Michelle Beckner is a certified nutrition consultant and a mom of two. Michelle spent some time teaching starting solids, but has found her true passion to be supporting moms who are breastfeeding babies with food allergies and intolerances. Michelle herself has nursed both of her babies through dairy allergies and other food intolerances. She has recently weaned her youngest who is dairy egg and corn free. Michelle works to educate new and expecting moms on how to spot symptoms of allergies. She also works one on one and in groups to guide and encourage moms through this period of their breastfeeding journey.
Michelle grew up in Central New Jersey. She has an older brother that she is close to. She had a happy childhood. Her Dad worked many hours and her mom often felt like a single parent. They were divorced when she was in middle school. She was able to see him more often and feels that is a positive part of their divorce story. Both parents are now happily remarried. Michelle tells her kids that they are lucky because they have 2 sets of grandparents.
She went to school to become a chemical engineer and currently works part time as an engineer. Once she had kids she began to re-evaluate what she would like to do and how she would like to contribute to the world. Did she ever think she would be working with breastfeeding moms and babies/kids with allergies? Not really.
She took breastfeeding classes at the birthing center where she birthed. One of the things that stood out for her as far as what she learned in breastfeeding class, is the information about cluster feeding.
The early days of breastfeeding were relatively easy. She used the nipple shield for about 2 weeks until she weaned her baby from the shield. Michelle remembers spending most of her time topless and feeding frequently. She does remember sitting on the couch crying a lot. These were tears of joy and happiness as well as nerves and anxiety and feeling overwhelmed. She had oversupply and remembers this was one of the issues she had to deal with in the early days. We had a conversation about how moms time feedings and become obsessed with this task.
Michelle did not find out that her baby had allergies until she was about 5 months old. It took her a while to learn this because she was a fairly happy baby. She found blood in her stool and when she took her to the pediatrician that is how she found out about food allergies. She did have mucousy stools which Michelle did not know that this was a sign of allergies so she just brushed it off.
Her pediatrician suggested she cut out several foods such as dairy, soy, and nuts – so she did so. They told her to cut out these foods for 6 months. Her pediatrician also gave her a can of formula because they said so many moms can’t commit to this food elimination. Michelle felt that it was probably just a dairy allergy, after 2 weeks she reintroduced everything except for the dairy and her baby seemed much better.
We talked about how nice it would be if pediatrician’s were well informed enough to not only talk to parents about food allergies and suggest an elimination diet, but also gave referrals to a nutritionist and to a lactation consultant so mom could have the full team support. If changes are not so drastic, they are more likely to work at it and continue breastfeeding while finding the cause of their babies symptoms.
Michelle tells us how her and her husband took a look at their meals for the week and began working toward not only eliminating dairy but how to replace this food. So, she began experimenting with alternatives to dairy such as coconut milk and almond milk. Once she cut dairy out, she noticed a major difference in her babies stools. She now knows what normal babies stools should look like. It took about a week or two for her symptoms to improve. She thought she was a happy baby even though she was always spitting up. With the dairy elimination, this also dramatically reduced. With her son, she noticed that he started sleeping much, much better once she eliminated dairy.
We had a great conversation about why food allergies may not be noticed early:
When the mucous and the blood comes into their stool that means there has been an issue going on for a while, it begins to show up in their stools. Michelle explains her personal theory that she does not have proof of – just her own observations. She feels that once her kids had their 8 week vaccinations, she started to notice changes in their stools. Some vaccines have dairy proteins in it. She adjusted her sons vaccination schedule because of this. The same would be considered for kids who have an allergy to eggs and this is another ingredient in vaccines.
Her second baby:
Even though she knew she should probably cut out dairy, she did not do this at the beginning. She had ice cream during her labor. Friends brought lasagne after the birth. He seemed to be fine. At some point though she suspected allergic reactions so she eliminated dairy. He would still have screaming fits in the middle of the night. Michelle says that she felt horrible. Even though she was much more aware of foods and their reactions to babies, she just did not make the connection.
When he was 8 months, he ate eggs and got really sick. She decided to cut eggs for a month and see how he did. This is when she saw the most dramatic change in him. He was sleeping much better, not screaming anymore, seemed much more comfortable. When he began eating corn, she was also able to see how he reacted to it. He was eating lots of corn on the cob and did enjoy it, however, she noticed that he was just miserable all night long. She felt it was the corn and that is when she cut it out of her diet, as well as his. She immediately noticed a major improvement. He was definitely a happier baby.
Michelle understands that for many people, an elimination diet can be very difficult to follow. She felt she was already doing well nutrition wise and not having too much processed foods, but she was now on a mission to remove as much processed foods as possible and lots more fruits and vegetables. Michelle also feels like it is a lifestyle change. Most mothers feel much better when they eliminate dairy altogether and are encouraged to stick with this for a lifestyle change.
Working with Moms:
Michelle works with moms who are breastfeeding by suggesting they see a lactation consultant to have a full assessment to be sure symptoms are not lactation related. When she gets to the point of suspecting food allergies, She suggests a gentle elimination diet with dairy being the first to go as this seems to be the most common. She knows that when you give moms too much work to do ( eliminating many foods at once), it is hard for them to be compliant. So, her thinking is to start with the most common offending foods which is dairy.
Best time to contact Michelle:
Before the baby is born is a great time to connect with Michelle. She can give them a heads up as to what is normal, which is something she wish she new ahead of time.
Pearls of Wisdom:
Symptoms to look out for that might mean your baby has food allergies:
gassy or bloated
skin issue – baby acne that does not go away
mucous or blood in stools
Contact Info for Michelle Beckner
Facebook – @mlbfamilywellness
Email – [email protected]
Lori J. Isenstadt, IBCLC
Lori Jill Isenstadt, IBCLC is a huge breastfeeding supporter. She has spent much of her adult life working in the maternal health field. Once she became turned on to birth and became a childbirth educator, there was no stopping her love of working with families during their childbearing years. Lori became a Birth doula and a Postpartum doula and soon became a lactation consultant. She has been helping moms and babies with breastfeeding for over 25 years. Lori founded her private practice, All About Breastfeeding where she meets with moms one on one to help solve their breastfeeding challenges. She is an international speaker, book author and the host of the popular itunes podcast, All About Breastfeeding, the place where the girls hang out. You can reach Lori by email at: [email protected] or contact her via her website: allaboutbreastfeeding.biz/contact
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