I had no idea what was really involved with having a c-section and all I can say after having one last year is, I’m defiintly not too posh to push!
My son was born and almost immediately whisked into ICU for he was ‘grunting’, finding it hard to breath on his own. The nurses told me it was quite common with c-section babies and a year on, I realise quite how common!
His first milk was that of baby formula through a tube in his mouth and I managed to get wheeled down to feed in a few hours later. That didn’t stop the fact that the first thing to reach his stomach after a big dose of antibiotics (which is what they have to do in ICU) was formula. Not that there’s anything wrong with formula, I just mean I wasn’t able to feed him even though I desperately wanted to. And those two things were the first things to hit his little gut.
Born with no warning that nature intended, no birth canal bacteria which we’re all told is so important, I later learnt that it also helps them digest milk.
One of the baby experts on My Baba suggested that I start him immediately on a baby probiotic, which I did and he still takes it now. I was lucky to be able to feed him and for the first time, with the help of The Bump Class and Geraldine Miskin, it was so easy. I loved every feed.
But something wasn’t right, his stools were very loose and more often than not, explosive. Breast fed babies poo during most feeds and I knew this, but something was telling me his gut wasn’t doing what it was meant to. A new baby has to get used to the world and everything is new, of course feeding is one of those many things and the gut does go through some serious changes during the first few weeks and months.
When he was about a month old, I noticed a nappy rash, one that got worse as the days went on and a rash that would not clear. This went hand-in-hand with worsening reflux so I took him to the doctor. He said that exposing his bare bottom to air would be the quickest way to heal his now bleeding, blistered bottom. I remember most naps, I would have him on his tummy drying his bottom with a cool hairdryer. That was the only time he was able to feel comfort and fall asleep. Wiping his bottom was agony and the worse thing is that without the nappy you could see him poo every five minutes or so. That was when I knew it wasn’t nappy rash and it was his digestion. But what I couldn’t understand was how my milk could be doing this. It’s seems totally insane, babies have been thriving on mother’s milk since the beginning of time!
I found that the small amounts of milk in my diet were the problem. I immediately eliminated them from my diet but still it made no difference. I’m told that it would as the weeks went on but I couldn’t bear to see him in such pain and knew that he was allergic to my milk.
I went to see paediatric gastroenterologist specialist Professor Shah, who immediately put me at ease. He’s written the most wonderful pieces for us on reflux and CMPA which are well worth a read. Dr Shah is the hero who immediately ordered an allergy test and put my son on Neocate, a hypoallergenic formula which is intended for the nutritional management of cows’ milk allergy. Within 48 hours the nappy rash had gone, the blisters started to heal and I had a happy baby.
Since then I have spoken to many, many women with babies suffering from all sorts on milk allergies and it just upsets me so much that people don’t know enough about the subject. The dairy free formulas are eye-wateringly expensive so the NHS don’t prescribe it easily and testing for milk allergies is extremely invasive and rarely the option. Luckily for me, Dr Shah gave the prognosis within minutes of seeing him and all we did was a skin prick test.
My son is now 1 and although allergy weaning was slightly harder, we managed it and a couple of months ago started The IPAP Milk Ladder. We got stuck when reaching cheese but he can tolerate milk in pancakes and porridge and I’m told to keep trying the next step but not to get bogged down or worried. Just take each step of the ladder at a time!
So I know the answer that my baby was allergic to my milk but I will always wonder if having a c-section made him more susceptible?!