CMPA: Cow Milk Protein Allergy
Becoming a mother is the most precious experience a woman can go through. And after nine long months of pregnancy and not-so-easy deliveries, you’d think all the hurdles end there. I’m sorry to burst your bubble first-time mamas, but you haven’t seen anything yet! 😀 The changes that occur as soon as the baby’s born could be so stressful, starting with breastfeeding or choosing the right formula for your newborn, and even more tense for mothers with babies that have a cow milk protein allergy. Let me take you through my journey with CMPA…
It all started when my beautiful baby boy started to show colic-like symptoms and really bad reflux, just 2 weeks after delivery. My husband and I were first time parents, and didn’t give it much thought because obviously the baby was “breastfed” so we thought we were doing everything right, and the doctor assured us at first that it was normal and that it will probably get better soon. Until that day Samy cried all day, and I couldn’t take it anymore. I remembered calling my husband asking him to leave work in panic so we could both take him to the pediatrician and check what was wrong. The doctor told us it was too early for my son to show colic-like symptoms, and we couldn’t really run any tests at that age, but did mention the possibility of Samy having CMPA. So his advice to me was to cut off caffeine, milk, and citrus foods and see if the symptoms improved before drawing a conclusion.
Elimination Diet & Going Dairy Free
Starting that day, I literally spent whole days and nights researching what CMPA was, and how it could affect my baby. I honestly took it to the extreme and was very harsh on myself. I cut off every single food related to it that you could think of. I felt guilty, and didn’t want to see my baby in pain. I eliminated all kinds of citrus foods, dairy products, caffeine…You name it!
Dining out however, was a whole other challenge for me. I remember crying one time on date night, because I literally couldn’t order anything! And you start to realize that it’s easier to just stay and eat at home because you don’t want to hassle the restaurant staff to check on every ingredient that goes on their menu.
Despite all the struggles I endured, I started noticing a big difference in Samy’s behaviour after almost a week: the fussiness, the sleepless nights, and the reflux improved tremendously, and I could feel “almost” normal again. It was all worth it: I decided to stick to this strict diet as long as my baby was feeling better.
How did we know our baby had a Cow Milk Protein Allergy?
Four months down the line, and with Samy becoming much better, I had to leave the country for 4 days for my best friend’s wedding, and I started getting anxious. What if the pumped milk was not enough while I was away? All sorts of questions started to haunt me. I decided I should introduce Samy to formula just in case of emergency, and in case my pumped milk wasn’t going to be enough during the days I was out of the country. Now although I was breastfeeding, I didn’t want to introduce formula at this stage, but hey, Fed is Best, and the most important thing is to see your baby healthy and happy.
Well let me tell you that having to choose the right formula for my baby was a complete nightmare! I have tried every single kind of formula you might think of, and every kind of Hypoallergenic milk that exists on the market, and nothing worked! And the hardest part was that the symptoms would only appear almost a week after introducing the new formula, so it was pretty hard to know what was causing him so much discomfort. Samy’s symptoms included insomnia, stomach pain, constipation, teary eyes, and sometimes wheeziness. It literally killed me! It wasn’t until I tried “Novalac Allernova” formula that I was able to breathe again and put my mind at ease, and continue with my breastfeeding/pumping journey. (Although finding the right flow of teat and getting used to the taste of this new smelly formula was another challenge! But hey…baby steps!)
After extensive nights of researching and taking second (and third opinions) from many doctors, I learned a lot!
- Having CMPA is not the same as being Lactose Intolerant.
- CMPA is defined as an abnormal reaction by the body’s immune system to the protein found in cow’s milk.
- Lactose intolerance is an intolerance to the sugar Lactose, due to a temporary lack of the Lactase enzyme that breaks down the Lactose
- If you are breastfeeding, and your baby is reacting to the dairy in your diet, it won’t help to shift to lactose-free dairy products, because the problem is the cow’s milk proteins.
Also, there are two types of CMPA:
- An Immediate (IgE-mediated) allergy: It’s when the symptoms start within minutes to a couple of hours after eating dairy. Usually, the symptoms are swollen lips, eyes, wheezing and/or vomiting.
- A delayed (Non-IgE-mediated) allergy: It’s when the symptoms appear at least after a week of introducing dairy. The symptoms are but not limited to respiratory symptoms, Eczema, reflux, diarrhea or constipation, cramps, and even blood in the stool.
At nine months, the doctor and I decided to slowly reintroduce dairy into Samy’s diet and see how he would react to it, and it didn’t go so well (Poor baby, he really enjoyed eating his Labneh though) : I felt like I was back in time and the scenario was repeating itself all over again.
When Samy hit one, and with a lot of persistence from my end, the doctor suggested I run some allergy tests to see where we’re at, so I can FINALLY put my mind at ease. We were right, Samy had a CMPA, but it was grade 2, meaning it wasn’t that severe and that it might hopefully get better with time!! That was the best day of my life, just knowing what was going on with my baby!
The sacrifice you make while breastfeeding, and loosing all that time finding the perfect formula for your child-with-allergy is indescribable. But it teaches you patience…a lot of patience! Your baby is healthy and happy, and that’s all that matters.
Instead of focusing on the negatives, it taught me to be more proactive, improvise, and cook new meals with new ingredients for my baby and I. My baby was growing perfectly and I had already shed all my pregnancy weight by month 4! Just remember it might feel like a lifetime when you go through it, but it’s such a small part of your life, and you will go through it just to see your baby happy, no matter what!
It is important to know that babies can show one or more symptoms depending on the severity of the case, but might not necessarily have CMPA or any dairy intolerance. If you suspect that your baby has CMPA, check and discuss your concerns with your pediatrician, she/he will be better at accessing your baby’s health situation.
Have you experienced this type of situation with your baby? Feel free to comment or send us a message because I know that nothing brought more comfort to me than knowing that other moms were going through it.