Guide for Keeping Your Baby's Belly Calm While Breastfeeding - Legendairy Milk

Guide for Keeping Your Baby's Belly Calm While Breastfeeding

By: Sabrina Granniss, IBCLC


7 min

Nobody likes having an upset tummy, including your baby. When your baby has gas or constipation causing belly upset and discomfort, you want to have some tried and true ways to get rid of their discomfort fast. It is also important to dig deeper and figure out what is causing their belly to be bothered. Getting to the root of the issue helps ensure your baby stays free and clear of tummy troubles.

It is normal for your baby to pass gas and burp. As your baby eats, they may swallow small amounts of air and will usually burp when they are done feeding or between switching from one breast to the other during a nursing session. A small amount of spit-up may accompany the burp, but only sometimes.

Gas bubbles form during digestion as bacteria ferment and digest carbohydrates. (6) Air in the intestines is released when your baby passes gas. All is well if your baby is easily passing gas and doesn’t seem bothered. Gas is a problem if they get upset and have a hard time passing the gas, are passing smelly gas, or seem to have more gas than usual.

Symptoms of tummy trouble:

  • Crying - When your baby is having a hard time passing gas, causing discomfort, they may cry and be hard to console.

  • Grimace - That face when their eyebrows furl and a frown comes over their face, letting you know something is not feeling good.

  • Straining - Anytime your baby has a hard time passing gas or pooping. When they are straining, they may curl their legs in towards their belly, making grunting sounds and crying.

  • Spitting up - A little spit-up happens sometimes, but if your baby seems uncomfortable, spits up large amounts, or after every feeding, they may be having tummy troubles.

  • Infrequent stooling - Babies stool more often during the first three months of life. The average is 4-6 times per day or up to after every time they feed. After three months of life, stooling patterns tend to slow down, and your baby may poop 2-4 times each day. (1)

  • Explosive stooling - Your baby should poop with ease. If they are having explosive episodes, it may be a result of compromised gut health. Explosions tend to happen after episodes of skipped bowel movements. If your baby is constipated, waste accumulates in the intestines, and when your baby does poop, it is a lot and might be forceful. We want a smooth-running system that digests your milk and eliminates waste regularly. Any backups or a slowed-down system can lead to discomfort.

  • Arch their back while feeding - Gas pains while feeding may cause your baby to arch their back and have a hard time continuing to nurse.

  • Difficulty sleeping - Gas and belly discomfort can make it hard for your baby to get restful sleep. The gas pains may wake them up and keep them up until their belly settles.

Causes of excess gas for your baby:

  • Breastfeeding position - If your baby is not snuggled in close and able to latch deeply, they may take in more air, causing gas and the need to burp more often for relief. Your baby should face you and have lots of contact with their body against yours. When their chin touches the breast, they will open their mouth wide to latch, taking in a large portion of areola tissue, and the nipple is last to enter their mouth right below their top lip. Being in a reclined position allows you to use gravity to keep your baby close. Using a sling can help give extra support so you can have your hands more free and your baby in a more upright position to latch as they extend their head back, looking up toward you while latching.
  • Bottle feeding - The shape of a bottle nipple plays an important role in how deeply your baby can latch on to the bottle. The nipple shape should be gradual from nipple to base to allow your baby to keep a wider gape and deeper latch at the bottle, reducing air intake. A slow-flow nipple and paced feeding can reduce gulping and less air to be swallowed during a feed.
  • Oral restrictions - Tongue ties, lip ties, and buccal (cheek) ties can all impact the ability of your baby to open their mouth wide, latch deeply, and have a full range of motion of their tongue to nurse or bottle feed. (5) If they are unable to latch deeply or form a nice seal while feeding due to restriction or tension, they will swallow more air, which can give them uncomfortable gas. Oral ties should be assessed by an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) who has specific education in oral function to notice areas of tension, your baby’s range of motion of their tongue, and how it impacts their ability to feed.
  • Forceful milk let-down - If your let-down is very forceful and your baby cannot handle the sudden and fast flow, they may gulp, gag, or struggle while feeding and swallow excess air. Babies are often able to handle a fast flow of milk. Reposition your baby to give them a better ability to manage your milk flow. Give reclined, side lying, or straddle hold a try.
  • Oversupply - There are different reasons someone may end up with an oversupply. Adding pumping to your routine may be necessary if you are returning to work, and it can be done comfortably without creating an oversupply of milk. Adding more pumping sessions than are needed to meet your baby’s needs can cause overproduction. There are many hormones involved in making milk. Sometimes, hormonal imbalance is at the root of an oversupply. (8)
  • Food sensitivities and gut health - There are no specific groups of food that a lactating person needs to avoid. People worldwide enjoy a variety of foods and spices while breastfeeding their babies. Your baby may be sensitive or allergic to a particular food, affecting digestion and causing gas and other symptoms.
  • Gut health - If you have gut health issues, it often means your baby does as well since a mother’s microbiome is passed on to her baby during pregnancy, birth, and feeding. (9) An excellent place to start is to add in more nutrient-dense foods and cut out processed foods. 

How to relieve your baby's gas:

  • A warm bath with Epsom salt - A soothing, warm bath can help relax you and your baby. Epsom salts give the body magnesium, which many people are deficient in. It can relax the bowels and help with constipation. (3) You want to make sure your baby stays in your arms in the bath and not take in any bath water.

  • Castor oil compress - Castor oil can help reduce inflammation and relieve gas quickly for your baby. (7) Remember, castor oil can be messy. It can be great to do right before bathtime and can be done several times a day if needed.

  • Bicycle legs - Alternating pushing your baby’s legs toward their belly like they are pedaling on a bike can put a little pressure on the abdomen and help release trapped gas.

  • Infant massage - Gentle touch and massage can help bring relaxation to you and your baby. It can promote digestion and help to relieve gas and constipation. There is a stroke called “I Love You” where you gently follow the path of the intestines, rubbing the belly in a clockwise motion and working out gas bubbles in your baby’s tummy. You may consider taking an infant massage class to add this tool to your toolbox and enjoy all the benefits of doing massage with your baby.

  • Heal the gut - This takes time, but the benefits last a lifetime. Improving your microbiome changes the baby’s microbiome. (4) Cut out foods and environmental toxins and add supplements and foods to support your body. You might find it helpful to work with an IBCLC with education specific to gut health, a holistic healthcare provider, or your trusted healthcare provider to help create a plan toward your goal.

  • Probiotics - They can help add beneficial bacteria to your system. This needs to be done in combination with dietary changes to support the bacteria's ability to thrive and grow, changing the gut flora community.

Legendairy Milk's probiotic supplements:

Lacta-Biotic can be taken during late pregnancy and through your breastfeeding journey to support both mom and baby. Gut health impacts our overall health, the baby’s growth, and the immune system. (2)

Organic Baby Probiotic Drops can be taken by babies age 0 months+ and contain 4 probiotic strains to help support occasional colic, gas, spit-ups, and constipation - plus daily immune support!*

Relieving gas for your baby goes deeper than just helping them get out the excess gas or burps. After we help them to be more comfortable in the immediate moment, it is time to play detective and dig a little deeper to figure out what is causing the symptoms in the first place. Fixing the root cause improves your baby’s digestion, making you both smile.


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