Dairy-free in Later Pregnancy

OK, so you’ve survived the horrors of unending sickness and nausea; you’ve accepted that you’re just not going to “bloom” as well-meaning people keep telling you you will, because there isn’t any time left for blooming: you’re now entering the “I’m understudying a whale” phase and it’s time to think about how you’re going to feed your baby.

We spent ages (far, far too long!) trying to establish what the chances were that our baby had inherited an allergy to milk protein. At the time, nobody we asked (and we asked a LOT of people) could tell us. The general response was: “Why are you worrying about this now? Just wait and see.” We didn’t want to do that, as we knew what exposure to milk protein could do if you were allergic to it. We also knew that the milk allergy had already come down one generation in the family. When we eventually got as far a paediatrician who worked on a neonatal ward, I had already gone dairy-free, substituting with soya and rice milk and taking calcium tablets as supplements. He confirmed that this was the best course we could have taken and his only concern was that I had kept up my calcium intake.  On hearing that I had been taking calcium throughout the pregnancy, he was satisfied that everything should be fine. He maintained that what is usually inherited is a tendency to be allergic rather than a specific allergy. However, given the family history, we would be well advised to keep our baby dairy-free until at least 6 months.

I intended breastfeeding the baby, but we felt that we should have an emergency back-up just in case. In the end, we hunted down a partially hydrolysed formula milk and bought a tin to take with us at the birth just in case things went very wrong and the baby had to be fed. The last thing we wanted, was for the baby to be fed with an ordinary milk-based formula if he/she turned out to be allergic to it. We opted for Neocate which was then being used in neonatal wards. That was back in 2002, so things will have moved on by now, I expect. If you need to investigate this, based on our experience, I would contact the neonatal ward of your maternity hospital and ask which hydrolysed/partially hydrolysed formula they use. Don’t be surprised if other parts of your local health team do not know the answers to your questions. You can get this stuff on prescription, if you can persuade your GP that you’re not being over-dramatic, just sensible. You will want to get it on prescription if you end up having to use it as it’s horribly expensive!

Once you have sorted the back-up tin of milk, all you can do is wait until the baby actually arrives.

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