Yes... but better to get to the source of gas.
By Kelly Bonyata, BS, IBCLC
The idea that certain foods in any mom's diet will cause gas in her baby is incrediblypersistent but is not founded in research. If certain foods in moms' diets were an overall problem for most babies, we would expect that cultures that emphasize those foods would have more gassy and fussy babies, but this does not occur at all.
This is not to say that certain foods would not bother a particular baby - this does happen occasionally (and it's more likely with very young babies). However, there is no list of foods that every mom should avoid while breastfeeding. In fact, most babies are fine with any food that mom eats, so there is no reason to avoid a food unless you notice an obvious reaction in your baby every time you eat a particular food.
Most babies are gassy from time to time, some more than others. Gassiness is often worse at night. This is due, on the most part, to baby's immature digestive system and hasnothing to do with what mom does or eats. Because so many people promote the idea that food in mom's diet causes gas, many a breastfeeding mom will immediately assume it is due to something she has eaten if her baby is gassy.
The list of foods that "might cause gas" is practically endless, and moms who try to avoid all these foods will (needlessly) have a *very* limited diet. Formula-feeding moms blame it on a chill, a draft, the formula type, the formula being too hot or cold, baby being overdressed, underdressed, jostled too much, etc. Formula-feeding moms never think it was what the cow ate the day she was milked, months ago!
Breastmilk is made from what passes into mom's blood, not what is in her stomach or digestive track. Below are a few common questions that moms have about breastfeeding and gassy babies.
Can drinking carbonated sodas cause gas in baby? No. For something to pass into your milk, it must first pass into your bloodstream. It's the carbonation in sodas, etc. that can cause gas in mom. The bubbles in a carbonated drink cannot pass into your milk and affect baby. If this could happen, you'd have carbonated blood and carbonated milk!
If mom is gassy, can that make baby gassy? No. Gas in mom's body cannot pass into breastmilk.
See also Can a nursing mother eat this food? which includes a discussion of How will eating "gassy foods" affect baby?
TimeFor most babies, the number one most effective treatment for gas is TIME. Babies are born with an immature digestive system, and it needs time to mature. Until this happens, baby is likely to be gassy no matter what you do. Some babies "wake up" around 3-4 weeks to all the new GI sensations they are feeling and get really unhappy about it. If you cannot find an apparent cause for your baby's gassiness, he probably just needs a little more time to mature.
Gripe water, fennel tea or other herbal remediesHerbal remedies have been used for gassy babies for a countless number of years. I prefer to avoid using herbal remedies for gas in young babies. Here are my reasons:
Note: Star anise has been associated with illness ranging from serious neurological effects, such as seizures, to vomiting, jitteriness and rapid eye movement.
Mint tea is sometimes used for gas and gas pains. Peppermint oil and tea can be dangerous if given directly to babies. Large amounts of peppermint or spearmint are known to decrease milk supply, and mint tea is traditionally used for decreasing milk supply - breastfeeding mothers should avoid drinking mint tea regularly or in large amounts.
Simethicone drops (Mylicon, Ovol)This medication is considered quite safe, as it is not absorbed by the body. It breaks down bubbles of gas trapped in the stomach and the intestines. Whether this treatment iseffective is a different story, however. In clinical trials, simethicone drops have been shown to be effective in reducing the total amount of gas passed. However, they have not been shown to be more effective than a placebo when the study focused on baby's total crying time and the severity of colic-like episodes.
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