When Evie was about 3 - 4 weeks old, I began to notice her gulping and gasping while I nursed her. After breastfeeding, she would scream and cry for sometimes two to three hours until she would finally fall asleep out of exhaustion. Being a new, first time mom, I thought that I was probably doing something wrong. I called the lactation consultants at the hospital, I researched for answers online, and I came up with a few answers:
1. My let down was too strong/fast for her.
2. She had acid reflux.
3. Nothing was wrong, that's just how she and I worked together. (The last answer was obviously the most troubling.)
Then one night, I fed her and she did not stop crying for about 5 hours. I called the nurse on call because my pediatrician's office was closed, and I tried my best to comfort her. It seemed endless. I made an appointment and took her in to her doctor first thing in the morning. He diagnosed a milk protein allergy. He said, "Cut dairy out of your diet, and I bet you'll have a happy baby again." He also asked me to come back with poopy diapers from 4 separate days so that he could confirm the diagnosis.
At first I thought, "No big deal. I'll cut out dairy." Then I really thought about it. I gave up all dairy on the spot, and Evie was a happy baby by the end of that week. It was VERY difficult at first, but the thought of her crying and being miserable was enough to help me pass up cheese, ice cream, and every food with milk listed as an ingredient for almost 6 months.
This was one of my breastfeeding victories. I would never have believed that I could change my diet that much, or that I would be willing to do that. Many, many friends and family members asked me why I didn't just quit and switch to formula. In my mind, it was always a fairly easy choice - it's what I needed to do to give my daughter what I thought was best for her. The benefits of breastfeeding outweighed this sacrifice in every way. I would do it all over again!