By Carrie Lauth
If your breastfed baby seems to have excess gas, it can be disconcerting because you're wondering if s/he is in pain. Surprisingly, some babies seem to have no problems and don't mind being "gassy". But if the baby seems to be in some discomfort, try these tips to help with excess gas.
1) Let Gravity Assist When Feeding
Basically, any position that causes the milk to go against gravity will help baby handle the flow of milk more easily, and cause him to swallow less air - resulting in less gas. Try nursing baby in the "football" hold with him looking at your breast and partially sitting up, facing you. Nursing lying down will allow baby to let extra milk flow out the side of his mouth. After a feeding, try holding him upright in a baby sling. Many Moms have found that their babies who frequently spit up are helped when they're frequently held close to Mom's body in a soft carrier.
2) Finish The First Breast First
At the beginning of a feeding, your baby is getting the lower fat "foremilk" and later on, the higher fat "hindmilk". If you remove baby from the first breast before he pulls away and give him the other side, he may fill up with foremilk, causing some gassiness, fussiness, and spitting up.
Let him decide when he's done with the first breast, either by pulling away or falling asleep. If you have a very strong "letdown", or milk ejection reflex, then this is especially important. You may have an overabundant milk supply. Try keeping baby on one side for an entire feeding.
3) Pay Attention To Your Latch
Be sure baby is latched on properly. His mouth should be open wide and he should have a lot of areola (not just the nipple but surrounding tissue) in his mouth. If he is latched on well you will have no pain, and baby will swallow less air - again, the result being less gassiness. It's also a good idea to burp your baby before offering him the second breast. Oftentimes a thorough burping will prevent spit up later.
Frequent spitting up is often caused by an underdeveloped esophageal sphincter (fancy term for the muscles that keep food down). The problem will likely resolve as baby gets older.
Spitting up and excess gas is rarely caused by something a nursing Mom ate. There is no one food that causes trouble in most or all breastfed infants. Nursing Moms worldwide eat a variety of foods (including spicy foods, garlic, dairy products and "gassy" foods like onions, cabbage and beans) and nurse healthy babies. Food allergies are rare in breastfed infants. If you have a strong family history of allergies, then your baby may be allergic to something that appears in your milk. Ask your health care provider for recommendations about changing your diet if this is the case.
Fussiness and gassiness can be caused by many different factors, including temperament. If you suspect that your baby's frequent spitting up is caused by Reflux, he may have some of the following symptoms: trouble gaining weight, difficulty breathing, gagging and extreme irritability. Ask your baby's Doctor about your baby's symptoms if you're unsure.
Author: Carrie Lauth is the host of Natural Moms Talk Radio (www.naturalmomstalkradio.com), the only Internet talk radio show and podcast for the natural Mom. She has been a breastfeeding counselor for 5 years. For more breastfeeding tips, visit SexyNursingBra.com