For the last few weeks we have had some poop and gas problems with Adalyn that I promised I wouldn’t bore you with, until I realized this is a very real issue other breastfeeding mothers are also struggling with.
At just 3 weeks old Adalyn has had terrible gas that is quite stinky, she’s going poop only about once a week and she is extremely fussy, apparently uncomfortable and not sleeping well. Read more about it in: ”From the trenches at 6 weeks postpartum“.
I entertained thoughts about Addie having a reaction to something in my diet but nothing seemed to be connected. We tried gas drops, gripe water, burping, tummy sleep, swing sleep, bicycle exercises, baby wearing, warm baths, constant holding and non-stop nursing to help and calm her.
When we called the doctor and midwife about the lack of poop we were told as long as she’s gaining weight and wetting diapers it’s not a concern (the lack of poop). They suggested we to try glycerin suppositories, Karo syrup in water or a lubed up rectal thermometer in the anus to stimulate poop (and I also found this advice in many places on the internet)… nothing seemed to work for us (well we didn’t try the suppositories) and I was still quite concerned about the lack of poop.
On occasion a mother will describe notably infrequent newborn stooling when asked. Sometimes it has been overlooked or, using the criteria for older babies, labeled normal. Sometimes, under the advice of family, friends or health workers, this has already been treated as constipation.
During the 1990s mothers have related such treatments as: changes made in the mother’s diet; various supplements for baby including glucose or corn syrup water, fruit juices, or pureed fruits; various types of anal stimulation, anal dilation and enemas of vegetable oil. In cases of infrequent newborn stooling, babies are often known to have or are later found to have poor weight gain. Source LLL Site
Adalyn first went a week between pooping, then 6 days between poops. Her gas pain and the malodorous odor seemed to worsen as the days went on without a poop but on the day she finally did poop each week the gas and fart smells were basically gone for about 24 hours. And she slept, like a peaceful, happy girl. And she also slept for good stretches of time and would go right back to sleep so easily.
These glimpses of her content and pain free time made it impossible to accept that this was just something we would have to wait for her to outgrow. There was no way this was incurable, something was causing it and that cause could somehow be remedied… if we could nail it down.
Breastfeeding is hard and can sometimes be puzzling. This fact alone is why so many are quick to supplement baby with formula.
We are blamed and told something in our diet is upsetting baby, but what? We are told a formula can help with tummy trouble and possible allergic reactions, and sometimes they do… The sticking point is that the number of babies that actually can’t tolerate mom’s milk is actually very, very small.
Additionally, breastfeeding supply issues (not enough milk, too much milk, etc) can almost always be remedied instead of just giving up and switching to formula.
In our haste and desperation we just search for any possible solution for our pained and unhappy babies…
Sadly this results in the end of nursing relationships.
My own breastfeeding struggles and frustrations give me a very real understanding of why some moms give up completely. The huge breastfeeding benefits to mom and baby make the struggles and frustrations something worth enduring, for me (and hopefully to you too). We entertained the idea of a breast milk imbalance, read more about it in “Too much of a good thing: Oversupply & Breastfeeding“.
The Solution? Gut Health & Genetic Factors!
If you are a nursing mom that arrived here looking for the solution to this problem I feel your pain! Nothing I was advised to explore solved the issue for Adalyn at 5 month of age (tongue tie, lip tie block feeding, reflux, enzymes, gas drops, karo syrup, water supplements and more doctors visits). However, I still suspect she probably has a posterior tongue tie (these are impossible to diagnose visually and only skilled/ specially trained practitioners can diagnose by feeling under the tongue) as well as a stretched out lip tie.
Don’t let Dr. Google swamp your brain and overwhelm your instincts like I did. It is oh, so easy to search the web, or ask for advice on social media when your baby is hurting but in doing this you might be setting yourself up for further frustration.
Everyone can speculate and there are seriously an infinite number of reasons for any ailment… the kicker is that each child and situation is different. Take Addie’s pooping for example… She’s gong more often now. Not sure why or what the issue was. Maybe my supply increased to fit her needs and all I needed to do was stop fiddling with remedies and just cuddle up to nurse her on demand.
A plane trip to Arizona forced me to nurse her non-stop and amazingly her pooper started working more. Was it the Kombucha or the altitude change or the stress? Was it my diet or the dry air or the drama? No clue. Will I stop trying to learn more about my own gut health and how that impacts my nursling? Nope. Will I refrain from googling when she has an issue? Probably not and neither will you.
My point is TRUST your instincts and the age old wisdom our bodies already have. We were made to carry, birth and nourish our growing babies. Sometimes all we need to do is slow down and get back to the basics to resolve the issues, rather than over thinking them.
In hindsight- What we learned: Gut Health, Detox Pathways, MTHFR Mutations & Tongue/ Lip Ties
Many have come to me in the last two years seeking advice and information regarding my experiences with my own daughter so here is the update and my thoughts on it: Updated as of Oct 15th, 2013
Gut health & gut function go hand in hand with lip ties and tongue ties. Additionally, lip and tongue ties are often related to the MTHFR genetic mutation that runs in families and impacts a slew of other health related things ranging from midline defects, to digestion, to susceptibility, to other health issues.
Don’t rely on the Dr. (or the internet) to guide or advise you, dive in and read up on it because each case is different and regular Dr’s (& the masses) don’t know much about it right now.
For us, we are gluten free with the celiac genes in the family tree… My youngest has slight autistic characteristics when her digestion and diet isn’t clean of her triggers (gluten, HFCS, high oxalate foods). She also has some potty issues relating to her detoxification pathways when her diet gets wonky. She’s always been small and unable to gain weight per the generic standards for pediatricians and I am super careful with her diet because I know malabsorption is likely for her since her digestion isn’t every really up to par. We also all seem to have gut bacteria imbalances that require constant probiotic foods/ drinks to balance.
She’s got what I think is a lip tie (that stretched enough to allow her to nurse beyond 2 yrs old) and possibly a posterior tongue tie but we’ve not had it revised or even really diagnosed, for failure to find a Dr. when she was a babe and in the throes of her major suffering. I also suspect that I have the celiac genes and that we both have MTHFR mutations. My husband’s sister had a tongue tie that was revised so the mutations may actually be on both sides of the family for us.
When our new baby comes we’ll likely all head to Bloomington, Indiana to see Dr. Matt Rasche for a lip/ tongue tie diagnosis and revision since ties are a “midline defect” common for those with the MTHFR genetic defect that I suspect several of us have.
Updates on Adalyn @ 2 yrs 2 months of age:
She was honestly inconsolable the first 6 mos of life, never slept well, always cried, had to be held 24/7, when she did sleep we noted some major back arching at times and despite swaddling and co-sleeping she’d still wake in fits (more than a normal baby) for unknown reasons. She always spit up and seemed to have gas, seemed to always be hungry, never pooped a normal BF baby poop. Went days between poops… like 6-10 days! Very clingy too.
Her first 3 mos of life I halfheartedly tried removing gluten, nuts & dairy with no clear signs of improvement. From 6-12 mos of life I was fully committed to removing & detoxing (read more about my detox experience here in “It is like I am an addict: Thoughts on body detox with diet changes” from gluten, while working to heal the gut following Jennifer Tow’s gut healing webinar. I asked Jennifer Tow about future gut healing webinars like the one I took with her and she says there is a recording that she can share with those interested. Tell her I sent you and maybe shoot her an email about buying the recorded webinar, you wont be sorry. It’s a LOAD of great info!
As Addie grew and became more independent her tendency to have explosive fits surfaced. She remained very clingy after becoming mobile. Didn’t have interest in crawling or exploring like other babies do, just wanted to be held by me (and usually nursed) at the slightest upset or new situation. Even refused her dad’s holding sometimes. She would get upset over the smallest things and would be impossible to console… crying on the floor, writhing around. Very easily frustrated & upset. She would even get external signs of her internal/ dietary issues… things like dark circles under the eyes, funny dry skin patches, weird foot and hand pimples, cradle cap that would come out of nowhere, etc.Once the gluten finally cleared from her system at about 12 mos of age we could clearly pinpoint it as being the trigger for her.
Now, she doesn’t wake well from impromptu naps without a good 20-45 min, inconsolable crying jag afterward. Doesn’t tolerate most people (other than her immediate family) and hates space invasions from everyone. If she’s having a fit, talking to her, touching her or even looking at her just makes her go longer and harder with the fit.
The crazy thing is her fits and moods eerily coincide with dietary slip ups, almost within 30 min of the slip up and can last about 24-48 hrs afterward depending on her detox pathway speed at the time. Once we figured out what was setting her off diet wise and took steps to remove and detox her from it things got SOOO much better. We also do Bach some individual flower remedies to help in in the throes of fits or during a dietary oops period and she’s doing SO much better.
Gradually she’s getting more outgoing and less clingy, her ability to handle frustration is way improved and once the diet thing got resolved her nutrition seemed to improve. She’s weaned from nursing now and is even toilet trained during the day but helping her to adjust and figuring out what was setting her off was a looooong journey of tons of research and trial/ error. I have no doubt she’d be way worse off if we’d allowed vaccinations since her gut was so of kilter and not functioning as a young baby.
It really is all based in her gut health & the lack therof as a newborn. It’s a balancing game but it can be done, I feel like we’ve done it with Adalyn. She’s not “healed” and neither am I… We’ll both have constant gut microbe imbalances to manage and we’ll both have to avoid gluten forever I think. I know there will be more to learn about our MTHFR & celiac status and how it is impacting our vitamin/ nutrient absorption but for now I’m happy that we’ve arrived at where we are, clearly better off than we were when Adalyn was an infant.
For anyone noticing similar things with their nursling…
- Know that your diet and gut health can impact them while nursing.
- Start multi-strain probiotics for you and baby NOW – if you suspect autisim research D-Lactate free probiotics FIRST!
- Dive in and research tongue ties, lip ties & MTHFR genetic mutations, get testing if you can.
- If you haven’t removed gluten from your/ baby’s diet… do it.
- Support your detox pathways! I take Pascalite in drinking water + nightly epsom salt baths + Natural Calm as needed.
- Take a good multivitamin, research B vitamins & folate as they relate to your possible MTHFR mutation status.
- Trust your gut and don’t be pacified, if you really feel something isn’t right then it is NOT.
More experiences & reading:
- Poop, Gas and Fussing in the Breastfed Baby: It might not be colic.
- Digestion issues in baby could be leaky gut in the breastfeeding mother.
- It is like I am an addict: Thoughts on body detox with diet changes.
- Too much of a good thing: Oversupply & Breastfeeding
- From the trenches at 6 weeks postpartum