Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Breastfeeding and "Gassy Foods"

I had an email from someone who's been reading the blog and has some breastfeeding questions. I decided to answer it here since I am certain someone else has the same questions.

"I have a few questions about breastfeeding that you may be able to answer.

1) About how long after I eat something will it show in my baby if it were to give her a stomach ache?

2) Do you know of a list of common foods to avoid (other than the obvious gassy foods)?

3) Is it safe for me to take Gas X and would it help my daughter not get a stomachache if I used it?

4) I have an intolerance for milk products, not really an allergy. I just get gassy and a little upset stomach sometimes depending on what it is. Do you know of a substitute milk product that would not cause me trouble that I could drink and not give my daughter a stomachache?"

First of all, I don't have the answers to all these questions. I do, however, have a handful of tips and suggestions.

Food travels through breastmilk fairly quickly, usually within just a few hours. But if you are trying to figure out what might be upsetting the baby, think about what you have eaten over the last 12 hours. Here is a list of common foods that upset some babies, especially new babies:

cows milk and other dairy

All babies are different, remember. Something I've had to stay away from with 3 out of 4 babies was citrus. No orange juice, mainly. Also, I went through a phase of eating a lot of almonds shortly after my first baby was born. As soon as I realized what it was and took it out of my diet, my baby was fine. After about 6 months, most babies seem to be able to tolerate most foods.

I don't know that you taking Gas X would necessarily help the baby. I wouldn't think so. As far as a milk substitute, I have known women who swear that it's the milk they drink that causes the baby to be upset. Most women I know have either switched to soy or just didn't drink milk. Do a test run for a week or so and see if you notice any difference in the baby.

I have to share a funny story: When Daymon was 14 months old, I took a road trip with my friend, Alisa (the one I wanted to fail at her attempt at natural birth who proved me wrong!) and her 3 month old baby, Savanna. We visited all the grandparents, covering 4 states in 2 weeks. When we were in Santa Fe, NM, my hometown, the first night we ate out at a Northern New Mexican restaurant. You can't order anything in Santa Fe without being asked "red or green?" referring to your preference of chili. I was born and raised on chili and this was the absolute hottest chili I'd ever eaten in my life. (They said it was the end of the crop.) Alisa is from OK and certainly wasn't accustomed to food this hot, and baby Savanna about died from it! I've never heard a baby cry for so many days and nights. We are certain it was from the red chili!

Another side note, I used to eat a lot of garlic when Daymon was a baby (I worked at the Olive Garden as a server trainer) and I could smell it in the breastmilk and on his sweaty little head when he nursed. It always cracked us up.

Everyone has stories about what they could and could not eat. Babies are getting used to table food through the breastmilk. They will naturally like and dislike the way milk tastes depending on what you eat. That's ok. Exposing them to lots of different foods through breastmilk is good. You'll figure out if something actually hurts them, like I did with OJ and Alisa did with red chili!

Another thing I think worth mentioning is that all babies go through a period of being gassy. It may be something you ate, but it may not. Their little bodies are figuring things out. Unless they seem to really be in pain, just love them, perform a little belly massage on them, and let it pass. You'll find, as they grow, some children are just naturally more gassy than others!


Cherish said...


Alisa said...

Oh I do remember this and feeling so sorry for the poor little baby!!

Julia said...

Lovely article. I am an Ayurvedic post-natal doula, and something I have found is that some foods can be eaten without affecting the baby if you prepare them in the right way. For example some babies tolerate mama drinking unhomogonised milk, served hot with cardomon, and almonds are usually fine if they are blanched.

Try it for yourself and see how your baby responds.

Stacy said...

I have found out that anything with Chili powder will make my DD miserable. Once when I ate homemade chili & another time when I had cajun seasoning on fries. She screams until the gasx drops kick in & she has a BM - then she's better. I try to avoid all chili powder now.
Although I did eat tons of garlic & onions when I was pregnant so she doesn't have any problems with those :)
Also, I was on a stool softener when I left the hospital & I guess I stayed on it a little long & it did effect DD - once I stopped it she had normal BMs.