breastfeeding on gaps pic- a young woman nursing a newborn while a toddler looks

Can I Do GAPS if I’m Breastfeeding?

This question comes up nearly every time I write about GAPS – so all the time!

For the pregnant or breastfeeding mother, Dr. Natasha, author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome, recommends the Full GAPS diet, which includes fruit, cultured dairy, nuts, and coconut products in addition to everything allowed on the GAPS Intro.  The reason for starting with the full GAPS diet is to limit the amount of die off you have.

What is die off?
Die off is what happens when pathogenic organisms in your intestinal tract die and release toxins into your blood stream as they do so.  This is the goal of the SCD/GAPS diet, to re-balance the gut flora so it is healthy, but in doing we don’t want to put any extra toxins into the nursing baby’s system- that’s why it’s best to go slow while breastfeeding, especially a very young baby. The GAPS intro causes many people to have lots of die off because it is an intense diet that quickly starves out ‘the bad guys’.
Die off affects different people differently, in our family it has never been much of an issue but it knocks other people out in what Donna Gates, author of The Body Ecology Diet, calls a Healing Crisis which is much like the full blown flu!  Even if mom doesn’t ‘feel’ much die off, it’s still best to go very slowly because it may affect the infant more than it does her.
We don’t want a breastfeeding infant to be exposed to these extra toxins in the mother’s blood stream, so it is important for mom to really control her die off.  Epsom salt baths can help the body detoxify as well and are part of the GAPS protocol.
Foods that commonly trigger die offs and should be introduced slowly into a nursing mom’s diet:
  • Cultured/fermented foods
  • Coconut products
  • Probiotics
  • Fresh Pressed juices
The Full GAPS Diet
The full GAPS diet is a very healthy diet that eliminates all grains and starches. A nursing mom often has a hard time keeping her calorie intake up enough (I know that by the time both my babies were 9 months old I was starving.all.the.time!) so the fresh fruit and cultured dairy will help.  The full GAPS diet allows nuts, ripe fruit, meat, veggies, eggs, seeds, aged cheeses, dairy kefir, and coconut.  For the full list of allowed food see the Gut and Psychology Syndrome Book.
Meal/snack suggestions for the nursing mom:
  • Apples and peanutbutter or other nut butter
  • Jerky
  • Yogurt with berries and/or coconut
  • Savory yogurt with avocado, dill, and cubed meat
  • Dried fruit
  • Smoothies made with yogurt, frozen fruit, and a couple tablespoons of coconut oil blended in (buy healthy coconut oil here)
  • Cheese and grain free crackers

What if the rest of the family needs Intro?

It seems to me that so many of you nursing moms want to add one more thing to your full full plate! I generally encourage moms to focus on the breastfeeding relationship for the full first year of the baby’s life, or until they have started to go longer between nursing and are starting a bit of solid food. But really, mamas, for the newborn period please try to relax and enjoy the baby if at all possible!

The GAPS introduction diet is a lot of cooking, cleaning, and feeding.  I have tried to help the best I can by making the 30 days on GAPS Intro Ebook, but it still is a lot of cooking!

That said, in some cases it is best for the family to start the GAPS intro while mom is exclusively breastfeeding the baby.  Maybe there is a sibling with autism or hyperactivity that could greatly benefit from the diet and make the baby’s newborn period much more calm, or another family member’s daily life is being affected by a GAPS condition.

In that case, I would recommend that mom eat the intro foods with the family, but add in some extras like cooked fruit and nutbutters or smoothies for easy calories.  This can be done in a couple snacks a day- perhaps a smoothie mid morning and some apple sauce and a handful of nuts after the kids go to bed in the evening.

I personally feel it’s too much work for you to be cooking two separate meals, and it would be hard on the kids if you were snacking on food that they couldn’t have all throughout the day.

What if my baby is allergic to dairy/nuts/fruit/etc?

If you’re already basically limited to the GAPS intro foods by your or your little one’s food allergies, you may have no choice but to just go ahead and go on.  You can still be very careful to reduce die off as much as possible, even putting off probiotics completely until the baby is eating more solids and very gradually introducing cultured veggies.  Epsom salt baths should help with detoxifying, and drinking lots of gelatinous broth should help heal your gut quickly and provide your baby with much needed amino acids.

I hope this has helped answer some questions about GAPS and breastfeeding!

I have done the GAPS intro twice while breastfeeding- I did intro while nursing a toddler (he was 2 and was on intro too) and it wasn’t an issue at all. I did a ‘modified’ intro when he was 11 months old and still pretty much exclusively breastfeeding (I added cooked apples and coconut oil after a couple days).
I’d love to hear your experience, have you done GAPS while breastfeeding?

This is all just opinion and not intended as medical advice. I have no credentials, and am just a mom myself! Please check with your healthcare provider for your and your nursling’s specific needs.

Resources:
Where to find the Gut and Psychology Syndrome Book
Meal Plans for the Full GAPS Diet (which includes nuts, optional cultured dairy, and fruits)
What Can I Eat Now? 30 Days on the GAPS Intro Handbook
Starting Solids with a GAPS baby or in a GAPS Family