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Blog / Digestion, Pediatrics & Teens

A Fussy Newborn, Gas & Feedings: What Infant Abdominal Massage can do for you and your baby

Gas. We all get it, we all pass it, we all try to pretend we don’t have it. When your little one, however, starts to display clear signs of pain and discomfort from gas, it becomes an issue of more immediate importance. Not to mention, precious bonding moments as well as the very small amount of sleep you savor could be hijacked, leaving you and your baby feeling overwhelmed and defeated.

Let’s start with some basics: what causes gas?

It’s important that we have an understanding of what causes gas in infants in order to properly address the issue. Gas can be caused by an increase of air into the abdomen or from the breakdown of undigested food. Some ways that this can happen are:

  • Crying (sucking in too much air)
  • Pacifier (production of air bubbles)
  • Speed in which milk flows (size of nipple and/or shape of bottle)
  • Position of baby’s body when eating (head should be higher than belly)
  • Allergies (Either to ingredients in a formula or to what a nursing mom is eating)

Some signs and symptoms to look out for in order to tell if your baby has gas:

  • Crying
  • Bloating
  • Increase flatulence
  • Hard stomach

What can you do?

There a few different aids that can help assist in the battle against gas; such as, warm baths, burping, dietary changes, purchasing a new bottle and/or nipple, as well as properly positioning your baby’s head.

There is one other, very effective, technique that you can add to your toolbox: abdominal massage. Abdominal massage has been used by many cultures for centuries to address a number issues from reproductive health to digestive concerns such as bloating, constipation, indigestion, and gas.

Abdominal massage can help stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, the “rest and digest” portion of the autonomic nervous system and this aids in peristalsis. Peristalsis is the involuntary action of pushing contents and gas along the digestive tract. The physical action of massaging a baby’s belly also helps to push contents of the digestive tract along and aids in eliminating gas. When your baby has made a full bowel movement, they then have more space to eat more. This makes it so they can experience a more effective feeding by having room to either fully empty the breast (causes increase milk production and access to hind milk), or finish their bottle, leaving your baby more satiated and content.

In conjunction with clearing gas and soothing abdominal discomfort; massaging your baby can also help to promote a tighter bond as well as to provide many benefits associated with your baby’s growth and development.

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