Doctors, moms, and babies agree: when breastfeeding is an option, it is the best and healthiest way to nourish their little ones.
Breast milk contains all the nutrients that babies need, boosts their immune systems, and is even thought to reduce the risk of potential hazards. But every family is different, and for some, nursing does not come as quickly as it does for others.
If your baby seems to be experiencing indigestion during breastfeeding, you might wonder: is my breast milk to blame? In fact, breast milk is the safest food for a baby to consume.
But since your body uses the foods you eat to produce milk, what you eat and drink during breastfeeding can affect the composition of your milk. Some babies are sensitive to a certain food, and it’s possible for your diet to cause trouble in your little one’s digestive system.
When something seems to be bothering your baby, you can’t help but worry. Fortunately, breast milk sensitivity is usually fixed easily by simply eliminating the problem foods from your diet.
The following signs will help you determine whether breast milk might be at the root of your little one’s tummy problems.
Your Baby Gets Fussy After Certain Foods
If the food that you’re eating is causing your breast milk to upset your baby’s tummy, you’ll notice that their fussiness comes and goes depending on whether you’ve recently eaten that food.
A variety of foods can cause issues for babies’ gastrointestinal (GI) tracts, so you might try keeping a log of what you’ve eaten and when your baby seems upset to identify the cause. The most common culprits are the proteins in milk and soy products, which can be challenging for little ones to digest.
Intolerances of eggs, corn, nuts, and meat (especially beef) are fairly common. If your baby seems extra unhappy when you’ve been eating a specific food, it’s a sign that breast milk sensitivity might be to blame.
Your Baby Gets Gassy
Gas is a fact of life as a human, and babies are certainly no exception! But although some gassiness is to be expected in your little one, too much gas can be cause for concern.
Babies’ GI tracts aren’t fully developed, so it is easy for gas to build up and cause discomfort. If your baby seems grumpy or uncomfortable or is passing a lot of gas, it’s a sign that they might be having a hard time digesting your breast milk.
Your Baby Seems Fussy
If breast milk is causing problems for your baby, you’ll notice that their fussiness occurs rather predictably after feeding time. This happens because digesting milk after a meal causes your baby’s discomfort to worsen, and red-faced, grimacing cries are likely to result.
If you suspect breast milk sensitivity, keep track of when you feed your baby and when their bouts of fussing occur. If there seems to be a pattern, it’s a sign that breast milk might be the cause.
Your Baby May Have Colic
Colic is when an otherwise healthy baby cries excessively. Specifically, if your baby cries for more than three hours per day on more than three days out of every week for a stretch of three months or more, they may have colic.
Any tummy problems are likely to cause significant discomfort and indigestion for your baby. Excessive crying, or colic, is their only way to communicate this distress to you. If your baby’s colic seems to worsen after feeding time, consider milk digestion issues as a possible trigger.
Caring for a baby with colic is exhausting.
As you look into possible causes, make sure to care for yourself, get as much rest as you can, and stay hydrated – an energy-boosting, no-sugar-added electrolyte drink is a great option to keep you hydrated and support healthy lactation during this difficult time.
Your Baby Has Diarrhea or Loose Stool
Wondering whether your baby has tummy problems? Get your nose plugs ready because your baby’s dirty diapers might provide a clue.
Diarrhea is a common side effect of breast milk sensitivity. However, if your baby’s stool is loose and greenish, there might be another issue at play: a problem that doctors refer to as foremilk or hindmilk imbalance.
The milk your breasts produce at the beginning of a nursing session, called “foremilk,” is different from what they produce as they become emptier or the “hindmilk.” Because foremilk and hindmilk contain different amounts of sugar and nutrients, your baby must consume a mixture of both kinds.
If your baby is getting too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk, they might get an upset tummy from the high sugar content of foremilk. Help your baby consume a healthy ratio of foremilk and hindmilk by ensuring that you fully empty one breast before switching your baby to the other.
Your Baby Seems Uninterested in Eating
It might take you by surprise if your baby seems uninterested in nursing, especially if it’s been some time since their last meal and you know they’re hungry. But suppose your breast milk is upsetting your baby’s GI tract.
In that case, they might learn to associate the uncomfortable feelings of tummy upset with eating and develop an aversion to feeding as a result. This phenomenon is referred to as a “nursing strike.”
If your baby seems otherwise fine but is unwilling to eat, consider breast milk sensitivity as a possible cause. Make sure to monitor your little one for signs of dehydration during their nursing strike. If your baby refuses to feed, it’s a good idea to give your pediatrician a call.
Your Baby Make Faces After Meals
If you’ve ever had heartburn, nausea, or bloating after a big meal, you’re well aware that the uncomfortable feelings of indigestion are no fun. If your baby is experiencing tummy problems from breast milk, they will likely communicate their discomfort to you by grimacing.
Take note of the faces your little one makes to get a clue whether your breast milk seems to be the cause.
Your Baby Spits up Often
Baby spit-up happens, and most parents have plenty of stained shirts to prove it. But if your baby is vomiting after almost every feeding, there might be something abnormal going on in their stomach.
Forceful (projectile) vomiting or spit up with a greenish tinge is cause for extra concern. Make sure to call your pediatrician if you notice these signs, which are certain indicators of tummy troubles.
Your Baby Is Gaining Weight Slowly
Milk digestion issues make it harder for your baby to get the vitally important nutrients and calories in your milk. If your baby isn’t gaining weight at the recommended pace, you might want to consider the possibility that breast milk sensitivity is to blame.
Your Baby Is Fidgeting and Squirming
If your little one is arching their back, squirming from side to side, pulling their legs to their chest, or otherwise wriggling around, it might be a response to gastrointestinal discomfort.
Helping your baby pass gas by giving them a gas-relief massage or doing baby gas-relief stretches and exercises might help them feel better in the short term. Make sure to consider breast milk sensitivity as a possible cause so that you can keep their discomfort to a minimum in the future.
Your Baby’s Sleep Schedule Is Changing
If your baby’s sleep schedule suddenly changes–say, if they begin to fuss and wake much more frequently–they may be showing signs of an upset tummy. The gas and discomfort caused by milk sensitivity might be to blame for you and your baby’s lack of sleep.
A disrupted sleep schedule is challenging and exhausting for both of you, so consider if addressing a milk sensitivity might help you solve the problem.
Overcoming Breast Milk Sensitivity
It is always hard to see your little one dealing with discomfort, especially when you’re unsure of the cause. If you suspect that breast milk sensitivity is to blame for your baby’s tummy problems, talking to a doctor is always a good idea.
They can help you identify what food groups are to blame, and together you can make a plan to change your diet healthily and safely for both you and your baby.
Nourishing your baby begins with nourishing yourself. Remember that you’re doing right by your baby by nursing them, and remember to take care of yourself, too.
Make Greater Than A Part of Your Team
Resting, eating well, and staying hydrated are all important; trying a healthy, sugar-free electrolyte drink can be a great way to replenish your energy and promote healthy lactation. Soon, you and your little one can get back to enjoying all of the healthful and emotional benefits of nursing.
Healthy nursing starts with you. Try our Trial 6-Flavor Variety Pack and find your fave! Perfect for parched pregnant women and breastfeeding moms looking for a boost.