Sunday 4 February 2018

Why Our Three Month Old has Soya Milk

The week I shared My Breastfeeding Journey was the same week everything came to head with Joshua's milk problems and suspected allergy. I think part of me wonders whether we would be having the problems we have had if I'd been breastfeeding but we'll never know that. Quick disclaimer, we are FULLY aware soya milk is not recommended for babies under six months old due to studies into reproduction and the phytoestrogens which are naturally found in the soya plant. We have done a lot of research into this before making our decision with the support of our health visitor. Also note, that all babies are different and if you think your baby may have an allergy speak to a GP or health visitor.

From around seven weeks old, Joshua suffered terribly with what could only be described as severe colic like symptoms which we put down to colic. We've had a relatively happy baby from the beginning, he ate well, gained weight well and slept really well, and we've had no complaints. We were feeding him with the Aptamil First Infant milk with absolutely no problems at first, the only time we noticed that something wasn't right, as if we used the pre-made bottles and they were cold. The boy hates cold milk with a passion. Gradually he started to have longer crying fits where he was clearly in agony. His little body reacted with severe stomach spasms and sickness and he found it very difficult to get up any wind. We tried Infacol, warm towels on his belly, moving his legs like he's riding a bike, gripe water, you name it and we tried it. Nothing worked. 

This wouldn't happen every day, some days there would be no crying fits at all and he'd take his milk really well, other days would be awful. He would cry out so much in agony that he'd fall asleep through sheer exhaustion where he would then sleep for hours, wake up hungry and the cycle would start again. We recently joined a baby massage class and the very first morning was hell. As we arrived at the class, Joshua woke up crying, hungry for a feed which meant for the duration of the class, he cried. A lot. Anything I tried to do with him would just frustrate him more, I ended up spending the majority of the class on the verge of tears, trying to calm him down while I watched everyone around me with their docile babies.

That class was the first time I had been around a group of babies and the difference between Joshua to the six other babies was quite shocking. It suddenly dawned on us that it wasn't just colic, there was something wrong and we needed to do something about it as soon as possible. I spent that evening looking into dairy and lactose allergies in babies before making an appointment with our GP. Both my sister and I had dairy allergies as babies and as the symptoms were very similar, we put two and two together. 

The GP was less than helpful. I'm not having much luck, am I? I tried to explain why I thought there was a problem, explained I also had a dairy allergy as a baby and maybe Joshua is the same as me and what could we do. She didn't say much at all, cut me off when she did speak, prodded his belly to see if it was soft, which of course it was because he was asleep then printed a prescription with a powdered formula on and that was it. No discussion about what else it may be, what steps we need to take next or what exactly she had prescribed. I felt so deflated.

Joshua was given Similac Alimentrum but as infant prescription formula isn't held in most pharmacies due to dating, we had to order it in. I bought a small Aptamil Lactose-Free formula to see us through until the formula arrived and started him on that straight away. He seemed to take to it quite well and once we had the Similac that Wednesday evening, we moved him straight over. Nothing quite prepares you for the vile smell of Similac though, think old starchy potatoes! Bleurgh. 

Joshua reacted to Similac worse than he did with the normal Aptamil. It was heartbreaking and nothing we did helped, we just had to try and comfort him until he fell asleep, exhausted. We weren't expecting immediate results so continued the Similac into Thursday, the doctor advised us to keep him on it for two weeks but as they only prescribe two pots of 400g due to cost which is just enough for one week, I had to make another appointment for the following Tuesday. In between this I'd also seen a GP for myself and was told maybe I just have a baby that likes to cry. As you can imagine my patience was wearing extremely thin by this point. 

By Friday, 48 hours after first giving Joshua the Similac, it was clear it wasn't making a difference. As Similac still contains milk and a broken down form of lactose he was obviously tolerating it poorly and we weren't prepared to keep him on something that to him, was effectively a poison. We weren't prepared to have him trial Similac to be moved to Nutramigan and then Neocate. Enough was enough and we bought a tin of SMA Wysoy that evening. 

Wysoy is a nutritionally balanced complete formula for babies who are intolerant to cow's milk or are being raised on a vegan diet. It is completely safe to give from birth, is available on the shelves to buy and contains everything required in the formula to give the maximum health benefits to your baby. The reason it is not advised for babies under six months is that some people are concerned that soya-based products can affect the development of reproductive organs due to the phytoestrogens which are similar to the female sex hormone. We read article after article, study after study on this and as there is no solid evidence and we sure as hell wouldn't be questioned on it, had we been raising him vegan we made the decision, together, to switch Joshua to milk that would give him everything he needs, no longer keep him in pain and actually allow him to become our happy little boy, all the time. The change in him was instant and it just cemented the fact that we'd made the right decision. 

Four days later we had our milk check-up with the doctor, our health visitor who was more than happy with our decision to move Joshua to soya milk assured us that the doctor would be able to add this to his notes and give Wysoy on prescription*. All I can say is, thank God Arran was with me because the appointment went horrifically bad. The GP we saw, for his milk review, didn't know anything about infant formulas, and therefore couldn't help us. Her words, not mine. 

I began to explain what was happening, what had happened when we switched him to the Wysoy and what would we have to do next in regards to allergies. The GP then started to Google what to do and said she wouldn't be able to help us. I asked for Wysoy to be added to his notes and if we could have a prescription four times and she refused every time. I sat in tears while the GP did nothing and then because I refused to leave the room until she gave us even a snippet of allergy advice I was accused of threatening behaviour. If I wasn't so upset, I would've laughed in her face. The final straw was when I asked if, had we not taken it into our own hands, would she have left us to continue to give the milk that was making him so poorly, she said yes. I walked out of the room at that point. 

That same week, we headed to a drop in weigh session and spoke to another health visitor while getting him weighed about the milk problems we've been having. We were reassured we did exactly the right thing and Joshua is happy, healthy and gaining weight really well so we can relax that our gut instinct was right.

Joshua has now been on Wysoy for three weeks and it is honestly like having a different baby. He doesn't wake up screaming, he doesn't get severe stomach spasms and he doesn't cry for hours on end. He is exactly how you would expect a three-month-old baby to behave, happy, healthy and sleeping even better than the little trooper was anyway because he doesn't just fall asleep through the exhaustion of a crying fit. We've been questioned a few times on our decision but he's our son and as his parents, we know best. Guidelines are just guidelines at the end of the day and ultimately you need to trust your gut. We have zero doubts. 

*Disclaimer - I am very much of the belief that if you have an item put on prescription that is also available to buy in a pharmacy over the counter and you can afford to buy it, then you really should. This doesn't include large quantities of items.
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