Every pregnant woman knows to expect morning sickness during the first 3 months of pregnancy, then in the second trimester, it usually goes away. Mom can eat and the baby grows.
But sometimes things don’t work out as expected and even into the second trimester whenever you try to eat, your stomach feels like it is doing more slot machine churning than all of the Grande Vegas casino bonuses slot machines combined. Worst of all, it’s not gold coins that are spit out when the jackpot is reached.
Your morning sickness may not be morning sickness, but your pregnant body going into a hypersensitive mode for food intolerances (food allergies).
1. Pregnancy And Food Allergies (Food Intolerances)
With a food allergy, the reaction is usually with the cardiovascular system (throat, lungs, heart, etc.). The person has usually been clinically diagnosed with food allergies, may need to carry an EpiPen, and when allergic food is ingested, 911 may need to be called.
With food intolerances, the symptoms are not as obvious. The reaction could be 24 to 48 hours later. The reaction may also be with the gastrointestinal system. In other words, the reaction is not obvious on the outside that the person is having a reaction, but the person is still having an internal reaction. If these reactions are not dealt with, long term complications can arise later in life.
Most regular people do not understand (or care) about the medical difference between the two. Most laypeople just care if an EpiPen is needed and if 911 needs to be called. For this article, I am just going to use the term “food allergy”. But for the record, I am actually talking about food intolerances.
2. Testing For Food Allergies
There are three different types of tests that can be done for food intolerances:
- Blood test
- Skin prick test
The blood test tests for IgE or “immunoglobulin E”. This test is good for testing for allergies that affect the cardiovascular system (medical food allergies), but the blood test is useless for testing for food intolerances.
The skin prick test produces a reaction for both IgE and IgG allergens. IgG is found in food intolerances.
Although there are IgG blood tests, when I had them done for myself and my children, the results were incorrect from what I already knew, so I did not trust the results.
3. General Information About Food Intolerances
A person can be born with food intolerances, as I was. 50 years ago, food allergy testing was in its infancy. There was a test for lactose intolerance, but that was it. The general view was that for most kids, by the age of 4, food allergies usually went away.
But after reading the book, “Tracking Down Hidden Food Allergies” by Dr. William G. Cook, I no longer think that is what happens. Dr. Cook talks about allergies in terms of allergy resistance. He illustrates it through diagrams of a seesaw. When a person with allergies is exposed to a small number of allergens, the body can handle the reaction and you may think that you are having no reaction.
Let’s say you are allergic to milk, corn, soy, and pollen. It is the middle of the winter and you eat a piece of cake that has a small amount of milk in it. Your body is able to handle things, and you very much enjoy the cake.
But let’s say that the cake is made with milk, soy, and corn, and top it off, it is the springtime and the flowers are in full bloom spreading pollen everywhere. The innocent piece of cake in the middle of winter with just the milk is no longer so innocent. In other words, even though your body is able to handle each individual reaction when the reactions are combined together, your body can’t handle it.
To make things even more complicated, hidden food intolerances can be delayed by 24 to 48 hours as the allergen works your system. And that is not all … it can take 2 weeks for your body to fully cleanse itself from a food allergen.
As I explained above, food intolerances act more like a seesaw than the all or nothing reaction of a true food allergy. When your body isn’t dealing with other things, your body is able to handle small amounts of an allergen. But when your body is handing other things, there is nothing left to handle the food intolerance.
So what does this have to do with pregnancy? There are three major times in life when a woman’s body “goes out of whack”.
This why a lot of times foods that a woman may have been able to tolerate before, they are suddenly having problems with during their teen years, pregnancy, and menopause. During all three of those times, the body is going through a lot of changes and throwing a food allergen into the mix, becomes too much.
But pregnancy has additional complications because you are not only dealing with your own food intolerances, you are also dealing with the potential ones of the baby. If a woman (or man) has a history of food intolerances, the baby will have a 33% chance of having food intolerances. If both parents have a history of food intolerances, the baby will have a 66% chance of having food intolerances.
So not only is there the potential for your body to be hyper-reacting to your own food intolerances, but there is also the potential that your body may be reacting to any food intolerances that the baby inherited from the father.
4. My Personal Experience With Pregnancy And Food Intolerances (Food Allergies)
When I was pregnant with my second child, I was still getting “morning sickness” at all times during the day even into the second trimester. My sister had this problem too when she was sick with both of her kids. My sister went to a regular doctor, and she was hooked up to IVs for the rest of her pregnancy. I was hoping to not have to go down that road, so I decided to get tested for food allergies.
I went to the allergist. Although the allergist did give me skin prick allergy tests, I can tell that she was thinking “let’s placate the pregnant woman”. But when 5 out of 10 of the allergy tests came back positive, I could literally see the surprised look on her face. I was allergic to corn, chicken, milk, soy, and cottonseed. The milk and soy I knew about previously. The corn and cottonseed were new ones. The chicken one was pregnancy-related. It turned out this child was allergic to eggs, inherited from the father. So when I was no longer pregnant and sharing systems with the baby, that allergy went away.
When I was pregnant, I had to go on a total elimination diet of all of these allergens, including any of their derivates. It was hard. Since almost all processed foods contain either corn, soy, or cottonseed, almost all processed foods were not an option, including citric acid, which is derived from corn.
Talk about going back to the basics. I could not even buy a loaf of bread from the store. But I adjusted, and a healthy baby was born (who is now a healthy teenager).
5. Food Intolerances (Food Allergies) And Newborn Infants
50 years ago, when I was a newborn infant, many doctors did not understand how food allergies worked. Nobody knew that food allergens that the mother ate, transferred to the baby through the mother’s breast milk.
Nobody knew that if a baby was showing signs of an allergic reaction, that the mother needed to change her own diet, even if the mother was not experiencing any allergic reactions.
As for milk formula … all milk formulas contain one or more of the following ingredients: milk, soy, and corn. If a mother is allergic to milk, soy, and corn, there is a high probability that the infant will be allergic to one or all of those ingredients as well.
If you are pregnant and either the father or the mother has a history of food allergies or food intolerances with themself or immediate family members, breastfeed your baby. Do not let your breastmilk go dry until you are 100% positive that your baby will not react to formula milk.
It is easy for a mother to change her own diet, but if it turns out that a baby is allergic to milk and corn (soy formula contains corn), there are no other options.
When I was a young infant, I was in and out of the hospital for the first year of my life due to my parents trying to continue to feed me commercial formula that I was allergic to and my mother not knowing that if she had just changed her diet, my reactions to nursing would have gone away.
My sister had the same issue with her child. The child was in and out of hospitals for the first year of life, because she was being fed commercial formula that the baby was allergic to.
I was determined not to let that happen to my baby, so I learned about food intolerances and how the body reacts to food intolerances. I changed my diet to match not only my own food intolerances but those that were unique to my baby as well. In the beginning, when I was getting into the habit of a new way of eating, it was a pain. I will admit that. But after a bit, I knew which stores sold which products I wanted. I created my own cookbook. My life adjusted, and life went on.
This is a strange tidbit of information that most people will not know. Not all formulas are the same. When my kids were older (3+ months), through a challenge, I was able to determine that they could handle Similac formula, but no other brands of formula.
I think it has to do with the fact that Similac breaks down the milk proteins during the creation of their formula compared to other brands. Different generic brands copy different brand names. I don’t want to say any specific generic brands, because generics can change. But if you read the labels and compare ingredients you can get an idea of which formula a specific generic is a copy of.
16 years later, all of my kids are healthy, strong, and have never had to go to the hospital due to food-related intolerances or food-related allergies. That is what counts in the end.