We aren’t shy to say, life’s been extra hard recently. Halfway into 2022, the formula shortage crushed our community, and it hurts. The recent tragedy in Texas makes us sick, and yet we have to keep moving forward. If you’re a food allergy parent, you’ve also got a million other things to worry about.
Finding out your baby has food allergies creates a tidal wave of events. The biggest? Food restrictions and diet changes. If you’re breastfeeding, you’ve got to cut out certain food groups entirely to avoid a reaction. Or if your baby’s eating solids, you have to find safe alternatives.
When you’re breastfeeding, sometimes you have no other choice — elimination diets are the only way to find your baby’s triggers. You only eat a handful of safe foods while getting your baby to baseline. (Talk about restrictive and stressful!) Elimination diets can cause physical, mental, and emotional challenges.
It’s hard on the whole family — and having support makes all the difference. At Free to Feed, we talk about real topics, like mental health. We’ll just say it: Your baby’s food allergy journey takes a serious toll on your mental health, especially during and after elimination diets.
Free to Feed not only provides practical solutions to help your family — but we’re here to talk about the critical parts that often get missed or brushed over. We want to make this tough time easier. And a lot of that involves your mental health.
Today we’re diving into mental health postpartum, how food allergies add another level of stress, and how to get support to take care of yourself.
Postpartum Depression and Anxiety (PPD and PPA) — NOT Your Fault
Why do we still have such a stigma surrounding PPD/PPA? It’s time to break that ceiling — for real! It’s not your fault, you’ve done nothing wrong, you haven’t failed. This common medical issue comes up for millions of parents.
If you’ve had a baby, then you’ve filled out the questionnaire (Edinburgh Post Partum Depression Screening) at your 6-week check-up. You know, when you’re still trying to figure out how you’re awake and what you have to do next — but you have to answer if you’ve lost interest in your hobbies in the last two weeks? (Um, what hobbies?)
Similar to any other part of our body, we have to take care of our brains. But sometimes, it needs extra help during certain stressful times in our life (hello, parenting, label reading, elimination diets, um, the world).
Let’s talk about postpartum depression statistics.
(Very little research exists on postpartum anxiety…something else that needs to be done!)
Research suggests that PPD occurs in approximately 15% of all births.
Other studies suggest that 1 in 7 mothers will experience PPD.
(Whether it’s percentages or people, these numbers are significant).
It’s well understood in the medical community that PPD is often underdiagnosed. Some estimates suggest nearly 50% of mothers are not diagnosed appropriately by a health professional. [1,2]
So, we’re talking about a serious mental health condition that’s frequently underdiagnosed. Throw in society's pressure to “have it all together” as a mom... If you’re a working mom, you don’t spend enough time with your kid(s). If you’re a stay-at-home mom, you’re not helping your family enough with finances. Breast is best. Don’t co-sleep.
It. Never. Stops! Society’s got it all wrong — and we say it loud and proud:
You’re Doing Amazing! Seriously. We See You.
But it’s okay to ask for help, and it’s important to do so. It boils down to a whole pot of problems; chemical imbalance, hormones, pure exhaustion, and trying to figure out your baby’s food allergies? Woah!
Stress flies your way and spikes your cortisol a hundred times a day. Let’s not even talk about all the other things, like maternity leave, strain on your marriage, libido, finances, and oh I don’t know — the entire state of the world. LIFE’S STRESSFUL. Having comforting, practical, “been there” support makes all the difference.
Free to Feed guides you through crucial health issues surrounding food allergies with your baby. If you even think you might need help — get it. It’s truly okay to ask for a helping hand.
Food Allergies While Trying To Breastfeed Takes A Toll on Your Mental Health
Finding out you need to eliminate food groups can feel daunting, even overwhelming. You’re trying to figure out what you can eat and saying, “so long” to many foods you love.
Often, the food groups you’re cutting make it harder to get all the vitamins, nutrients, minerals, and calories your body needs (especially while breastfeeding!). Dairy provides huge sources of calcium and vitamin D, for example.
Elimination diets can add another layer of stress to your mental health. It’s just not about label reading and finding foods, it’s how much of your life changes with a food allergy baby.
The concern and mental toll of elimination diets cause real distress. Mothers who struggled with past eating disorders can be triggered by cutting out food groups and severe restrictions. Or you may experience PTSD symptoms because you’re so scared of harming your body or your precious baby. As we know from food allergy journeys, slip-ups happen. (From an accident to being desperate for normalcy and eating a Twix. We get it.)
Even when your elimination diet is over, you may struggle.
We’ve heard from parents and Dr. Trill herself — some mental struggles come up even after you’re done with your elimination diets. You might find yourself overeating because you no longer have restrictions, or find it hard to eat more even when you can.
After helping thousands of families, we understand specific mental health challenges involved with infant food allergies. If you’re hungry all the time, struggling to eat, or know something’s wrong — please reach out. We’re so proud to continue giving parents guidance in all areas surrounding feeding your food allergy baby.
Free To Feed’s Got Your Back During Your Elimination Diet
Please, please, don’t go at this alone. Finding the triggers, getting to baseline, and making sure you stay healthy — are all-powerful steps toward success on your family's journey.
We created our top 11 allergen-free multivitamins for mothers struggling to nourish themselves during elimination diets (and they taste delicious!). Remember, elimination diets should never be a long-term thing.
Our team is packed with food allergy, lactation, and nutrition experts. (Plus, our fearless CEO-scientist, Dr. Trill!) We’re here to make sure the ENTIRE family’s fed and healthy. You've got enough to worry about. Let Free to Feed take some stress away with all our support.
Learn more about Mental Health In Parenthood, specifically with elimination diets and food allergy babies. Dr. Trill and Featherstone, a board-certified nurse practitioner and certified in Perinatal Mental Health dive into mental health being a parent on an Instagram Live!
If you're struggling, check out our groundbreaking 3-month Food Allergy Support Package for parents navigating infant food allergies.
No matter where you stand on your journey — support’s inside!