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Breastfeeding and gas

February 15th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Breastfeeding Diet

It’s widely written that certain food in a breastfeeding mum’s diet will affect the baby’s gas. Many new mothers are worried about eating particular things as they do not want to aggravate their child. While it is possible that certain foods will affect individual babies, there is no list of essential exclusions that is universal. Certain foods will bother certain babies, and it is much more common in young babies as they are a lot more sensitive as their body grows and develops. The truth is most babies wont show any reactions to any food that mum eats, but of course it is good to be aware it is a possibility and monitor any changes.

Most babies are gassy at some stage, some can be more gassy than others. Often babies are more gassy at night time. It is perfectly normal, and healthy as the baby’s digestive system is still developing. If the gas isn’t severe, and your baby is not under significant stress, then it is fine to assume that it a normal part of development and not necessarily related to anything you have eaten.

There are a number of causes of gas, which are more likely to be influencing your baby than your own personal diet.

Quite often babies will gulp down milk too fast, taking with each mouthful an excess of air. This is then needed to be expelled in some way or another. The best way to deal with this is to prevent it from the beginning. Some mothers might experienced “forceful let-down” which is when there is too much milk supply and the baby is essentially being feed too much, too fast. The easiest way to prevent this from being a problem is to feed baby so they are essentially above nipple level – this prevents gravity assisting in the milk coming out too fast. Another thing you can do to minimize the effect of this is to nurse baby more frequently, or to pump in between feedings. This will decrease the milk that’s available and make nursing a lot more pleasant for your baby. In addition to combating forceful let-down, it is important that you take the time to burp your baby sufficiently, this is something that should be done in addition to the previously mentioned suggestions.

Anything that results in the baby gulping in too much air can result in too much gas. Extended periods of crying, for example, can result in the baby swallowing too much air and ended up with discomfort. It’s possible to confuse the crying as a symptom of the gas, rather than a cause for it. However, it is much more likely that the crying is causing it. If you are concerned, try to minimize how long your baby is crying for to see if that reduces some of their gas.

Interestingly enough, bottle fed babies tend to have more gas than breastfed babies. This for two reasons; firstly the bottle itself tends to let more air while the baby is feeding. Secondly, because formula milk is not specifically designed for your individual baby, it causes more gas. In addition, formula fed babies tend to be more colicky, constipated, have more intestinal illnesses, and in general more difficulty processing formula. So, if you can, it is suggested that you breastfeed as long as possible. Supplementing with formula may undermine your breastfeeding efforts and result in premature weaning.

The best solution to getting past baby gas is merely time. Your baby’s body is just learning how to process milk and how to digest it. As your baby ages and it’s digestive system becomes more advanced, it will become more efficient at processing food. It is very unlikely that your diet is the cause of the gas, although you should certainly monitor your baby and if there are any strange reactions try to figure out the cause and eliminate them. Feeding your baby more frequent and smaller nursings, burping your baby, and giving your baby tummy massages are all great ways to relieve your baby.

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