Breastfeeding can be such a wonderful bonding experience between a mother and her newborn. Breastmilk is the best food mom can offer and has some incredible benefits! I remember breastfeeding my second baby, and the amazing rush of endorphins I felt as he nursed. I felt like the best mother in the world, providing him with everything he needed, right from my body, and I could tell he loved being so close to me - nuzzling right in to eat. It took some adjusting for us both, but we were blessed with a great latch and a determination to keep our breastfeeding journey going and going!
He really seemed to love it too, until he started having a lot of tummy issues after eating! Every baby is different, and certainly not every breastfeeding baby will react to what his mother eats the way some do. But there are certain foods that cause gas and stomach aches for little ones...
I was really surprised by some of these because I eat them almost every day and had no idea they could affect my breastfed baby's stomach like they did.
Babies get proteins, fats, vitamins, and carbohydrates from their mother's breastmilk - but here are some common (and not so common) foods that turn breastmilk into a stomach ache for the baby...
15 Giving Greens Gives Bad Gas
On the night of my junior prom, my mother looked me in the eye and told me, "Don't eat broccoli." I giggled, but she sure didn't. She went on to explain that broccoli contains high amounts of sulfur compounds - not good for prom night. Just the word sulfur stuck with me, and I've avoided it on every single date or outing. That little tidbit of information proved useful not just in dating life, but in motherhood as well when it came to breastfeeding. I soon found that my broccoli and cheese soup for lunch wasn't great for my breastfed baby! When it comes to breastfeeding, your baby gets all the nutrients and calories they need while nursing away, but when you find yourself eating foods that have high amounts of sulfur, you are just asking for a bad case of gas for mama AND baby.
Other green veggies to avoid include asparagus, brussel sprouts, cabbage, artichokes, and peas.
14 Onions Make Mom And Baby OD On Probiotics
Ohhhh, onion rings - one of my favorite foods! I ate a lot of these when I was breastfeeding. I was so busy counting calories and ensuring I was getting enough, but I didn't realize these crispy rings could have been contributing to my sweet baby's messed up tummy.
Onions contain high levels of fructans (which are actually considered to be a probiotic) and fiber. Eating too many onions can even cause an upset tummy for Mom as well. In moderation, onions are perfectly fine for your diet and your stomach, but breastfeeding mothers should be aware that whether you pop these in your casserole, deep fryer, or make your onion bloom, this potent (and delicious!) veggie might just be the culprit to your baby's gassy gut. Try cutting back if you are an onion ring fanatic like me, and see if that makes a difference.
13 Baby Can't Break Down Garlic
Garlic contains a lot of starches that the body has a hard time digesting and breaking down. Not to mention the change of taste it brings to your baby's palette! Some babies really like the taste, while others simply aren't big fans. Garlic is actually believed to be a galactagogue, meaning it can help increase your supply and output of breastmilk. That's really great news for mamas with a dwindling supply!
Babies that do not tolerate it so well resemble colic-like symptoms, so you should keep an eye out for this type of behavior when breastfeeding after eating dishes that contain garlic. Remember that, depending on your body and metabolism, the food you consume can take as little as one hour, or as many as 24 hours, to reach your breastmilk and your baby's tummy.
12 Baby's Belly Is Not A Fan Of Too Much Bran
Just as folic acid is SO important during pregnancy, it's also incredibly important for you to include in your diet postpartum, and while you are nursing your new little sweet pea. A great way to get that much needed folic acid is to eat bran! Raisin Bran, anyone? Oats are actually really great for increasing your supply, as well.
Oats, grains, whole-wheat pasta, rice, and whole-wheat bread are all examples of bran. Bran foods are all rich in fiber, and an increase in fiber causes the bacteria in your intestines to create more gas than usual. This can cause gas for both you and your baby. Once you intake any of these bran foods, it takes three days to completely leave your system. So if this food item is something you regularly eat, you'll need to wait out 3-4 days without consuming bran before determining if eliminating it from your diet helps your baby's bloating!
11 Baby Can't Digest Citrus Well
Citrus fruits are highly acidic, which can attribute to your baby's digestive discomfort. One of my favorite foods while nursing was Japanese! As it turns out, a lot of Asian dishes and foods contain lemon and lime juice (hello, citric acid!). Foods that are really acidic would be oranges, lemons, limes, tomatoes, pineapples, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, and gooseberries. So, basically, all of the tasty fruits. It's important to note that citric acid is often used as a ripening agent and as an additive. So while some of the foods you consume while nursing might not directly contain citric acid, it may have been used in the process of preparing or preserving certain foods.
If you are looking to add some fruit in your diet, without all the acidity, try foods like bananas (considered pretty alkaline), apples (also low in acidity), cantaloupe, blueberries, coconut, grapes, and watermelon.
10 Coffee Upsets Baby's Tummy
Coffee: mom's sanity; rocket fuel; brain juice; C8H10N4O2 (for those familiar with chemistry).
Coffee wakes you up and gets you ready to take on the day (especially when you are operating on only a few hours of sleep!). Unfortunately for us tired, nursing mamas, our go-go juice might actually be contributing to our breastfed baby's tummy aches and fussy demeanor. Drinking coffee regularly leads to an accumulation in your baby's system, and can cause sleep disturbances, gas, and irritability - particularly earlier on in life. Young babies cannot break down and properly process the caffeine in your breastmilk. Which is no fun for anyone in your household!
Some alternatives to coffee that will give you some of that much needed energy would be licorice tea (which gives you a lot of energy!), and chai tea.
9 Spicy Foods Are A No-No
Spicy foods certainly have a special kick to them, and are full of flavor and heat! But, if you are a fan of cayenne, chipotle, or cajun, be aware of the side effects your tiny human might experience after nursing. For the most part, babies do well with spicy foods, but some little tikes are a little more sensitive to their mother's daring diet.
If your little one fusses after nursing, try and cut out spicy foods for about a week or so, and then slowly introduce spice back into your life. In some cases, it isn't necessarily the spice, it's the amount that is consumed over a short period of time. So maybe even just cutting back the amount of spicy foods you eat could help your baby's belly!
8 Starchy Potatoes Are Too Much Work
Potatoes are a great way for nursing mamas to get those carbs and calories needed while breastfeeding. Plus, you can eat them in so many delicious ways: french fries, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, hash browns, scalloped potatoes, roasted potatoes, and even twice baked potatoes. Mmmmmm.
While they are delicious, potatoes are really starchy. And while your stomach can handle these starches just fine, your baby's isn't quite developed enough to process them through your breast milk. Because babies don't make the enzyme responsible (amylase) for splitting and digesting starches, it's recommended that starches are not introduced until after your baby has reached their first birthday. Because they can't properly digest these starches, it's understandable that these foods would upset their digestive tract.
To see if your baby's belly seems more relieved without potatoes, try rice as an alternative for a few days.
7 Caffeine In Chocolate Makes For A Gassy Baby
Who doesn't like chocolate? In a few years, you might find yourself chasing a chocolate-faced toddler who has just discovered your secret stash of goodies in the hallway closet. But for now, you might find yourself with a fussy, gassy baby after they've nursed - and one of the reasons for their upset stomach might be due to your chocolate cravings. When you consume an excess of chocolate while nursing, you are ingesting quite a bit of natural caffeine from the sweets. This caffeine gets transferred to your breastmilk, and makes or one fussy baby!
If you have a chocolate fix that needs attention, try to limit your sweets and try some naturally sweet alternatives such as dates, raisins, or frozen yogurt (all of which do not contain caffeine, and are healthier for you!).
6 Prunes Are A Natural Laxative
There's a reason the nurses in your postpartum suite give you prune juice following your delivery - prunes are a known natural laxative and help in the digestive tract. This is because of their high sorbitol content. For little ones with a sensitive stomach, this can cause gas and discomfort.
Personally, I don't know anyone that regularly eats prunes or drinks prune juice as part of their diet unless they are trying to alleviate some pressing digestive concerns. But if you do, considering the fact that prunes and prune juice are used to help with those types of issues, you could safely stop eating and drink anything with prunes to see if this elimination helps your little one's tummy.
It's always safe to assume that anything that upsets your tummy can easily upset your baby's tummy too!
5 Fiber In Apricots Causes Tummy Distress
Apricots are super fruits! They are great for your bones (because of their high calcium content!), excellent for your skin (with Vitamin A & C), good for blood (because it contains iron), has antioxidants, is good for your heart, and contains lots of fiber.
Fiber being the keyword, apricots help move things along in your digestive tract, and that benefit transfers right to your baby through your breastmilk. So while your baby gets all the amazing benefits of the apricot from nursing, they are also guzzling up that fiber. This can cause some tummy distress, and one fussy baby. If you tend to eat a lot of this amazing fruit, it would be wise to reduce the amount while you're breastfeeding to see if your baby's belly is feeling better without all the extra fiber!
4 Peaches Give Babies A BM
My son's favorite snack is diced peaches! If you were to ask him what he'd like to eat, at literally any time of the day or night, his answer would always be peaches. I can't give him this sweet treat every day, however, because just like prunes, peaches also contain sorbitol.
Sorbitol is a type of sugar, and works by drawing water into your large intestine, and triggers bowel movements. So this fruit is great if you need some help digesting, or in moderation, but perhaps not for your breast milk. If you are anything like my son, with a great love for peaches, reducing your intake of this delicious fruit should really help your baby's stomach.
Note: sorbitol can also be found in toothpaste, and as a sweetener in foods (like sugar-free gum) and medications.
3 Baby Can't Absorb Fructose In Pears
Another fruit containing sorbitol is the pear. Pears also contain pectin, which is a type of soluble fiber. This contributes to your baby's belly bloating and can cause or mimic some of those dreaded colic-like symptoms. Pears also contain fructose sugar, which is often mal-absorbed in your digestive tract. Of all the ways pears can be consumed, processed pear juice is the worst for your breast milk and little one's digestion, because it contains almost as much fructose as certain high fructose corn syrup sweetened sodas.
If you are big into pears, simply reduce the amount you eat per week or try to eat other sweet bit healthy alternatives. As I mentioned earlier, dates are naturally sweet and would make a great option for variety in the nursing mom's diet.
2 Lactose In Dairy Is Not Digestible
Pizza. Cookies. Donuts. Salad dressing. Creamer. Mashed Potatoes. Yogurt. Dairy is in a majority of foods (even some canned meats!), and really difficult to avoid. Especially if you are a lover of all things covered in cheese, like Yours Truly.
Dairy products contain sugar and lactose, and some babies have a very sensitive stomach when it comes to trying to digest it. If you consume a large quantity of dairy and are concerned that it may be the reason your breastfed baby is in distress, try eliminating it from your diet. It can take upwards of 3 weeks to completely get rid of all dairy in the body, but in some cases 10 days is enough time.
Nixing cheese and milk might be difficult at first, but there are plenty of vegan options available now that can be great alternatives should your little guy or girl have a gassy gut when you eat your favorite cheese pizza!
1 Corn Causes Stomach Aches For Both
Want to hear something funny? My husband's best friend thought he was the only person who couldn't digest corn - he literally thought there was something wrong with him because his body couldn't break down the kernels after he ate them. No one ever explained to him that it's something everyone experiences. He is in his mid-thirties, by the way...
The reason for this is that corn contains cellulose. Cellulose is a fiber that our human bodies can not break down. Corn is a less common allergen for babies, but can still be passed on to your sweet babe through your breast milk from last night's dinner. If you eat a lot of corn, you probably experience some stomach aches yourself! Some foods that contain corn or cornmeal to look out for are cornbread, pizza crust, baking powder, and confectioner's sugar.
Variety is best in your diet as a nursing mother, and it's always good to try new foods and flavors while breastfeeding! I just wanted to note that it's always best to ask your doctor if you believe your baby may have an allergy to the foods you are eating, particularly if they are failing to gain weight or seem colicky. A lactation consultant can also help determine if you should go on an elimination diet to determine if there is an allergen you should be concerned about or a food that maybe just doesn't agree with your little one's tummy!
Sources: American Pregnancy, Live Strong, Very Well