Finally I'm going to blog about maternal diet and baby digestion. It's something that the mainstream breastfeeding websites don't really talk about too much as they want to encourage women to breastfeed and wouldn't want people not to breastfeed simply because their diet might make a baby gassy.
It shouldn't come as a great surprise that whatever mom eats comes through the breast milk. That's why breastfeeding woman shouldn't drink alcohol or take certain drugs. (In fact breast milk changes colour based on what you eat!)
It also stands to follow that babies need to mature on many fronts, and thus may have an immature digestive system. However, I didn't think about diet for Nikolai fussy/gassy times much beyond avoiding cabbage and cucumber. It took my friend Lindsay to discover that a strict diet of avoiding certain foods would decrease her babies' gassiness and improve their sleeping. She found the benefits of avoiding certain foods (particularly cinnamon and paprika) so powerful that she was still avoiding them in her diet when she came to visit us in Ireland with her 6 month old baby.
Anyways, now I'm going to add my experience to the wealth of "informal" information about diet and crying/colicy babies.
1. The gassy/fussy baby symptoms generally start between 4-10 hours after you ate the suspicious food item. The time it takes for the symptoms to start and how long it takes for the symptoms to pass is different depending on the mother, the baby and the food item. (Uliana is like clockwork, becoming fussy 6-7 hours after I eat a problem food. Except in the case of sulfites... which starts about 4 hours after eating and is out of her system much more quickly then other foods).
2. The digestion issues will slowly resolve as the digestive system matures, but can last past 6 months.
3. Here are the food categories that cause problems (from multiple sources):
Brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc)
Beans (dried beans)
Peppers (green or coloured)
Alliums (onion, garlic, leeks, etc)
Proteins (these are the ones that can cause problems in breastfeeding)
Dairy (most common cause of colic)
Caffeine (small amounts are probably OK, but it takes longer for your baby to break it down)
Spices and spicy foods
Sulfites (they come through breast milk, so I'm avoiding them this time around)
And now for the results of our testing:
I have found that Uliana is very sensitive to most of the items on the protein list. Just a teaspoon of coconut, or one egg seems to be enough to set her off for 24 hours. Uliana's fine with the acidic foods, dairy and spices. Gassy foods set her off if I eat a ton of them. So I'm fine to have chili and tziziki, but humus or leek and potato soup is too much for her.
She also reacts to sulfites. And I was doubly punished this week by buying bread from a local bakery that clearly used sulfites in their products (some bakeries don't buy from scratch, but use pre-made mixes that are treated with sulfites. I've discovered this to be true of ALL grocery store bakeries). It gave Uliana a gassy night, and Nikolai ended up with a big flare up of his allergy symptoms.
Though all this might seem like a big pain in the butt, it is also empowering. With Nikolai I had a child that never slept well and cried throughout the day. If I keep to Uliana's diet, then I have a baby that will regularly give me 5-6 hours of sleep at night and is generally cheerful all day long. If I were feeding her formula I'm sure that she would be reacting to the proteins in the mixture and we would be dealing with a fussy baby.
And now... inspired by my sister-in-law's blog here are portraits of my children from this week.
Not only are Uliana's cheeks big, but her head is too. It was off the charts when the midwife measured her yesterday. She has a great full-faced smile, which always disappears when I pick up a camera.
Nikolai chooses his own clothes and dresses himself everyday. He's always in dress shirts because he won't wear anything else. I call this his "History Professor" look.