It can be hard on a mother when you’re doing what you think is best for your baby; like breastfeeding, and it seems to be causing more harm than good. Breastfeeding can be challenging for some and annoyingly easy for others, but what happens when you think it’s the breast milk that’s causing discomfort? A common scape-goat is dairy; “dairy” causes all the gas and fussiness in babies. But think twice before throwing out all of your milk, it may protect your baby more than harm.
Infants, weeks to months old, are still in the process of developing their digestive tracts. This takes months and an unpleasant result is an extra fussy, gassy, colicky baby. Formula fed babies may experience the same thing and will find their formulas changed to ease the suffering. Breastfed babies have to rely on their mothers to change their diet.
Dairy is often instantly blamed to be the culprit of fussy, gassy babies. But the opposite may actually be true. When a mother ingests dairy what she passes to the infant can help their bodies protect themselves from an allergic reaction to dairy. A study, The natural history of cow's milk protein allergy/intolerance, from the Department of Pediatrics, Odense University Hospital, Denmark, finds that when talking about cow’s milk protein allergy and intolerance “The small amounts of 'foreign' protein in human milk may rather induce tolerance than allergic sensitization”. By exposing infants to the cow’s milk protein you actually protect the child from allergies rather than create one.
A recent article from NBC shows the same is true. The American Academy of Pediatrics is changing its stand on foods a baby shouldn’t have also. They are stating babies aged 4-6 months can be exposed to milk, eggs or peanut butter and this may reduce the risk of allergies later in life.
When breastfeeding, the mother literally passes her antibodies to the baby, instantly protecting the baby and simultaneously building that new immune system. A cow’s milk protein allergy comes from an increased IgE antibody complex in the baby and is seen in only 2-3% of babies. The skin prick test will show if your baby is actually allergic to cow’s milk protein.
A cause for fussy, gassy babies may be their age. With time the small and large intestines, responsible for absorption of nutrients will grow stronger causing less stress on the infant.
Another cause may be inadequate nursing time on a single breast. Breast milk is composed of foremilk and hindmilk. The foremilk is carbohydrate rich and comes first and the hindmilk is higher in fat and comes second, the baby gets both from one breast in one nursing session. If the baby isn’t nursing long enough on one side and is quickly switched to the other breast, the baby will get a huge supply of foremilk and not enough hindmilk. The hindmilk (full of fat) is filling and will leave a baby satisfied. The carbrich fore-milk is NOT filling and harder to digest alone (carbs, breaking down to sugar, are hard on the digestive tract). This was also seen in “Colic, "overfeeding", and symptoms of lactose malabsorption in the breast-fed baby: a possible artifact of feed management” from the Institute of Child Health, University of Bristol. They found “The low fat content of the diet may cause rapid gastric emptying.” And “A simple change in breastfeeding patterns may alleviate some instances of undernutrition or diarrhoea.”
If your infant (1-3 months) baby is fussy and gassy when nursing, you might want to let the baby nurse as long as possible on one side so they can get the most hind-milk as possible. A few extra minutes should do the trick. This may solve the problem and no restrictive diet is necessary for the mother. This might mean you can keep the cream in your coffee, yogurt in your lunch and cheese with your crackers!