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Newborn and Infant Care

Bulging naval due to gas problem

06/11/2007

Question:

Dear Sir

My 3 months child is suffering from gas problem and due to which her naval is bulging out. What do i do to get her gas problem relieved so that she can get good sleep. I breast feed her and when my milk flow is not good i give her cows milk. Often her stomach gets harder and she finds difficulty in passing stools. I give her gripe water whenever she gets stomach ache. Please help me out.

Answer:

Breastfeeding is the best feeding possible, so I am very happy to hear that you are nursing your baby. Bulging navels are not at all due to gas in the stomach. They are called umbilical (um-bill-i-cul) hernias. They are the product of a larger than normal opening in the abdominal muscles and is a common, inherited difference among babies that seldom results any problems. Very large hernias are repaired early to prevent twisting and death of the small intestines caught in the muscular opening. Smaller ones are watched for their normal closing over time, usually by 5 years of age. Chances are, there are other family members who have this difference as well.

The cause of the stomach gas problems is very likely the cow's milk you are using at times. Children under 12 months of age should not be given cow's milk ever. The milk protein is very large and the cow's milk itself does not contain the nutrition a baby needs. Young babies such as yours do react with gas and fussing to the discomfort of the change in food. Cow's milk can also cause bleeding in the intestines that leads to anemia or low blood iron as well as constipation. The best thing to do is to stop offering cow's milk immediately and work on building up your breastmilk supply so that using another product is unnecessary.

Summer is here and many nursing mothers have a drop in breastmilk supply as they perspire more with the heat. So extra glasses of non-caffeine containing drinks are an important way to maintain your milk supply. Also increase the number of times you nurse your baby. Supply really is the result of demand, so nursing more often will teel your body to make more breastmilk. If you have any  problems at all, contact your local La Leche League office. Their expert breastfeeding specialists are happy to help at no charge.

Finally, gripe water may increase your baby's tummy gas. Babies do not need the fruit sugar. It often causes gas and diarrhea even if it is a naturally occurring substance. It is not in breastmilk or formulas. There is also no evidence at all that gas causes infant fussiness and colic, which is usually gone for 90% of babies who have it by 3 months of age.

Babies take a lot of caring and it can be frustrating finding the solutions to the things that make them uncomfortable. I am confident that increasing your breastmilk supply and eliminating the cow's milk as well as the gripe water will improve your baby's comfort. I hope this information is helpful.

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Response by:

Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN
Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University