Does breastfeeding make you gassy? Here’s how to avoid it

Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to nourish your baby. Yet, some mothers find that breastfeeding has an unexpected side effect: gas.

Do you have problems with gas? You’re not alone. Most moms don’t admit it but we are a farty lot.

Why does breastfeeding make you gassy?

There are many reasons for being gassy. The good news is that breastfeeding itself doesn’t directly cause gas.

The bad news is it’s related to your less than ideal diet and lifestyle with a newborn in the house.

Here’s why it happens and how to avoid it:

Breastfeeding diet

Facebook groups are filled with moms looking for advice on what to eat to increase their milk supply. Common foods recommended are oatmeal, garlic, fenugreek seeds (and all sorts of other seeds) and fruits like papaya and apricot. All of these can cause gas.

Carbonated soft drinks are full of gas that goes right through your gut. Bodyarmor anyone?

Having a baby also means no time to cook healthy meals. Most moms and dads end up having instant meals and takeaway. These processed foods can also slow down your gut and increase gas.

Other gas-inducing foods that contain fructose, lactose, sorbitol, or soluble fiber are:

  • beans
  • dairy products
  • fruits
  • whole grains
  • vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage

Having said that, there is actually no list of food that will definitely cause gas in all people. You’ll need to experiment for yourself to see if any of these foods are causing you to fart more.

Sometimes, food is not the culprit. Most people assume gas is due to the food they are eating but many factors can contribute to gas.

Breastfeeding supplements

Galactagogues (a food or supplement that increases breastmilk supply) are said to stimulate milk supply or oxytocin. Synthetic ones like Domperidone stimulate your gut as well, sometimes causing increased gas and diarrhoea.

Lactation cookies sound great and are definitely yummy. But they are made of oatmeal, flax seeds, Brewer’s yeast and lots of sugar.

Some herbs and teas that supposedly increase milk supply can also cause gas in some people.

Slow gut (constipation)

If you find yourself farting like a trooper after giving birth, this could be due to constipation. Constipation can also cause bloating and tummy pain from trapped gas.

Unfortunately, constipation is common after giving birth and can sometimes be an ongoing problem while breastfeeding.

Some pain medications like oxycodone may be given to you after delivery, especially if you had a C-section. These morphine-based medications almost inevitably cause constipation.

Lack of exercise, a poor diet, not enough water and pain when you poop can also contribute to constipation.

Pelvic floor damage

Pregnancy and delivery will stretch and sometimes even injure your pelvic floor muscles. If you had an episiotomy (done to prevent tearing – not recommended now a days), this takes a while to heal and can also weaken your pelvic floor muscles. All these don’t actually make you more gassy but can reduce your ability to control your farts.

Swallowing too much air

Ever notice that when you have a cold and breath through your mouth for a few days, you’re more farty? Swallowed air either comes back up as burps or comes out the other end as farts.

With baby and their never-ending needs, I bet you’ve never eaten this quick in your life. In fact, some days you’re lucky to get both meals in. The problem with this? Fast eating will cause an upset tummy, bloating, and gas later.

If you are chewing gum, sucking on candy, or having gassy soft drinks, that’s more air being swallowed.

And remember, what goes in must come out.

Digestive problems

Less commonly, being extra gassy can be a sign of something more serious. Digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome, coeliac disease and lactose intolerance can rear their ugly heads post-delivery when you’re sleep deprived, exhausted, overwhelmed and otherwise immunosuppressed.

If you are worried your gas is due to something more sinister, get medical advice.

What are some ways to avoid being gassy while breastfeeding?

All is not lost. Just because you are breastfeeding doesn’t mean you are destined to be gassy until you stop. Here are some tips for reducing the amount of gas your gut produces.

Look into your diet: Foods to avoid when breastfeeding

Breastfeeding moms should avoid certain foods and drinks if they notice that they fart more or have tummy cramps after.

Some of the biggest culprits are ‘healthy foods’ like vegetables and beans.

For example, Brussel sprouts, garlic, cabbage and almost all types of beans.

WebMD has a pretty complete list of foods to avoid while breastfeeding. Foods to Eat or Avoid When Breastfeeding (webmd.com)

Oh yes, and throw the gas drinks away.

Eat slowly

Take time to enjoy every bite. Appreciate the flavors in meals. Chew 20 times before swallowing.

Yeah right. It’s great if you can do that. But for now, start with not talking when you’re eating and chew with your mouth close.

Pelvic floor exercises

There is a reason why everyone in hospital is so obsessed with Kegel exercises.Kegel exercises: A how-to guide for women – Mayo Clinic

They are great not just for prevention of urinary incontinence and prolapse, but also for controlling how loudly you fart.

Retrain your pelvic muscles and you’ll be doing sneaky ones in no time.

Treat constipation

Drink lots of water – being well hydrated is important for maintaining good milk supply too.

And have lots of fruits and non-gassy vegetables.

Consult your doctor

If you’ve done all these and you’re still gassy, or if you are worried its something more serious, make an appointment with your doctor.

If I’m gassy, does this mean my baby will be gassy too?

Breastmilk is made from what passes into your blood, not what is in your stomach or digestive track. For something to pass into your milk, it must first pass into your bloodstream. For example, the bubbles from gassy soft drinks and swallowed air cannot pass into your milk and affect your baby.

But if you eat gas-causing foods like beans or cabbage, it can go into your breastmilk and give your baby colic or gas.

To wrap up

There are many reasons for being gassy but they are mostly related to your diet and lifestyle rather than breastfeeding specifically.

All is not lost, with a few simple tweaks, you will probably start feeling less gassy soon.

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