Did You Know Breastfeeding Has a Direct Effect on Your Infant’s and Your Digestion?
Some new moms mistakenly blame inadequate milk supply for nursing problems that affect their baby’s digestion. It should come as a relief to discover there could be many reasons for your infant’s gassy stomach, indigestion, and problems assimilating the nutritional benefits of breastmilk.
Getting the Latching Right
If your baby isn’t getting a good latch, she won’t be able to properly suck or swallow. Holding her correctly and you being in a comfortable position are the first important steps. Bring her to you rather than leaning down to avoid strain on your neck and shoulder.
When the baby is not properly latched, it is easy for the baby to be swallowing air in addition to milk. This can apply to babies feeding directly from the breast or from a bottle. If too much air is being swallowed from not having a proper latch, suck or swallow, your infant could develop colic or digestive problems. Both of you need to feel comfortable.
Enzymes and Protein That Improve Digestion
Infants are born with immature digestive systems and their gastrointestinal tract doesn’t produce all of the same digestive enzymes that are in older children and adults. But breastmilk contains certain enzymes that make it more digestible than infant formula. The protein in breast milk are softer curds that get digested quicker than cow’s or goat’s milk: about 1-1/2 hours for breast milk compared to about 3 to 4 hours for infant formula.
The protein in your milk also gets almost completely absorbed by your baby compared to just half the protein in formula – the rest passing through as waste. This causes formula-fed babies to produce larger, firmer stools, which could cause bowel movement problems. Breastmilk is also a natural laxative so it reduces the risk of constipation.
Breastmilk has built-in immune fighters for illness and allergies. It contains many immunological, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory agents that protect against infection. With each feeding, your baby gets a dose of those immune boosters.
Breast milk also contains a high percentage of macrophages. These are cells that kill bacteria, fungi, and viruses. So breastfed babies have much fewer incidents of respiratory and gastrointestinal illness, urinary tract infections, diarrhea, and ear infections.
The nipple stimulates a baby’s palate, triggering the sucking reflex and tongue and jaw movement, which in turn makes your milk flow. Your baby controls the flow of milk instead of you controlling it from a bottle. A bottle-fed baby tends to overfeed because of the lack of control over the sucking reflex and flow of milk.
Prepares Baby for Good Bacteria and Solid Food
Good bacteria in baby’s gut is extremely important, as it is for all ages. All the different microbes in the gut affect health and disease. Imbalances in intestinal flora can lead to asthma, allergies, diabetes, obesity, and inflammatory bowel disease. Breastfeeding supplies infants with probiotics and prebiotics that help grow those good microbes.
Your baby’s diet early in life will highly influence their ability to process solid foods when the time comes. Researchers from the UNC School found that out in a study. Babies on a diet of only breast milk were more ready for solid foods due to the beneficial microbes in their intestines and those babies not exclusively breastfed had more stomach aches and colic.
Mom’s Gassy Stomach
Breastfeeding does have some downsides, but they’re easy to control. Moms, be aware of:
- Using certain types of supplements to increase your milk supply can create flatulence in you.
- Fiber. Too many fruits such as pears, plums and prunes; vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower; legumes; and whole grains such as oats and barley, can cause gas build-up. It’s how your digestive system responds to fiber. You can pass on those gas attacks when you’re nursing after eating those foods. So if you’re trying to move to a healthier diet that includes fiber, increase your intake slowly and drink lots of water.
- Take A Digestive Enzyme. Some women find that if they consume a digestive enzyme with their meals, that their babies will seem less agitated. This is due to the digestive enzymes capability to break down larger protein molecules in the mother’s system which in turn helps baby’s ability to digest further.
Schedule a Visit
Gentle touches to joints on your head, spine, and pelvis (called Craniosacral Therapy) in chiropractic sessions for prenatal women and new mothers and their babies can help with structural alignments that relieve pain and stress. These can set the stage for effective breastfeeding.
Call Dr. Michelle Parker at The Chiropractic Place For Mommy and Me today to set up an appointment. Prepare for a worry-free breastfeeding experience with your new baby and avoid discomfort and tummy upsets with Dr. Parker’s expert therapy and guidance.
Dr. Parker also hosts a free breastfeeding support group that meets the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of every month with local IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) and breastfeeding advocates.
Dr. Parker has special training as a pediatric chiropractor certified through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association and is the only chiropractor with this certification in Parker County. Located in Aledo, Texas in East Parker County, Dr. Parker serves moms and their children in Tarrant, Parker, Erath, Palo Pinto, Hood, Wise, Denton, Dallas and Johnson counties.