think my body was so bombarded by stuff it didn’t like I couldn’t see the forest for the trees– I just thought headaches every few days were normal, and that I had an overly abundant milk supply– certainly that was better than not enough milk, right?

Once your body knows you are listening, it starts to speak more clearly.

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I never really thought I’d miss cheese.  I mean, I love cheese.  I think most people do.  But I’ve been operating on the belief for several years that milk isn’t really good for you, seeing as it’s meant to nourish a baby cow.  So I didn’t really think I ate much dairy until a few weeks ago when I decided I had to give it up.

Ada, the little rascal, it seems, may have a cow’s milk allergy.  I noticed that she always seemed to have this red, irritated ring of skin in her diaper area.  Nope— not diaper rash.  The girl doesn’t wear diapers during the day, at home.  And she wears cloth when she is wearing them, except at night.  I do disposable her at night so that we can just all sleep ’til morning without too many interruptions.

So I found out that a chronic diaper rash is a good sign of a food allergy in babies.  And a breastfeeding mother can control that by eliminating that food from her diet.  So great, I thought. 

No cheese, check.  I don’t drink milk, check.  No yogurt, check.  No butter… check.  I can use smart balance.  Vegan smart balance that is.  When you begin to cut out dairy you suddenly find out that it is in EVERYTHING.  It’s in margarine, in the form of whey.  It’s in every item at McDonald’s.  It’s in every packaged food and restaurant that doesn’t list the food as non-dairy.

The joke is that I had been upping my cheese and yogurt intake in an effort to keep my weight up while breastfeeding.  A breastfeeding woman burns about 500 calories a day producing milk– at least that is the oft cited statistic that must come from somewhere.  And so for me, I’ve found it hard to nurse and keep up my weight.

Apparantly, my body had really been enjoying those mozzarella snacks inbetween meals and at night, because that is what I am craving!

Most people’s first thoughts are that I don’t have to give up yogurt, because its cultured and the proteins are digested by enzymes.  Then the next thought is that I could have lactose free products.

Nope nope nope.  Lactose intolerance has nothing to do with a milk intolerance in babies.  Baby’s tummys, by nature, produce lactase, the enzyme that digests lactose, or milk sugar.  Milk intolerance has to do with the fact that dairy contains a protein that is hard to digest.  Rather than this protein being digested well in the stomach, it remains a long chain protein and passes into the bloodstream this way.  That causes allergic reactions, like skin reactions, abdominal upset, etc.  People can be intolerant to soy, gluten and eggs in a similar way.

Anyone can feel free to correct me on this, but this is my general understanding of the issue, as a newcomer to the world of food allergies.

It’s interesting though.  It’s interesting that misinformed medical doctors over the years have told women that their babies are getting sick from the mother’s milk or that the babies are lactose intolerant.  I think it is probably more true, but less understood, that the baby had an allergy to something the mother was eating.

Lactose intolerance only happens when lactase is not there– and babies have it for their very survival.  It disappears in many people around age 4 or 5, leading to a lactose intolerant adult. 

A baby that is actually sick from the mother’s milk happens about 2 percent of the time and is due to an actual metabolic disorder.  I wish more mothers and doctors knew this.

A woman can also have over-active letdown, or too much milk.  This is something I suffered from, and what this does is cause what can be referred to as a “temporary” lactose intolerance.  It goes away once the baby digests that meal.  When a woman has too much milk, the baby only receives the first milk that comes out, the foremilk, which is all lactose.  The baby’s tummy isn’t big enough to get the hindmilk, which has all the fat.   So there isn’t enough lactase at that particular moment to digest all that sugar and the baby gets a tummy ache. 

It’s not really lactose intolerance but it can mimic the symptoms, and maybe that’s why people think their babies are lactose intolerant and they aren’t really.  True lactose intolerance just doesn’t happen until later in life.

Too much milk as a problem goes away when the mother’s milk regulates and the baby’s tummy gets bigger.  But that’s another topic.  It’s not really directly related to this.

I just started thinking about it again since being introduced to this whole food allergy world.  How many women must give up the priceless privilege of nursing their baby because of misinformation that their milk is making their kid sick?  And how many of them would be perfectly happy to simply eat less dairy, or soy, or eggs if it helped the kiddo out during the first year?

I remember one day a woman came up to me nursing Azita and told me how she weaned her kid at 3 months because the doctor said her milk is making her kid sick.  She didn’t want to, but she thought she had to.  Obviously, it’s something that many pediatricians still don’t know much about, and its a shame.

My peditrician was very supportive of me giving up dairy and agreed with me completely that the chronic rash and upset tummy preventing her from napping well probably stemmed from a food reaction.  Ada was quite small on the growth charts and her doctor said that once she begins digesting my milk better, because I’ve cut out dairy, she should gain more weight.

So I feel good about following my intuition and beign proactive about not just assuming she has a little diaper rash and was just more fussy on some days than others. 

But if I didn’t pay attention to my kid as well as I have had the bounty of doing since I stay home with her all day, I don’t think the doctor would have caught it either.

If she was just losing weight and I hadn’t thought about my milk and food intake at all, the doctor might have suggested I begin supplementing with formula, which is a common suggestion when the baby is not as big as they think she should be.

I’m glad I’m practicing EC, I’m glad I’m nursing, and I’m glad I don’t just accept that babies are fussy or rashy for no reason.  It’s good to look for the source. 

And another thought, interestingly, is that Ada would probably be fine if I didn’t pick up on it.  One of my friends whose kid has a milk allergy is off the charts in his growth, and the diaper rash was the only symptom.  So this shouldn’t discourage a woman from breastfeeding– a kid may have a mild allergy and be fine, and most likely, won’t have one at all.

Man I want a calzone.

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