Breastfed babies receive many benefits when they nurse -- all the nutrients they need in the first few months of life, powerful antibodies to help fight against diseases, and a nurturing and bonding experience with their mom. But they also might be getting some extra gas.
Gassy Mom, Gassy Baby
"It's possible that some of the gas-inducing foods that Mom ingests can also affect her baby," says Jennifer Shu, M.D., an Atlanta-based pediatrician and coauthor of Food Fights: Winning The Nutritional Challenges of Parenthood Armed with Insight, Humor, and A Bottle of Ketchup. If mom's breast milk is "gassier" than usual, it could start to surface in your baby within two hours of her last feeding. So how do you identify the offending food? It's not easy. "It may take up to two or three days for food to be completely out of your system," Dr. Shu says. "So, think back to what you've eaten over the last 72 hours to see if you can pinpoint a particularly gas-inducing food." But with so many foods on the gassy list, this might be easier said than done, and it's certainly not worth limiting your diet on nothing but a hunch. Here are some foods that might give you -- and your baby -- a little extra air.
Fiber-rich foods are at the top of the list -- especially anything containing bran. And just about every kind of fruit can make you toot, particularly apricots, prunes, peaches, pears, plums, and the citrus family. Green veggies can also leave you gassy: Watch out for Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, artichokes, and asparagus. And you can throw cauliflower, onions, and garlic into the mix, too. In the starch group, potatoes, corn, and pasta have the gassiest possibilities. Dairy can also do a number on your system, especially if you're lactose intolerant. Chocolate might not be an official food group but, unfortunately, it belongs on this list.
Moms who drink coffee in the morning probably already know how it affects their system but consider drinking it in moderation if you think it's disagreeing with your baby. And carbonated beverages are filled with air bubbles that you're basically gulping by the mouthful. This air needs to find its release -- one way or another.
"I have found that restricting diet and lifestyles of nursing moms is one of the reasons why moms stop nursing," says Ari Brown, M.D., an Austin-based pediatrician and the author of Baby 411. "So I really try to only limit foods if there is a true, direct association with a certain food and a certain response in the baby." Also, a limited diet might not be ideal for the body of a nursing mom. Milk production takes a lot out of the body and a balanced diet can help replenish what's been lost. And given the long list of gas-producing foods, you'd be hard-pressed to create a balanced meal without adding some of the top offenders to your plate. It's also worth mentioning that babies suck in a lot of air and produce plenty of gas all on their own, without the help of Mom's milk. "Even if a mom changes her diet, it might not help with the baby's gas," Dr. Shu says. "I've had some moms eat only chicken and water and it doesn't help. It's usually not necessary to go to those kinds of extremes."
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