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Tummy Trouble in Breastfed Babies

Posted by Stacey on 11/27/2012 to Breast Feeding

Tummy Pain in baby is usually pretty obvious. The arching back, the tooting, the excessive burping/spitting up and the high pitched scream are all good indications that something is amiss. Breastfeeding moms have the daunting task of wondering about too little milk, too much let-down and that extra cup of coffee. In most cases, gas is the culprit but before you put down that broccoli, consider all of the possibilities. As always, moms know what's best for their babies! Feel free to add your own ideas and information in the comment section.

When your baby shows discomfort during and after breastfeeding, it's easy to detect a pattern in your baby's moods. Breastfeeding can be the cause of baby gassiness in two ways -- digestion issues due to the mother's diet and air bubbles that are swallowed during the breastfeeding process. By understanding the root causes of gassiness, both can be remedied fairly easily and you can work to relieve your baby's gas pains when they cause her to be fussy and uncomfortable.


If your baby is suffering from gas pains during and after breastfeeding, he'll exhibit classic signs of pain. These include fussiness, a tense belly and pulling his legs up to his belly to relieve the pain. When observing your baby's symptoms, analyze when your baby seems to suffer the most pain, which can give you insight into the causes of your baby's gas pains.


Common gas pains have two major causes, while a few other less common causes can also be the problem. Your diet as a mother can affect your baby's digestion. Babies are often sensitive to foods that can cause gas in adults, such as cauliflower and beans. Dairy products can also cause problems, since your baby's digestive system can have problems breaking down cow-milk proteins. Gas pains can also be caused by taking in too much air at feeding time. When your baby cries at the beginning of a feeding, she swallows air, which is then transferred to the belly while eating. Air bubbles become trapped and can cause cramping and pain. Thrush, which is a yeast infection of the mouth transferred through breast milk can also be responsible for gassiness, though it's less common than digestive or air causes. Infant thrush takes about two weeks to recover from.


If your baby seems to be suffering from gas during a feeding, wait until the feeding is over to treat the symptoms. Stopping a feeding could result in more crying and air intake. Once the feed is over, lay your baby on a blanket or on your lap and use two fingers to gently apply pressure directly underneath his belly button. Belly massage can also help release trapped air. If natural methods don't seem to work, simethicone drops work to break down bubbles in your baby's digestive system when used according to package instructions.


When it comes to gassiness, prevention is usually the best medicine. Track the foods that you eat in a day to see what types of food seem to affect your baby. Then, remove those foods from your diet to see if it helps her symptoms. If your baby tends to cry at the beginning of a feeding, try feeding sooner so your baby is not so hungry that she cries and takes in excess air. Offer the breast when your baby is calm and content. Your baby may also be crying because of the influx of milk that occurs during letdown, so try letting down into a towel or milk storage bag to relieve some of the pressure before breastfeeding.



Date 11/28/2012
Mira Bryan
Thank you for this article, it's just what I needed today! I think I need to cut out milk again because she's been crying out at night from cramping :( and I think she swallows too much air too because my let down is so strong, so I need to let down before feeding her! thank you!
Date 9/18/2013
Rachel Schoonmaker
I've been wondering what I can do to relieve some of the obvious tummy pains my 3 week old daughter has. She does exactly what you describe above during feedings. We have also been bad getting her to the breast before the crying begins. I'll be trying out all of these suggestions. Thank you!
Date 10/5/2013
Mary S
Thanks for this article! A lot of the time I didn't realize gas must have been what was troubling my son, but it's good to be reminded of these signs for the next baby.
Date 11/1/2013
Sarah Hayes
great article. I wish Id known all of this when my LO was having trouble. I tried my best to stay away from foods that would make her upset.
Date 4/13/2014
Block feeding to regulate my supply made such a difference for me - my oversupply caused a lot of symptoms associated with milk intolerance, including very uncomfortable gassiness, but I found no need to change my diet once I was able to reduce the foremilk my daughter was getting while trying to get more fat. I also find gently massaging her lower back helps relieve gas pains and keep digestion going.
Date 11/18/2014
Ashley Seymour
I will have to try cutting out dairy. And maybe letdown into a breastmilk storage bag....I hadn't considered that! My poor 3 week old is having gas issues and I really want to help him :-) Thank you!
Date 3/24/2015
Emily Bavaro
I've definitely noticed the signs of abdominal pain from my son. It seems to happen more during the day than at night (hope I didn't jinx myself). I really hope it's nothing in my diet, but I'll start keeping track. How soon after my eating would the food be in my breast milk?
Date 4/8/2015
katie m
I didn't know that about cauliflower causing gas so I'll have to keep away from my roasted cauliflower till we're in the clear.
Date 7/19/2015
Mary Schuh
We had a big issue with my second child having a lot of gas and colic. Gripe water helped with the colic, and she eventually got over the gas.
Date 7/19/2015
Mary Schuh
We had a big issue with my second child having a lot of gas and colic. Gripe water helped with the colic, and she eventually got over the gas.
Date 8/13/2015
I liked this post as my first son had lots of gas spit up and reflux. I researched a lot to try and find a cause and this page just has a great explanation that isn't to long and confusing to follow.

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