Nursing mothers are forever questioning each and every decision they make that revolves around breastmilk and the baby.
Is the baby getting enough milk? Is she getting too much? Why is she crying when I just fed her? Is something wrong with her? With the milk? Forget this, switching to formula!
Ladies, the breastfeeding game can be an exhausting one, especially when not everything goes picture perfect. Some babies and mothers don't take to the process as smoothly as planned and others develop even more significant issues. I don't mean that they are broken babies, they just don't tolerate breastmilk. Between 2 and 8 percent of infants are allergic or sensitive to cow's milk, and when mommy passes those proteins through her breastmilk, watch out! You are going to know that something most certainly isn't jiving with your baby and her meal.
Here are 15 physical signs that the baby isn't tolerating breastmilk and 5 signs that he is taking it down like a champ!
19 Getting Enough Milk: Packing On Healthy Pounds
Infants start off small, but they grow at an astounding rate in their first year of life. Most babies double their size in six months and triple it by the time they are smashing cake into the mouths at their one-year birthday party.
If your child is hitting these marks without a problem, then they are likely fantastic feeders. If they are steadily gaining lbs, but underneath where the growth chart puts them, they are likely still doing okay.
My kids never even made it on the charts and they were still considered champion breastfeeders because as the doctor explained to me, "They were growing at their own rate, but growing nonetheless." They also had other signs of being great feeders.
18 Might Be Indigestion: More Crying Than Usual
Fun fact, babies are champion criers. Crying is how they communicate their needs to you, and they have a whole lot of needs. For parents, the puzzle is: what exactly do you need? Infants cry when they are wet, hungry, tired, bored, and uncomfortable.
So how do you know if their crying has something to do with what you are passing through to them in your breastmilk? For starters, they will cry a LOT. If your baby is crying a lot after meals, and we are talking colic-like levels of screaming, then she might have some issues with what she is eating. Colic is described as a baby who cried for 3+ hours in a day, for 3+ days in a week, for over three weeks.
17 Might Be Indigestion: A Bloated Tummy
Bloating is uncomfortable for babies and adults alike. I know that when I am bloated and distended, I am miserable and don't want to be touched or even rolled off of the couch.
I can't imagine how upsetting this sensation must be for a tiny baby! If your baby seems to be overly distended in the abdomen and frequently pulls his legs into his chest and cries, there might be trouble a-brewing in that cute little tummy of his.
Take note of when the bloat is bad as well as whether or not other CMA (cow's milk allergy,) symptoms are present. If there seems to be a pattern related to feeding or a multitude of suspicious symptoms, then it's time to hike it on into your doctor's office.
16 Getting Enough Milk: There Are Plenty Of Wet Diapers
A great way to spot a champion breastfeeder is to start counting soiled diapers. This, my friends, is the wonderful world of parenting. Only us moms and dads get geeked over an abundance of poop and pee. Breastfed babies often go after each feeding, and if you do the math, that's roughly 12 dirty diapers each day!
If your child is leaving you at least 6-8 wet diapers a day on average, and the liquid is odorless and pale in color, then they are likely tolerating your milk just fine. You should also see between two and five seedy, mustard-colored stools every day until babies are two months old. At that point, they will decrease their excrements to once or twice per day.
15 Might Be Indigestion: Ghastly Gassiness
Gassiness occurs when there is too much air in the stomach or the intestines, and the result is often discomfort, bloating, tooting and burping. You would expect these symptoms from a grown man who ate one too many chicken wings late at night, (looking at you, husband), but not from your darling infant!
While all babies present with gassiness at one point or another, if your child is continuously gassy and is exhibiting several other symptoms of a milk intolerance or sensitivity, you might want to consider discussing it with your pediatrician.
Also, it's worth noting that there are lots of foods that a nursing woman consumes that can lead to gassy babies. Try cutting out foods such as plums, peaches, pears, broccoli, cabbage, garlic, and onions.
14 Might Be Indigestion: Obvious Discomfort
Babies are squirmy little things, and about million different factors can tick them off, so it can be difficult to discern whether or not something in your breastmilk is making your baby irritable, or their grumpy demeanor is attributed to something else.
If you notice that they seem physically uncomfortable after feedings and more irritable, then you may want to dive into the wonderful world of dissecting your breastmilk for common allergy and sensitivity culprits.
Dairy foods such as milk, cheese, and ice cream typically don't mesh with overly sensitive infants as well as eggs, peanuts, berries, shellfish, citrus fruits, and chocolate.
13 Might Be Indigestion: Refusal To Latch On
Babies veto the latch for a million different reasons. I was so engorged that I struggled to get by girl on there without causing her great distress and in turn causing even more distress to my hormonal self. Sometimes the position isn't right, other times they are undergoing "nipple confusion" because of mothers' sing both breast and bottles.
Occasionally they develop an aversion to mama's milk because eating makes them miserable. Would you want to eat if it caused you pain every single time you opened your mouth? Probably not. Chances are your baby isn't latching on for reasons not attributed to a milk intolerance if no other symptoms are present. If they are, however, talk to your doctor.
12 Getting Enough Milk: The Baby Has An Even Temperament
After a big feeding, little ones will often doze off into a milky-land of nod. This little post-meal, milk-coma is a reliable indicator that all is well with their nursing sessions and they are quite content in what you are giving them as well as how much.
Babies who are well fed and not under any digestive distress will complete their feedings looking relaxed as your husband does after his big, Thanksgiving meal. On the other hand, if you are noticing that this is not the case with your baby, and they are also showing other signs of irritability or discomfort surrounding meals, then a sensitivity might be at work here.
11 Might Be Indigestion: Congested, But Can't Blow His Nose
Up to 30% of kids with cow's milk allergies also exhibit signs of congestion. Really allergies and congestion typically go hand in hand. These symptoms tend to fall under two primary categories; mild and severe.
Mild allergy symptoms include chronic nasal discharge and sneezing, and severe symptoms include far scarier health setbacks like wheezing, difficulty breathing, chest rattles and even shortness of breath.
The latter symptoms are nothing to mess with. If you think that the nutrients in your breastmilk set off an allergic reaction in your child, get them help ASAP. It's always better to err on the side of caution.
10 Getting Enough Milk: Mom Passes The Chest Test
A nursing mother's body is an excellent indicator as to whether or not a baby is getting his fill of mommy's milk. Go ahead and give yourself a post-feeding chest test. After your little one nurses, inspect your milk machines.
Do they feel soft and less full? If so, then chances are your small champion feeder is draining them as he should. If they still feel hard and full after he is good and done eating, then he might not be getting all that he should be.
Draining those bad boys is not only crucial for the baby, but for mom as well. Ducts that become impacted from milk that is not cleared can become infected, and Mastitis is painful!
9 Might Be Indigestion: Sleepless Days & Nights
Sleeplessness can strike newborns at any time and often the reason why they won't sleep is as mysterious as predicting when you will rest again. If your baby is fighting sleep and relatively unhappy, take a look at his diet. Parents often feed their infants before they go down for naps and the night, as milk makes them pretty groggy.
If your baby experiences sleeplessness and discomfort a few hours later, he might be struggling with digestive or reflux issues. Chart what you are experiencing and discuss what you are seeing with his pediatrician. He might be dealing with a CMA or a milk sensitivity.
8 Might Be Indigestion: Skin Rashes
An infant's skin can be super sensitive to all sorts of things, and newborns come with the added bonus of strange baby acne, thanks to those crazy hormones.
So when does an infant rash signal a breastmilk intolerance or milk allergy? If the rash is persistent and paired with other cow's milk allergy/intolerance symptoms, then it might be more than a simple baby rash.
About 70% of infants with CMA have skin-related signs. These rashes are often very itchy for your baby and might be exacerbated with feedings. While rashes can pop up anywhere on the body, the face is a standard body part to see them appear.
7 Getting Enough Milk: The Baby Turns Away
Infants love themselves some milk machines. What is there not to love? Mother's milk gives them everything that they need to thrive. It's somewhat sweet, it's warm, and it smells like their favorite person in the whole wide world. Breastmilk is the best stuff on Earth to a new baby. If you find that you are nursing away and suddenly your baby rips off the nip, and milk sprays you both in the face, then he is likely nice and full.
Infants will turn away when they are all done nursing. If there isn't any crying, fussing or frustration accompanying this shunning of the tatas, then your milk is doing what it is supposed to, and there is probably no intolerance here.
6 Might Be Indigestion: The Never Ending Runs
Infant poo usually is pretty loose. Your little guy won't start passing stools like his papa until he begins eating solids. Loose stools from breastmilk will be lighter in color and slightly grainy, almost like honey mustard.
Infants who are experiencing gastrointestinal issues will often present with mucous-like or even red stools. If there is any black or red in your infant's diaper, then blood will likely be present.
Red stool signals issues from the lower gut and black indicates issues from higher up, probably due to uncontrolled reflux. Abnormal doo-doo is definitely worth bringing up with your pediatrician.
5 Might Be Indigestion: All Plugged Up
Constipation is another one of those fun side effects of a breast milk intolerance. If you have ever dealt with a young baby who can't go, then you know it is zero percent fun. They are miserable and uncomfortable, and it's beyond distressing as a parent to not be able to help them in their distress.
While diarrhea is a far more common symptom of a milk intolerance, chronic constipation can signal issues with a babies gastrointestinal system. Any bowel issues should be brought up with your child's pediatrician so that they are more comfortable and you are less stressed.
4 Might Be Indigestion: Spit Up City
Infants spit up for all sorts of reasons, so don't assume that just because your darling gave a little of that milk back in the form of stinky, curdled grossness that she has a milk allergy or sensitivity. She could very well be drinking more than what her tiny tummy can handle.
Is your baby a "happy spitter?" If she is spitting up but doesn't seem all to bothered by it and is continuing to put pounds on, then it is likely nothing to worry yourself over.
If low increase in pounds is paired with frequent spit ups, she might have GERD. Roughly 50% of infants with such reflux issues also have a cow's milk allergy, according to Neocate.
3 Might Be Indigestion: The Baby Is Not Thriving
In general, infants should double their size by six months. By the time they reach one year, that number should be tripled. Sometimes a very slow increase in pounds can be considered a failure to thrive. One thing that doctors will often look at in a child who is just not growing as expected is a possible food intolerance.
If there is an allergy present or a cow's milk intolerance at work, then infants are likely not absorbing the nutrients that they need to thrive. Factors such as throwing up and diarrhea inhibit a baby's ability to put pounds on properly. That being said, 3 of my four children aren't even on the growth chart and have zero allergies.
2 Might Be Indigestion: Trouble Breaking Down Sugar
Galactosemia is a rare condition, but sadly for some families, it is a very real and serious one. This is not an allergy per say, but the condition rather prevents infants from digesting breastmilk. Truthfully, these babies cannot tolerate any types of milk, except for breastmilk. Milk contains galactose, which is a milk sugar that is found in all milk products.
Babies with galactosemia have livers that cannot break down this enzyme. Common symptoms of this rare intolerance are vomiting, bloating, diarrhea, irritability, and failure to thrive. This condition is usually identified in the days following a baby's birth, so chances are your kid's symptoms are not due to this condition if you are noticing months of intolerances down the line.
1 Might Be Indigestion: Crying Instead Of Feeding
Is your baby crying her head off during or right after feeding? If you answered yes, it could be due to a milk intolerance.
Think about it. If a child is raising hell over a specific act, there is a reasonably good chance that the act is causing them distress in some way. Of course, she could be crying because you feed her when she is tired, and tired babies cry.
She could also be wailing away because she is overly hungry. Hungry babies are little haters too. If the crying during or after feeding is paired with other intolerance symptoms though, she might have a milk sensitivity or even an allergy.