Infant Gas - Not A Death Sentence
Infant gas in the digestive system - how to digest the news?
Before you can formulate a course of action, it is important to differentiate between “regular” infant gas which afflicts most infants from birth and until their digestive systems mature a few weeks later - and a more severe experience of gas, known as infant colic, diagnosed in roughly 30 percent of infants.
The signs and symptoms of colic include: persistent crying, body flailing and contracting accompanied by an expression of pain (mainly during the evening hours), and particularly drained parents.
The time to refresh your stores is now.
Pediatricians, lactation consultants and naturopaths recommend implementing changes in nursing mothers’ diets and to see how these changes affect the infant’s symptoms. How do you do this?
To eat legumes, or to go without?
Traditionally, it is believed that so long as the nursing mother continues to eat known “gassy foods,” their infant’s digestive system will continue to suffer, but is this so? Not at all. This is one myth we believe it is time to dispel. Here’s why: the nutrients mom eats are digested and broken down by her digestive system, while breastmilk is created from within the bloodstream. As such, there is no way for the legumes, or other “harmful foods” to directly enter the milk. That being said, should you feel that your infant is sensitive to a particular food you are eating, it’s a good idea to reduce its prominence in your diet (or eliminate it altogether) for a few days and monitor your infant’s response.
Your infant’s discomfort, caused as a result of a buildup of gas in their digestive system, is likely to point to (according to some studies) a sensitivity to certain foods, or even an allergy (to cow’s milk, for example). There is no strict rule book that tells moms what they can and cannot eat. That being said, there are some foods that are still considered to cause more gas than others and it’s worth investigating whether they are affecting your infant.
Foods you might want to reduce/eliminate from your diet from a short, pre-set amount of time, to try and prevent infant gas:
● Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, radishes, onion and garlic
● Products made from cow’s milk
● Citrus fruits
● Caffeine (It is recommended to drink no more than 3 cups of coffee a day and remember that tea also contains caffeine).
You can add fennel or chamomile based teas to your diet, as they are thought to help relieve infant gas.
Balance is the name of the game
Whenever a nursing mother changes her diet, it is recommended that she examine the change’s effects on her infant. This should be done gradually, by removing one type of food from her diet at a time, for a period of several days. It is important to supplement the nutrients you are not getting by eliminating a given food with foods containing similar nutritional values. For example, when reducing/eliminating dairy, you need to eat other calcium-rich foods, such as tahini or almonds.
But what about formula-fed infants?
In the past, it was believed that formula-fed babies were at greater risk of suffering from infant gas. Newer studies evidence that this couldn’t be more incorrect - and that the manner in which an infant is fed has little to no influence on their risk factors for developing gas.
Is your infant exclusively formula-fed or nourished by a combination or nursing and formula? Here’s what to do: try switching the make or type of formula your infant drinks. There are low-lactose formulas for sensitive infants and other formulations designed to ease the digestive process.
Finding hard to watch your little one suffer and don’t know what to do? Don’t give up. Before you implement dietary changes, try: massaging, cradling, rocking and changing nursing positions to try and relieve infant gas symptoms and pain.
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