Tag Archives: colicky babies

Why did I persevere with breastfeeding a reactive baby?

I just replied to a post in a special group where many Mum’s are in the same shoes that I have been in for the last 3 years…it got me thinking it was time for a new post.

Why do Mum’s like myself, continue to endure the challenges that come from breastfeeding a baby who reacts to the foods we eat? To keep taking more and more foods (it seems) away, when you never know when it will stop?

The poor Mum who asked it has a very unhappy 4.5 month old, and was curious on what had kept other Mum’s going.  She’s not the first person to ask me this… and I thought I would share, because I’m sure someone else will read this who needs a little encouragement to continue the hard work!

SO these were what came to mind…

1) Since she was so reactive, we expected formula would make it worse even the hydrolysed ones

2) Couldn’t afford formula (though its not as if the Dr’s visits etc are cheap… but then we could have had formula AND that)

3) We would have to challenge foods/triggers directly with her, whereas I could lessen the blow by doing it through me

4) It unlocked insight into my own health and made me a healthier person (though this took a lot longer to realise)

5) The protection to her digestive system from the easier-to-digest food and probiotic component I provided… the increase in minerals she needed as I healed me was apparent in her

6) (and this should probably be higher) the comfort I could provide when she was reacting. To be able to breastfeed her, and often feeding in bed and continuously feeding so I got *any* sleep….. if she was formula fed and reacting, I had no way to comfort her pain besides potentially more drugs

7) Related to 3… could challenge foods and find safe ones while she was exclusively BF so that we had some insight into what would be safe foods for her to wean onto.

You have to decide to keep going for reasons that are relevant to you. Only you can decide. Do NOT let others decide for you, to tell you that you have to do give up feeding because your milk is “bad”… especially if you feel that there’s more to it than that.

You need to trust your gut. That is the real root reason I think I continued. It felt right, and stopping didn’t.

Good luck Mummas!

Filed under Health and Wellbeing, Reactive babies and children

It’s time to share… where did all this start?

Have you ever stopped to realise that something that has been a pretty harrowing experience in your life, was the best thing that could have ever happened to you?

That’s what this “little” story is all about.

I’m actually not really sure where to start, because while my road to discovering our family’s underlying health conditions started after the birth of our third child, there really were warning signs years before in my older children’s health, and dating back to my own childhood and beyond…

So, I’m going to start this current part to the story when our youngest was born, and with time, I’ll go back and cover the other realisations I have had since.

Her arrival has meant so much more than just the joy of another child in our family. So much more than the joy we get from seeing her growing up into a gorgeous little girl with personality plus. She’s meant that ALL of our family – within our own direct family unit, but also further afield… and many families outside of our network, have come to learn more about their health.

All from one little girl… and a somewhat determined mother I suppose too…!!

Let’s backtrack a little to October 2012. I was due with my third child… I had just completed the sale of our business of nearly 10 years, and had literally JUST finished the majority of the handover process the day before she ended up arriving.

Her siblings are twins, at the time they had just turned 6… they had significant health issues at birth (premature) plus silent reflux which caused no end of pain for our eldest (“K”) and all of us who didn’t get sleep in blocks longer than 40 minute stints until they were nearly 1. Food intolerances were found, more drugs (& different types used) and voila, reflux gone. Problems gone, right? Maybe not… but at the time we thought it!

By the time I got to the arrival of our youngest daughter “L”, I was much more armed with knowledge to push the typical “its reflux and that’s just the way it is” with her.

I had a natural delivery – VBAC too after being pressured into a c-section with the twins… so a big achievement in itself. I specifically requested no antibiotics to be given to either of us unless absolutely necessary… and it wasn’t needed – BONUS! (My research had taught me that AB’s during pregnancy and just after birth could lead to gut imbalances and reactions, so I fought hard for this).

Lydia newborn 15 October 2012

Just minutes old… photo credit to Jen Shipston from The Heart of Motherhood (http://theheartofmotherhood.com.au/)

One step forward, two steps back…

Catch 22 came, when our gorgeous little 8 pound (3.6kg) munchkin arrived, she was tongue tied and didn’t feed properly, which I am sure contributed to me getting mastitis. We had the tie snipped when she was 4 days old, but the damage was already done…

By the time she was 8 days old, I was on Augmentum as I had tried every non-AB option I could in combination with guidance from my midwives. Within 24 hours, she was a screaming mess.

Worth noting here that this is what I feel to be an extremely significant (backward) step in our journey. To this point she had been fairly content and feeding ok (within the realms of expectation for a tongue-tied newborn!), sleeping “ok” as a newborn will, etc. Then she just stopped sleeping and would only do so if completely upright. Projectile vomit, horrible explosive nappies… it was never-ending. I had been used to two severe reflux babies… and handling this ONE child, was more work than they were.

By the time she was 2 weeks old, a friend suggested me looking at becoming gluten and dairy free – it had helped her with her second child a couple of months before. This seemed fairly logical as we knew the twins had reacted as babies to dairy… but I had never gone to the extent of removing it from my diet (even though they were breast and/or express milk fed, I didn’t connect the dots for it – even though I realised other foods which definitely impacted on them like onion and garlic!).

Sooooo… from that day, my world changed. Dramatically.

Have you ever seen how much gluten is used in every day foods you buy? Have a look at the labels of every single product you buy. I bet if you have a ‘standard’ Australian diet without already being restricted… foods you buy have either got dairy, or gluten, or both in them.

She did improve at least a little with this, but was still overall very refluxy and reactive.

Next step was what I had tried to avoid… reflux medications.

….step 1… Infant Gaviscon

Credit to my GP here… he wanted to try the ‘gentler’ things before the strong medications I was asking for… to help ease the symptoms while we worked out triggers. He never once suggested I wean her to formula to help. He never once tried to coerce me into doing things that I didn’t want to do with the exception of trying to slow down the heavy meds… I didn’t understand at the time, I just wanted pain relief for my baby, but, I quickly realised it was worth a try.

It did actually help at the time to ease the symptoms, especially while she was probably in withdrawals, as was I no doubt too. Not thinking straight. After a month of varying uses of it and regularity of doses, etc… plus gradually taking out obvious triggers from my diet that came along… it was time for the ‘big guns’.

….step 2…. Losec (Omeprazole)

This medication actively reduces the amount of stomach acid which is going to burn and hurt in an individual with reflux. It makes a difference in pain and is used so commonly in children and adults alike. They are called “proton pump inhibitors” (PPI).

By reducing the amount of acid in the stomach, it also means that food particles may not be broken down into the smallest unit they can, and then if gut damage exists (which clearly in L it did, and many other babies with reflux it does too)…… these larger molecules can then go into their blood stream and put a massive strain on their bodies to break them down where they shouldn’t normally need to.

It also has serious impacts on health when used long-term, but these parts don’t get talked about. Mineral deficiencies they cause…. making food intolerances worse… yep… awesome. These parts were never discussed more than a glean… by multiple physicians. More about that later.

….step 3…. Zoton (Lansoprazole)

For some reason, the way my kids responded to the PPI drugs wasn’t “normal”… they didn’t actually get much relief from Losec, it helped a little, but didn’t solve a lot long-term. All of them ended up on Zoton and that’s where the changes in behaviour happened at least… pain relief… rest… recovery… (and some more mineral deficiencies)

This is the medication that helped us to find baseline with more significant diet changes… this is what let us see the huge amount of inflammation that was happening in L’s body… but its also what probably contributed to a longer recovery.

Luckily when she was about 8 months old, once I had gone through very extensive dietary changes beyond the dairy and gluten, a single pharmacist clued me up to the magnesium deficiency that would be created by her ADULT doses of this drug. A tiny little baby, borderline failure to thrive… and she was barely kept “maintained” reflux wise on something which actively pumps magnesium out of the body’s stores.

As quickly as I humanly could, we dropped the medication. Weathered the withdrawal symptoms (everything gets worse for a bit!) and found she was remarkably happy off them, but using the gaviscon again to manage symptoms of flares. At the same time, or soon after, we introduced magnesium via epsom salts, and via transdermal magnesium for me…. and that then led to a whole different path.

So beyond the gluten and dairy, then medication… what did I do to help her?

That’s for another day… please check by and I’ll link to the next post soon.

Filed under Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Health and Wellbeing, Mineral Balance

A Stitch in Time: Why Start Now

We’ve all been part of discussions about babies and toddlers and their various health conditions why they are unsettled generally, getting reflux etc. Parents are often desperately trying to find a medicine to fix their child. My experience, those I chat to on a number of forums online and elsewhere, plus my clients, is that dietary changes are actually easy for young children and in fact, these kids can go from ‘reflux’ or ‘colic’ to dream babies.

Why not try food as a solution, while your kid is still a little one?

Often the order of things is child gets sick, parent treats with pain killers, reoccurs or doesn’t help enough, so they visit the doctor, get antibiotics, which help for that round but either don’t eliminate the infection fully and/or never treat the base cause for the irritation. Inflammation. Irritants from allergies or intolerances (food or otherwise). Then this keeps happening, they get offered grommets, adenoids/tonsil removal and things may improve for a while. Look they are better!

Hurrah! Then school hits as a major stressor. The child can’t concentrate, sit still, or are disruptive. Maybe they still bed wet. Maybe they are very emotional all the time. Maybe they are on the border between being diagnosed as ADHD or Autistic, or maybe they are none of these but are just not well a lot of the time, quiet, slow weight gain, etc. Physically and/or mentally they are struggling. Things get desperate, Mum (sorry Dad, its more often Mum) hears about an elimination diet to get rid of food intolerances. They go through much trial and tribulation because now the child is older, they struggle with catering for school lunches, excursions, birthday parties, special events like Christmas or visiting family who don’t understand. You name it. But they get results…. and often they find that kids who  did the elimination  are new kids. Assertive, learning quickly, willing to help, concentrating. SLEEPING. This is wonderful, of course … they might have found it easier to do all this before the kids got mobile!

What’s my opinion antibiotics and medical intervention? They are necessary for those who are very ill, but offer little in the way of long term solutions or full ‘health’. They don’t help you work out the true causes to the ever-growing list of symptoms.

Can these common childhood problems be prevented from reoccurring and needing ongoing treatment by standard ‘medicated’ methods?

My family is living proof.

So, when you look at your toddler, thinking its too hard to consider looking at diet now because you’re too tired and overworked…maybe think about giving it a try because after a matter of days or weeks, your child may be sleeping through the night without wetting the bed, fighting at meal times, eczema, asthma, reflux, or simply being ‘unwell’ and clingy all the time or crying. There is a massive payoff to all your hard work. In my case ­ waking up at 8am and realising that I had an awesome night with our ‘reflux’ baby – priceless!

Get started with the ‘FAILSAFE’ or the RPAH Elimination Diet and consider addressing wheat and dairy within that (as these often make inflammation worse!). At worst you have put a bit of effort to feed your child a low chemical diet for a matter of weeks… and they may stay the same. Or, they may surprise you and improve beyond what you could have imagined.

Toddlers are pretty accommodating with food, you may tell me you have a picky kid, but, I bet I could make Failsafe food which they will eat. If I can, you can. Trust me, it’s a whole lot easier to start even younger with a baby on early solids giving them swede, choko and celery than it is arguing with a 7 year old who is asserting their independence!

I offer coaching to help parents who are overwhelmed, in the midst of sleepness nights and behaviour problems… trust me, you can do it without me… you just might prefer to have someone alongside, giving you a hand. There are online communities to help you along if you want to research before going forward… or dietitians who are experienced in the FAILSAFE/RPAH side of things (beware, plenty are not! You risk taking a lot longer by doing one food type at a time, or by them not being at least aware of the benefits of the full elimination-diet.

Once you determine intolerances, their little bodies can rest, the inflammation response by the body is reduced, and you have a fantastic place to start healing and working on fixing the underlying cause/s… gut health… mineral balance… combination of the two. While the body is irritated by food or environment, the capability for the body to recover is that much harder.

Goodluck! Don’t forget to ask for help and guidance… please don’t do it alone.

Filed under Failsafe, Health and Wellbeing

Mineral Balance, food intolerances/allergies or chronic illness and how these relate… (part 3)

(Continuing on from part 2 – here)

Vitamin D, Calcium and so many minerals… absorption can’t happen without magnesium… !

They diagnose low Vitamin D, despite many of us (in Australia at least) getting plenty of sun. They tell us to take the oral Vitamin (often D3) but don’t realise that it needs to be taken when there is sufficient magnesium in the body to absorb it… or your D3 levels are likely to never go up!

They tell us that calcium is so critical for strong bones, but they don’t tell us that without magnesium, it often cannot be absorbed either. Vitamin D3 and calcium need magnesium to be absorbed. That doesn’t necessarily mean they need to be TAKEN at the same time though. A small subtlety… but an important one.

Magnesium needs to be present in the cells to absorb nutrients from your digestion…. but if you take it at the same time as Calcium and D3, it may hinder absorption of all.

Some are familiar with magnesium… know that taking it when you are getting leg cramps may help. Take apparent megadoses of it… but you know what? You need the elemental magnesium, not just the total magnesium listed on the label. Sometimes it can say 400mg of magnesium, but it may have only 4mg of elemental magnesium in it! It also may not be well absorbed depending on the type.

There are so many complexities to how magnesium works in the body, how it is absorbed and how it helps the body to function once its there… but where to start?

Magnesium oil. Magnesium Chloride.

Put this on your skin, and it is well absorbed. It bypasses the need for the gut and gets to work in your body. Start slow, use 4-6 sprays per day in the first week. Then increase by 2 sprays per day, each week. So week 1 = (say) 4 sprays per day. Week 2 = 6, week 3 = 8 and so forth. Each Magnesium Oil spray will be a different concentration, but, the one I use is 66mg of Elemental Mag per 4 sprays… so I’m working towards the suggested total of 5 x my body weight (in pounds) in milligrams. So for a 150 pound person, that would be 750 mg per day TOTAL. So if you are taking any other supplements with magnesium, that would be included.

If you want to minimise tingling/stinging, spray only on the soles of your feet. Perhaps just before bed, or while watching tv/doing quiet activities in the evening and then wipe off the oil residue before bed.

(I started on my feet and have worked out since that my belly doesn’t tingle, so I put all of mine on there now, and wear an old shirt to bed so it doesn’t go on my sheets/good PJs)

For us, I noticed a change quickly. My breastfed baby started sleeping ‘through’ when I was up to 8 sprays per day. If I have deviated from that, she has started waking again. Tested several times sadly! In times of stress, you may need even more.

Something I noticed, and I didn’t fully think of this until much later. I started to tan on my feet for the first time in my 30-something years of life. Where was I putting the mag oil? On my feet. I wasn’t out in the sun any more, I wasn’t doing anything different to other recent years… it was only spring time too – not hugely intense sunlight… but… I developed a sun tan. Fancy that… more magnesium, more conversion of sunlight in the body to all the ‘good stuff’…?

Once you get started and see a difference, consider having a hair analysis done and getting some guidance on your own personal mineral status… more about that on another post, but if you are desperate NOW… go to ‘gotmag.org’ and have a look around. Get Morley to do an assessment for you…!

Some useful links about Vitamin D and absorption:

  • Magnesium, vitamin D status and mortality: results from US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001 to 2006 and NHANES III: Click Here
  • A very interesting ‘take’ on how so many physicians demand their patients to take Vitamin D, and explanation as to why they probably don’t improve! Click here
  • Some more information about Vitamin D/mineral absorption: Click here

Filed under Calcium, Health and Wellbeing, Magnesium, Mineral Balance

Breastfeeding Mums and Refluxy, colicky babies… can diet changes help me?

This is a loaded question depending on who you ask!

Many paediatricians and GPs will tell you that nothing you eat goes through breastmilk. All food in moderation.

I’d like to challenge this. Infact I say this statement is rubbish.

Irrespective of those who become aware food intolerances in their kids, like I myself… how many breastfeeding Mums have noticed that if they eat ‘gassy veggies’ like broccoli, cauliflower, onion or garlic, that they end up with an unsettled baby?

What about alcohol? If nothing goes through into breastmilk, why is it recognised that alcohol goes through? Food molecules are not necessarily larger than alcohol, so surely its logical that some things may go through.

Have you ever heard of a mother taking probiotics to help their baby’s digestive system? How is that possible?

Our intestines look something like:

Small and large intestine cross-section.

Small and large intestine cross section. Full credit to Vetmed for this graphic.

The theory is that our digestive system starts at our mouth when we chew, and it continues the whole way until it… exits. In an ideal world, it is a separate entity from our blood. Food doesn’t cross into our blood stream thanks to those villi and multiple layers of intestines. So we are lead to believe anyway as 1st, 2nd, 3rd and beyond year Science Students!

The thing is, the food we eat has loads of things hidden in it that we would never have eaten in bygone days.  Preservatives, colours, additives, chemicals to keep food stable for extremely long periods, you name it… do we truly have an understanding how these impact on our digestive system? It is within comprehension to think that these molecules could do damage to our digestion over time, causing gaps in the membranes… damage which may allow other molecules through…

I personally think that bread shouldn’t be able to sit on a shelf for a few weeks without growing… nor should many things we eat survive in the pantry as long as they do! What about the preservatives in soft drinks? Isn’t there enough sugar? No, they add it to almost every fizzy drink out there… needed or not.

Another thing which is more commonly used now than (say) 100 years ago… antibiotics, and the massive variety in types and composition. Now don’t get me wrong, these save lives and help us to lead the busy and diverse lives we do without being brought down by the common infections which were once so much more dangerous. However, the ingredients within these medications are well beyond just the antibiotics… have you see how brightly coloured and flavoured most kids antibiotics are? Probiotics are encouraged by some physicians, but they don’t emphasise how these may need to be taken for MONTHS to reverse the damage to the gut flora.

Gradually gaining recognition in medical fields is the concept of a ‘leaky gut’. Many medicos only recognise it in a very small group of patients, but, I believe there is plenty of evidence that something is going on! Those using elimination diets identifying food triggers are inadvertently supporting the concept… eat food, some of the food proteins or other molecules go through the digestive wall, which would normally prevent the entry, and the body reacts to these extra molecules being in the blood stream with migraines, behavioural issues, eczema, asthma, etc.

Leaky Gut Syndrome - how food gets into our blood stream

A graphical summary of leaky gut. Click on the image to go to the source…

As you can see, there are way more triggers listed in the image for intestinal damage (anyone pick the typo too? hehe)… including pregnancy. I have heard so many times when pregnant that our body absorbs more of our food when pregnant. Maybe this is what they meant?! Pregnancy puts our entire body under a lot of physical stress, far beyond the cankles and tiredness that many will think of.

So, lets think about it… we eat food, especially mothers of newborns (or newborns + other kids), in a tired daze we grab whatever food is easy and quick to consume… do we think about whether this will go through into our blood stream? Hardly. We eat the bread that can quickly be smothered in… margarine (err almost all of which have preservatives in)… and then we put vegemite or any number of other spreads on it which may be high in preservatives, additives, things to make it stay emulsified etc… or we have a quick sugary hit which may keep us awake in our never ending weary state, but is probably full of more colours and additives. SO many of us eat wheat and dairy-based products thinking they are just what we need to keep our energy up, but in a leaky-gut state, wheat and dairy are often the hardest things for our body to break down (gluten and casein – the proteins of these foods)… so they enter the blood stream… along with other proteins and food chemicals which shouldn’t go there.

In sensitive babies, with ‘open’ guts (not yet fully mature, designed to absorb the nutrients from breastmilk), they can’t process these extras that they are inadvertently getting. It takes more metabolic energy to digest, and this puts a strain on minerals such as magnesium, zinc and calcium as the body tries to flush them out. Let alone the immediate response to these foods can be of physical irritation – severe reflux, colic, inability to sleep, not wanting to be put down, slow weight gain, large weight gain (from wanting to drink constantly to soothe the pain).

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that a mother’s milk is ‘bad’ and that she should give up breastfeeding because there isn’t enough there for the baby… meanwhile the baby was probably just reacting to something she was eating and trying to ‘self soothe’ by drinking more. Let’s not even talk of others. *I* have been told so many times I should give up breastfeeding and put my children on formula. It would be better for me (!), better for them… why? So that I can have the convenience of eating more variety? So that I can risk them reacting to the formula and then having my supply dropping off and being unable to regain it easily? Luckily by #3 I learned to just ignore the comments.

I’m starting to realise in my reading and talking with parents that there are a lot more babies out there who would benefit from parental awareness on this concept of an open gut. Just because you can’t see a rash, your baby is ‘just a bit colicky’ or even ‘one of those’ who are chronic nappers and who never really settled well into long sleep patterns… doesn’t mean your child has any less ‘open’ of a gut than the next child… and their tummy may be far better off taking things slower with solids or with what you are eating (if breastfed) than you realise. As more and more families get settled, sleeping children when they review diet and find the underlying cause of food intolerance…. maybe this will become more recognised?

How many times have you heard “…my child didn’t sleep through until 3…” but then they continue to explain how the child has always been a strong-willed child who didn’t want to go to sleep, to eat what was given to them, etc? Many of these characteristics are common to those reacting to natural chemicals in the foods (amines, salicylates, glutamates and even gluten/dairy)… so the symptoms just change over time as the child matures.

You don’t pick to have one of these kids. You don’t aim to be one of ‘THOSE’ Mums with kids with food intolerances (or worse, allergies)… but you may already have one and not recognise it yet… you may have a few who do and not realise it. All of ours have, and we NEVER considered ourselves one of ‘those’ families!

I digress from the topic… breastfeeding Mums.

So, if you are breastfeeding, and you have an unsettled baby, what on earth can you do to determine what the trigger/s are, before you start looking into a full Elimination Diet?

  • Get rid of anything with ‘numbers’ – especially preservatives, colours and flavours. Flavours are often just listed as that… they are proprietary and may be safe, but honestly, best excluded and you can challenge them later.
  • ….this includes looking at margarine’s (try preservative free butter?), spreads, dips, sweet and savoury biscuits.
  • Minimise tomatoes, citrus, onion-family (some of the onion-family veggies are ok in the RPAH elimination diet but seem to still stir up little bellies), berries (sorry!), and be mindful of what fruit/veg you select. Aim for pears, ‘just’ ripe bananas, red or golden delicious apples.
  • Aim for 2 fruit servings and 5 veggies per day. Not the other way around…
  • Be mindful of dairy and wheat intake (more on this in another post!)
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks… sorry, but if you have to, go for decaf. Even milo has a high chemical load (try other things for your hit of iron and calcium!)
  • EVERY ‘standard’ commercial softdrink (coca cola, schweppes etc) in Australia has a preservative in it EXCEPT Schweppes Lemonade in a bottle. Not in a can. In a bottle. Preservatives alone can be a massive trigger of unsettled behaviour in babies, not the sugar or anything else you find in the softdrink.
  • Try to get butcher-fresh meat, especially chicken and lamb. These are lower chemical options than pork or beef.

Sound impossible? Its not, trust me… it just takes a *little* planning.

Soon I’ll post about some quick ideas to help overtired and time poor Mum’s know what is ok to cook here… but for now, think quick pan-fried chicken, steam some carrot, potato, swede, choko and zucchini, or grate and mix into chicken mince, or any other combination therein… and viola, you have a meal.

If you want help with where to start, please contact me to arrange a consult.


Filed under Failsafe, Health and Wellbeing