For the first few weeks of life, my daughter (Sweet Girl) spent most of her time doing what infants do – eating and sleeping. While we weren’t getting much sleep, my husband and I could not complain; we had a happy healthy baby. When she was about 2 weeks old, she added a new activity to her days – screaming. She went from sleeping most of the time, to screaming inconsolably for hours. When my family was in town visiting, we would pass her around the room, taking turns trying to comfort her.
As a new first-time parents, my husband and I felt helpless. It was bad enough holding our hysterical child and being clueless as to how to help her. Worse than that was the feeling that she was in pain. She would pull her legs into her belly and scream until she was out of air. I was so scared that there was something wrong with her that the doctors at the hospital missed. We had to do something.
Anyone who has ever had an infant knows that there is no shortage of advice for new parents, and we heard it all. “Put cereal in her milk.” “Give her reflux medication.” “Stop breast feeding and give her formula.” “It’s colic, there is nothing you can do but let her cry it out.” “Gripe water will fix it!” “Stop eating spicy foods- that must be upsetting her stomach.” “There is something wrong with her, go see the doctor!”
Where should we start? I knew in my heart that breast milk was the best thing for her, and I was not willing to compromise on that. That eliminated some advice. After that, I had no idea. The pediatrician had recommended reflux medication when she was only a week old and had been gagging occasionally. While I love our pediatrician, I am not interested in medicating my baby unless absolutely necessary. So we went in a direction that many people find surprising… the chiropractor.
I had never been to a chiropractor myself but had heard that some conditions, like reflux, can be caused by misalignment. My sister, who is an Occupational Therapist, saw amazing results with her infant daughter who screamed for the first five weeks of her life. I did some research and found a great local chiropractor, Dr. Brenda, who specializes in treating women and children. At our first visit, we got the good news/bad news that Sweet Girl’s alignment was in good shape. Of course we were glad not to find a problem, but we had been hoping to find something easy to solve. Taking a holistic view, Dr. Brenda recommended that I start taking pro-biotics, she showed us ways to massage Sweet Girl’s belly to alleviate some discomfort, and we continued to see her in the hopes of finding a solution. Early in our relationship, Dr. Brenda mentioned that cow’s milk and soy can wreak havoc on a baby’s digestive system, and that if pro-biotics and belly massage didn’t help her, I might want to consider eliminating it from my diet. Then, after a few visits, Dr. Brenda noticed that she could calm Sweet Girl’s screaming while pressing on the ileocecal valve in her belly – pointing to GI distress. So back to the doctor we went.
At this point, we had a lot more information from Dr. Brenda. We were very confident that Sweet Girl was experiencing digestive issues, not some other ailment. With what we learned from Dr. Brenda, our pediatrician used a test looking for microscopic blood in Sweet Girl’s stool, and it was positive. Her recommendation was to remove milk from my diet. She explained that some people believe that no person should drink cow’s milk, and that the large protein size can be difficult for people, especially infants, to digest; this causes intestinal inflammation, hence the microscopic blood. That was all I needed to hear. If there was anything I could do to help Sweet Girl, I would do it. I eliminated milk products for about a week and half before going for a follow-up test. Our doctor saw some improvement, but not a completely negative test. I asked what else I could do and she said to try cutting soy out next, so that’s what I did.
The change that we saw was not immediate, but it was dramatic. Over a period of a few weeks we went from having a few good hours in mostly bad days to having a few bad minutes to hours in mostly good days. We have learned that we have an opinionated child on our hands and that no diet change will affect that, but we don’t see her crying in pain or pulling her legs into her belly any more. This change has made such a difference in our lives, that I am in no hurry to try milk or soy again any time soon!
With that said, this has not necessarily been an easy change. I have certainly faced challenges, and have tried to navigate my way through the milk free, soy free world with few resources. Everyday it gets a little easier and becomes part of the way that I eat and cook. As I continue to learn how to live and eat normally without milk and soy, I am hoping that, by sharing my experiences, I can help someone else do the same thing.