CMPA - One mum's experience of a dairy allergy

Our lovely Katie from customer service talks candidly about her experience of having two babies with CMPA.

sleeping baby held by mum

As a mum of two tiny humans who were both eventually diagnosed with a Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA), I totally understand the added anxiety and pressure that comes with knowing that there is something wrong with your baby, but not knowing what that something is. Alongside trying to soothe a child who is frequently distressed, many parents feel like their worries and concerns aren’t taken seriously by their GP, making for a pretty tough journey into parenthood.

With my daughter, born in 2015, she never slept longer than an hour, hated being on her back, her front, (sometimes her side), had awful wind, hardly ever finished a bottle and suffered horrendous rashes and eczema. After numerous visits to the village GP and about 20 different creams, at 14 months we worked out that her fractiousness was due to an allergy or sensitivity to food… on this occasion a packet of cheese and herb crisps caused an immediate reaction around her mouth on a day when she’d refused her morning cup of milk and had eaten dry cereal for breakfast. It dawned on me…could it be milk-based products causing it?

By this point I was a nervous wreck, back to work on such little sleep, constantly apologising to friends, family members and nursery about the state of her skin, which the GP assured me she would grow out of. I really felt like I was doing a really rubbish job of mumming because I couldn’t ‘solve’ the problem. With my new evidence in tow, I called the doctors and I requested a referral to the local allergy clinic. I’d spent time looking online for other people in the same situation, I was as clued up as I could be. I had lots of mum friends, but none who had experienced this. I had no idea where to start and no one to share thoughts with.

I switched her milk to a soya alternative, swapped the butter for Vitalite and became a whizz at looking for ingredients that stood out in bold, and luckily these switches reduced the symptoms. She was happier and her nappies looked so much healthier! The dietican supported us with numerous trials of completing the milk ladder, and eventually we got there. A few weeks after her third birthday she was happily enjoying fancy unicorn cupcakes with no repercussions. Hurrah!!

When number two roly-polyed into our lives in 2019, at four weeks old the same signs were there. The mucous-y nappies, snoring, rashes, struggling and crying when feeding. This time I struck gold with my new GP (we’d relocated from Essex to Yorkshire by this point) HER CHILDREN HAD A CMPA!!!! She was so helpful. We trialed a hydrolysed formula (I’d had a shocking second attempt at breastfeeding – thanks CMPA for screwing that up for me during the fuggy newborn period), but he was still not enjoying his feeds. They weren’t comforting him the way milk did for other babies. It broke my heart and one night we ended up having a trip in an ambulance as his breathing had gotten so laboured he needed to be admitted to hospital.

He was prescribed the foul smelling and tasting Neocate, but his habits started to change over the space of a few weeks. He was more content (so happy and giggly), slept (a bit more) and my journey as a mum of two eased. By this time more people I knew had babies who had suffered a CMPA and I was able to share my experiences with them, both the lows and the highs. The offerings in the supermarket had gotten so much better, I was better informed and of course scouring the internet brought up dieticians with handy info-graphics to support and educate, along with mums sharing advice and easy ‘free from’ recipes - even for a novice cook like me - so weaning wasn’t as tricky as I expected it to be.

I’ve spent some time recently reading some of the incredible reviews of our Etta Loves range. It’s really special to see that a business you are part of helps the day to day for so many new parents. It has been a lovely exercise in looking for pockets of joy, especially when the news is so gloomy at the moment, and during my reading one review really stood out to me as I could relate to their situation:

“This is a lovely product and it helped me so much. Reflux/CMPA meant my baby hated being on her back, so to encourage her in the pram we put this [sensory strip] around the edges and that was that. She would happily lay and look at the patterns for a walk.”

Parenting isn’t supposed to be easy, but if a carefully designed product can help an exhausted mum or dad who was in my position back then, even to give them a few minutes of calm, then I am delighted to be a part of that!

If you think your little one might have a dairy allergy here are a few websites I found helpful and please trust your instincts, you know your baby best.

https://www.srnutrition.co.uk/2019/11/advice-for-babies-with-food-allergies

https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/childrens-health/what-should-i-do-if-i-think-my-baby-is-allergic-or-intolerant-to-cows-milk/

https://www.instagram.com/thedairyfreemum/?hl=en

https://www.instagram.com/childrensdietitian/?hl=en

Please note that this information is not to replace the advice of your doctor or dietitian, but we hope it might offer some support if you're going through the same thing.

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