Question of the Day
My baby frowns especially while sleeping and cries when they pass gas. Their bowel movements are normal and they usually don't cry when they have a bowel movement, so it's not like colic. Could this passing of gas be a problem?
First of all, it is normal for newborn babies to pass gas.
Babies pass gas more often than you think. Passing gas or farting is the process of expelling gas from the body. Children naturally swallow air when swallowing breast milk or formula, and when this air builds up, they can passing gas. Passing gas doesn't mean that adults have health problems, and it is the same in young children.
If a child who eats well, sleeps well, and plays well, passes gas several times, there is no need to worry too much. However, if the frequency of passing gas increases and the following symptoms occur at the same time, there may be an imbalance in the milk your baby is consuming that makes it harder to digest.
There may be a milk imbalance for your breastfeeding baby if…
- Their passed gas smells strong and sour.
- Their stool color is light green or green.
- Your baby’s tummy makes a gurgling sound.
- Are there skin rashes around the anus? Have you ever noticed that your child’s growth has slowed and that they are not gaining any weight? If so, these symptoms can lead to suspicion of a milk imbalance.
What is a Milk Imbalance?
Immediately after childbirth, as many of you know, colostrum comes out. Colostrum is a very yellowish milk that is excreted for about 4 to 5 days. After that, breast milk gradually takes on a white color. When you express your breast milk, milk that looks like clear water appears at first, then gradually turns white. At this time, the first milk that comes out with clear water is 'whole milk', and the white milk that appears after that is 'after milk'.
It cannot be simply interpreted something that will just appear after 5 minutes. This is because the time when the whole milk comes out and the time when the after milk starts varies from person to person. Whole milk aids in digestion, and because of its water content, it helps babies to quench their thirst. It contains a large amount of good ingredients such as immune substances, lactose, and antibody substances.
After milk contains more ingredients that strengthen the baby's tummy, such as fat, protein, and carbohydrates, than whole milk. It is responsible for nurturing the baby's body and bones. Both whole milk and after milk are important to the child. You don't have to feed only whole milk, and you don't have to feed only after milk.
After feeding your child with the whole milk in moderation, you need to make sure your baby eats enough after milk so that they can digest well, fill their stomach, and gain height and weight. If your baby sucks frequently for a short period of time, they will only eat whole milk, which will result in green stools or the frequent passing of gas.
What if you suspect an imbalance in the after milk?
If you are breastfeeding immediately after birth, frequent feedings are fine. This is because it is a period in which increasing milk supply should be prioritised. It is okay to breastfeed frequently, changing both breasts. However, from the second week of life, rather than changing breasts and breastfeeding, you need to feed one breast until it is empty and feed the other. That way, the child can fully consume the nutritious after milk.
In terms of time, it is necessary to breastfeed for at least 15 minutes per breast, and if your child is a fast feeder, focus on the feeling of milk coming out of the breast. You will be able to feel the feeling that the milk has run out. If your child passes gas frequently because of a breast milk imbalance, try feeding on one side until the baby has sucked sufficiently.
Don't take 15 minutes as a definite set period for feeding, as everyone is different. Go by what feels right to you. 30 minutes is also fine; let the baby suck on one breast until they want to latch onto the other breast, then breastfeed from the other. This way, the next time you feed, you can put your nipple in your baby's mouth starting from the last 5 minutes of breastfeeding to ensure enough of the after milk is given. If you try this method for more than half a day, your child's bowel movements will be much more comfortable.
In summary, your child's passing of gas is normal, so don't worry. However, if you feel that your child is passing gas frequently due to an imbalance of breast milk, we recommend changing your feeding method and the time for which you breastfeed.
#Parenting advice from Director Hyang-Hwa Kwon
Some babies pass gas a lot because they are not good at burping. It's important to remember that passing gas is part of normal bowel activity. If you hear a clicking sound while your baby is breastfeeding, a lot of air is being introduced. If you try to keep your baby's mouth tighter and make less noise, you can reduce the incidences of passing gas and prevent constipation.
Author: Kwon Hyang-hwa
- Newborn Childcare Coach
- IBCLC International Breastfeeding Specialist
- Worked as the director of a postpartum care center for 10 years.