Posted: Jun 14, 2013 11:00 AM
Your breastfed baby is unusually fussy, covered in eczema or passing weird stools. What's next? It might be time for an elimination diet. Find out how to follow your doctor's advice without completely losing your mind. We talk to moms who made it through elimination diets and saw results that made it all worth it.

In rare cases, the regular food a nursing mom eats can affect how her baby feels. Mom's diet can affect Baby in ways that range from general fussiness to serious gastrointestinal problems and eczema. With the guidance of a pediatrician or pediatric specialist, some moms have to go on what's commonly referred to as an elimination diet. We talked to two moms who are making it work despite the difficulty.

Diane's elimination diet storyIsolated broccoli

Diane, a mom of three from St. Petersburg, followed a strict elimination diet for over a year and a half after discovering that her infant son suffered from bloody stools and discomfort due to corn and other foods. She was already familiar with going on an elimination diet, but found it more challenging with her son due to the duration and issues o figuring out what the main culprit was.

^ Diane's tips for an elimination diet

  • Trust your instincts. “Don't disregard what the doctors have to say,” says Diane, “but if you know for a fact they are telling you something can't be true, keep following your gut.”
  • Do lots of research. “The internet is your friend as far as figuring out what is safe and what is not. Be familiar with lesser known names for ingredients on the label, and prepare ahead of time for gatherings by bringing your own safe food.”

Samantha's elimination diet story

Samantha, a mom of two from Chicago, had her first experience with a serious elimination diet with her second child. “My life revolved around my child's diapers,” says Samantha. “I do not exaggerate when I say my self-worth for the day hinged on her poop. If she pooped, I knew I did everything 'right' and if she didn't, then I clearly ate something 'wrong.'” When Samantha's daughter showed signs of improving, it helped Samantha deal with the emotional strain of the elimination diet and struggling to help her baby feel better.

^ Samantha's tips for an elimination diet

  • Give yourself permission to have negative feelings. “It's OK to feel frustrated/sad/angry/guilty etc. it's all part of the process,” says Samantha. “It's not easy, but it won't last forever.”
  • Get support.“It varies from person to person, but finding someone else who has been through it is invaluable,” says Samantha, who shares that Diane helped mentor her through the process. “Support is key.”

    Isolated supplememts

Take care of your own nutritional needs

When you're on an elimination diet for a while, it can really take a toll on your well-being without guidance and support. If you're cutting out lots of foods, you should talk to your doctor about the right kinds of vitamins and supplements you should be taking. Depending on the structure of your diet, it can help to talk to a registered dietitian or nutrition specialist. A professional will help you determine where you may have deficits in your diet and how to remedy that. While it may feel like your only concern is your baby, it's important to recognize that your health is important as well.

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