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  • Gassy Baby: Breastfeeding Doesn't Need to Stop But Check Your Diet

    Identifying gas or colic in a baby is tricky, but breastfeeding doesn't cause gas.
    by Rachel Perez .
Gassy Baby: Breastfeeding Doesn't Need to Stop But Check Your Diet
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  • Most people think that a gassy baby is a result of bottle feeding. Too much air causes a baby's stomach to bloat, and it causes discomfort and cramping. But a baby can also take in air when breastfeeding, but it isn't the sole culprit of gas. Your diet can be a factor, so you have to monitor your baby for any reaction two to four hours after a feeding.

    Gassy foods include raw broccoli, onions, Brussel sprouts, green peppers, cauliflower, and cabbage so better cook them first. If you have spicy food, it may also cause similar gas or colicky symptoms in a baby. You should also avoid cow’s milk and dairy products, carbonated drinks like soda and high caffeine drinks such as chocolate, coffee, or tea.

    If you notice that baby’s tummy produces a loud drum-like sound when you tap it gently, then your baby's discomfort may be due to gas. Some babies can relieve themselves by clenching their first and pulling their leg up to release the excess air by giving out a loud burp or fart. You can also help by gently massaging his tummy.

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    To prevent gas in infants, don't forget to burp your baby after or in-between feedings. Dr. Ina Atutubo, M.D., suggests that babies be burped every five to 10 minutes of feeding even if they are breastfed. If needed, bottle-fed babies may need to be burped after consuming an ounce of milk. Burp your baby by either hold him or her in your arms across your chest or lay him on his tummy.

    Gassy baby and breastfeeding

    Too much gas can be a symptom of colic. There's no one guideline to differentiate if your baby has colic or gas, but the good news is you can do something about it. 

    If your baby is battling colic, you don't need to stop breastfeeding, advises registered nurse Donna Murray, R.N., B.S.N. You may end up with the same colicky situation after switching to formula and bottle-feeding, or it could even make it worse. 

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    Nursing does not cause colic. If anything, breastfeeding may even help comfort your crying baby, so offer the breast even if she's not hungry. Skin-to-skin contact has also been a tried and tested technique to calm a baby down and soothe him. 

    Diet is a big factor, as mentioned, so try to eliminate one type of food to see which one you should stay away from at least as long as you're nursing. Remember to also burp your baby. These breastfeeding tips can also help prevent worsening your little one's colicky condition: 

    Slow down overactive milk let-down. 

    When your milk starts flowing real quickly, your baby is forced to gulp it down. This may cause your little one to swallow more air or distend his stomach. It could also result in overfeeding which can be uncomfortable for your baby. 

    Slow down your milk let-down by first hand-expressing your breast milk to relieve pressure in your breast so your baby can feed comfortably. Nursing in a reclined position, such as lying on your back or sitting in a reclined chair, can also help slow your milk flow.

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    An improper latch can also cause your baby to take in more air than usual so make sure your baby latches correctly.

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    Ensure your baby gets a foremilk-hindmilk balance.

    An abundant supply of milk is every nursing mom's wish, but an overly plentiful breast milk supply can also cause problems. One such issue is the foremilk-hindmilk imbalance or when your baby is getting more foremilk than hindmilk.

    Foremilk is the thinner milk and contains more lactose and usually the first released when your baby starts latching to your breast. Foremilk turns into hindmilk after some time, and it's creamier and more filling. With an oversupply of breast milk, your baby may get full with just foremilk and not get enough hindmilk. Too much foremilk can cause gas, loose green bowel movements, and colic symptoms.

    Breastfeeding is just one side is one way to help baby get both foremilk and hindmilk. Switching from one breast to another leaves your baby to get only all foremilk. If you finished feeding on just one breast, you could express milk from the other breast to relieve engorgement. Start the next feeding with that other Don't limit the time your baby's feeds unless you need to burp them. 

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    Nurse your baby before she's 'hangry'

    Anticipating your baby's hunger cues can help you attend to his or her nutritional needs in time. It's difficult to get a good latch when your baby is already fussy or already crying.

    What you need to know about colic

    Experts have yet to explain why and how colic happens in babies, even what it is exactly. Old theories suggested it's due to ingesting too much gas when bottle-feeding, but then, moms who are breastfeeding their babies also have to deal with it.

    Colic is common in babies between two weeks to two months of age; some infants having to deal with it even as they reach 5 to 9 months. Not sure if your baby has colic? Follow the rule of three's: when a baby has been crying for at least three hours a day at least three times in a week and persists for at least three weeks. 

    The long bouts of crying can happen any time during the day but are often worse in the evening and in the wee hours of the night. Aside from crying, colicky babies may lift their head, pull up or extend their legs, become red in the face, clench their fists, and pass gas. It may look like your baby is in pain. Some babies who have colic may also refuse to eat and have difficulty sleeping. 

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    No need to panic, though. Having a colicky baby doesn't mean your little one isn't healthy. As soon as your baby outgrows it, he or she will gain weight and develop as typically as babies who didn't experience colic. 

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    Causes linked to colic

    Until now, the cause of colic is unknown, but several theories have been associated with the condition. Here's a list of common reasons related to colic, according to the American Pregnancy Organization:

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    • Baby has a sensitive temperament and needs more attention.
    • Baby's nervous system is underdeveloped or still continues to mature.
    • Baby is overstimulated or understimulated.
    • Baby is having an allergic reaction to some ingredients in his milk. 
    • Baby has acid reflux, a stomach and esophagus condition wherein stomach acid flows backward up to the esophagus because of a weak valve. This irritates the throat, lungs, and esophagus.
    • Baby has a premature and still-developing digestive system. It's still learning how food flows in the body or developing its own gut bacteria. 
    • Baby is hungry. 
    • Baby is overfed. 
    • Baby has gas. 

    Since there is not one root cause of colic, there is also no one treatment for it. However, there are a lot of treatment options for colic that parents can try, but finding it means having to try and test these solutions one by one. Some of them include swaddling your little one, rocking him to sleep, riding a car, using white noise, and even baby yoga. Most of them will work but only temporarily. It can be frustrating and exhausting, so brace yourself physically, emotionally and mentally—and yes, you can always ask for help.

    Colic is harmless and is not known to cause complications. It usually doesn't warrant a trip to the emergency room. However, pediatrician ;Dr. Ginah Ramos, M.D., warns that if your baby has fever, vomiting, losing weight, looking pale, having diarrhea or shows a presence of blood in his stool, displays an enlarged stomach and persistent colic or crying. These may mean an infection in the gastrointestinal tract or an obstruction in the intestines. You need to inform your pediatrician right away and head to the hospital ASAP. 

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