Tuesday, May 14, 2013

5 Foods That May Make a Breastfed Baby Fussy {Dear Best Friend...}

Breastfeeding is quite a learning curve for a first time mom. At least for me it was. I can't say it was all blue skies. I can say it was absolutely worth sticking with it through some hurdles. I learned the hard way that breastfed newborns do have a hard time digesting milk when the mother eats certain things. Not all babies do, but I would think most do. Often times moms simply do not connect the dots between a fussy, colicky, or too-much-spit-up baby and what they've had for the last meal. 

There are a lot of terms used in reference to a fussy infant. Colicky, high needs, gassy, etc. I am by no means an expert and I am not a doctor, but even if I was - I can't tell you "Your baby is colicky because ____." Every baby is different, every mother is different. But here are the good news: they outgrow it! Before you know it, those evenings filled with inconsolable infant cries and parents wondering "I don't know what's bothering her!?" - will be over. Of course that will be replaced by other worries, but I digress.

Here are five common possible causes of infant fussiness. How would you know if any are in fact causing issues? You can eliminate them all and then reintroduce into your diet one at a time every couple of days or you can keep eating them all and only eliminate one at a time to see if it would help the symptoms at all. 


Why? Some babies to not digest cow's milk protein in your breast milk very well. This is completely different from lactose intolerance and is usually outgrown. Simply put, it is due to an immature gut that with growth will eventually tolerate milk protein. It's not particularly common and it is hard to diagnose, but if you are breastfeeding and your child has the symptoms listed below, try eliminating dairy to see if it does the trick. It will save you thousands in medical bills, unlike our story...

Our experience: At two weeks old with our first baby (4 years ago), after two days of inconsolable crying, projectile vomiting, and blood specks in her stool, we went to the ER. When they told us about intestinal blockage and surgery we drove to Boston Children's Hospital for a second opinion and it's a good thing we did! Otherwise she would have ended up with a completely unnecessary surgery. Lots of worry, prayer, and tests, three days later - they told us it's just a milk protein intolerance. We were so thankful that the fix was as easy as eliminating dairy from my diet (which, actually wasn't easy at all - but I would take that any day over surgery on a two week old baby!). I pumped and dumped for 5 days while she was on Similac Alimentum (which she hated) and started to nurse again. I was just filled with gratitude that all the symptoms went away and we could continue nursing, she was such a happy baby! This meant zero dairy for me, not even as an ingredient in a packaged food. This was a blessing in disguise as we underwent a total overhaul of our diet and started eating healthier (and my own skin became more clear). After one year we started slowly reintroducing dairy into our diet in the form of cheese and yogurt, she handled it fine. We never went back to drinking homogenized, pasteurized milk though - I myself have trouble digesting it. 


Why? Some babies, especially infants, are sensitive to caffeine in the breastfeeding mother's diet. Some signs that a baby is sensitive to it may be an active, alert, wide-eyed baby who may be fuzzy and unable to sleep for very long. Caffeine in tea, coffee, chocolate, soda, and many processed foods may have this effect on baby. Here is a helpful chart at Kelly Mom on how much caffeine is in certain products. This doesn't mean you need to give up all caffeine! You may want to limit yourself to one cup of black or green tea or not-too-strong coffee per day (preferably in the morning) while your baby is an infant and your are breastfeeding.

Our experience: Through college I was a coffee addict, couldn't stay awake without it. My senior year I decided I had enough and hated how I felt without a cup of coffee, so I quit! I still drank black tea, but it didn't nearly have the same effect on me as coffee. Three years later I had my first baby and I noticed right away that she was different when I had my black tea. So I switched to herbal teas and have never looked back! Now, even though I could technically have coffee and black tea, I don't even want to. No desire whatsoever. My body just feels better without caffeine, I may be overly sensitive to it. Uhm, but I do love me some dark chocolate every now and then. Okay, I admit a little too often.


Why? While greens are absolutely needed and healthy to consume through pregnancy, you may find that they make your infant gassy and colicky. Vegetables such as brussels sprouts, broccoli  asparagus, green beans, and spinach can make baby very uncomfortable.

Our experience: I know moms who kept on eating greens when their babies were born and they were fine. Mine were absolutely not. Every.single.time I ate any green vegetables I would be up all night with an infant! Naturally it was easier to just avoid that. Even when breastfeeding my one year old, consuming any spinach would make him so gassy and fussy - it made everyone miserable. Not all greens caused problems for my babies, I still enjoyed making salads with Romaine lettuce, green onions


Why? Often citruses may give the baby a rash, it is very acidic and has high amounts of vitamin C. It make make the baby gassy or fussy in addition to a rash.

Our experience: Both of my breastfed babies didn't tolerate citrus very well and would break out with a rash if I had a glass of orange juice or several clementines. In our experience thought at about the 1 year mark I was able to consume moderate amounts of citrus fruits without any more adverse effects. With infants though, it was crucial to avoid it, it made the baby very uncomfortable. 


Why? Modern wheat today is nothing like the original wheat our ancestors consumed. There are several key difference between modern and 'ancient' wheat. While most babies would be fine with gluten in the mother's diet, there are instances of the autoimmune celiac disease when the baby is truly not able to tolerate any gluten. Just read Samuel's story, it's very real and important to diagnose.

"Undiagnosed Celiac Disease can lead to type 1 Diabetes, lymphomas and other cancers, other autoimmune diseases, and even death."
"That was Samuel. Starving even though he was eating... And we were told he was sick because he was number seven in a big family. Let me repeat that. I was constantly told that the reason he was sick, constipated, bleeding, not staying awake, and more because he was in a big family and exposed to more germs. He was sick for nine months prior to diagnosis."

Our experience: I do not have celiac disease and nobody in our family does. I am however gluten sensitive and sometimes I wonder if it is the reason I haven't been able to ever gain any substantial weight. It's as if what I am eating doesn't assimilate in my body at all. My babies do not seem to be sensitive, although I have no concrete conclusions. Their teeth seem to be doing much better without grains, so we only consume them on occasion and we try to stick with sprouted wheat or spelt when we do. It's just something I thought I would put here because it is a possibility and celiac disease is something most people don't always connect with a child who isn't thriving, is sickly, constipated, and generally weak.

What did your breastfed babies have trouble digesting, if anything?

My Best Friend Will Be a Mom!

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  1. I've really enjoyed these posts in this series. I'm expecting our first, and I look forward to these posts each time I get an email notification! Thanks so much for writing this stuff down - it's so helpful and some things (like this subject) I may have never thought about. :-)

    1. Thank you so much for your comment Laura, it means A LOT to me that you took the time to comment! Sometimes it feels like nobody is reading when readers don't take the few seconds to leave a comment :) Thank you!

  2. My baby absolutely has a problem with dairy. She spits up so much when I eat it. My oldest used to projectile vomit when I had dairy. I didn't realize citrus & greens could be a problem too.

    I read your blog but don't comment often because I'm usually nursing my baby. sorry.

    1. Projectile vomiting is no fun! Thanks for sharing your experience :) Oh believe me, I know what it's like to be nursing and internet surfing all at the same time, so hard to type with one hand or none lol

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment! All the best to your nursling, nurse on! :)

  3. I really wish you would have mentioned soy ... as dairy and soy can go hand in hand .. my son is MSPI which means i cant eat anything with dairy or soy . Once i cleared my system and his he changed into a new baby - no more screaming like he had colic , no more blood in his diapers .. just a total 360 for him !

    1. You're right, I should have mentioned that! I'll have to add that in. I guess the reason I forgot to put that in is because we don't eat soy since it's mostly GMO (pesticides as part of the gene). That's certainly important to mention. Thanks for noting that! Glad your little one is doing well! :)

  4. Cool! I am JUST starting to research what I will and wont be able to eat while I breastfeed. Although it's kinda interesting, because God has been literally been putting things to quit eating NOW on my mind and then whenever I mention to Leo he's like "oh yea, I was gonna suggest that to you today because I've been thinking about the same thing lately." So far it's been coffee and gluten (which I also see on your list!). I've scheduled a weekend to quit coffee when I don't have a shower or a wedding to attend and can deal with the headache at home. Gluten is going to be difficult though.

    1. I had to learn by trial and error, both my babies had a hard time digesting many things. But coffee, thankfully I quit long before kids, it would have been harder being pregnant! I've had headaches and 'withdrawal' symptoms for about a week or two after quitting coffee.
      Thanks for your comment! :)

  5. Thank you for this. My baby was so gassy it was insane. I'm gluten sensitive i guess your say and was gluten free my whole pregnancy due to cervical cancer and I had learned that gluten can weaken your immune system. Little did I know that it was also the reason I had other things going on also even just down moods lifted once I was gluten free after a few weeks. So now I'm nursing and Just got back to a gluten free diet to see if my baby's gas and extreme discomfort will subside.


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