Can I do GAPS if I’m Breastfeeding?

breastfeeding on gaps txt pic

Can I Do GAPS if I’m Breastfeeding?

  • This is the most common question that I get asked- and the answer is yes!
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:

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

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Comments

  1. Thank you, thank you for this post! I really helped clear things up for me. Now I think I can do GAPS for my family! I really appreciate it.

  2. Thanks for sharing about this, Cara! This is great! :)

  3. So glad you wrote this! I need to go read it. My milk dried up so fast when I tried to do intro. :(

  4. I’m nursing an 18 month old. I started GAPS (full) in February and just recently completed intro. I did have some die-off early on when I started full GAPS but it was mild and only lasted a day or two. I had no die-off (not noticeable, anyway) on intro. I completed it pretty quickly, especially the first 2-3 stages, as I was afraid of losing milk. I didn’t!! My toddler has pretty much been on full GAPS ever since I started. We’re both doing great and he continues to breastfeed beautifully.

    • Thanks for sharing with us Magda! I’m glad you didn’t lose your milk :) I think for a toddler it’s a little less worrisome since they aren’t as tiny and they’re getting nutrition elsewhere as well. I’m so glad you’re doing great!

  5. Thanks for posting this!

  6. Clare, stress can dry up milk too- and intro is a pretty big change so many will find it stressful.

  7. hmm, yes maybe so. DS was suffering from horrible eczema outbreaks and it was terribly stressful. Now that it is under control, I think from just full GAPS, I wonder how intro would be this time around. Thanks for the input.

  8. We started intro with a nursing 14 month old. I was having such terrible digestive symptoms that I felt getting well was urgent, even if it meant a supply decrease or her dealing with some dieoff. We did have about a week of flu symptoms and my husband had to take time off work to help me. My supply dipped pretty badly without nuts and I got very lightheaded, so I only did a day or two without them – other than that I followed intro because I knew I had major candida issues (so didn’t want to do fruit) and we were sensitive to dairy (kefir’s working great now!). I would say if you want to do intro, proceed carefully, pay attention to your body and your baby’s body, and start getting better. :)

  9. Kari via Facebook says:

    Thank you for this post–I shared it on the LLL page I just started for the group I lead. :)

  10. Your stuff is always so incredibly informative! Thank you Cara!

  11. Hey, I am excited about finding this blog! I’ve been eating similarly for about 5+ years. I am curious if you’ve heard of Juice Plus and what do you think about it?

    • I’ve heard of Juice Plus- I have never tried it though and don’t really know much about it. We generally try to eat whole foods, and when we juice we use fresh produce.

  12. I your child is allergic to milk, instead of milk kefir you could try water kefir.

  13. SUCH a helpful post. Thank you, Cara.

  14. Thanks so much for this post….just what i needed. We started GAPS intro a week ago with a nursing 18 mo. old. I will say this, its hard to sneak in extra food without her seeing!!

  15. So it’s probably okay to do intro w/a two year old nursling? I really want to do it w/me and my two and four year old, to get over some allergies/food sensitivities (and heal my leaky gut- which I think is the culprit behind my babies’ food issues in the first place). I think it would be hard to do the full diet without doing the intro first because the allergies are to milk and eggs.

  16. I have a 6 month old daughter who has severe allergies to dairy, eggs, treenuts and peanuts and when we test again later this month I think we’ll also officially add soy and wheat. In the meantime I’ve been told to strictly avoid fish and seafood so reduce the risk these become allergens for her too – do you think doing the Intro or Full will be okay given the above restrictions? I am breastfeeding plus supplementing with Neocate but am working slowly towards rebuilding my supply and getting rid of the formula (which our allergist and dietician both strongly recommended she get ‘hooked’ on!) Thanks.

    • Jennifer H says:

      DId you get an answer? I have the exact same issue!

    • Just a quick question as we are dealing with allergies with my ebf 6 month old ds….Did you have allergy testing to confirm the allergies? I was curious if they test for allergies this early. Thank you! :)

  17. I started on the Intro with my almost 6 month old and planned to add more foods in quickly but due to all the cooking for my family I ended up not really adding much more than the Intro things. I had some die off that did affect my child for a couple of days of diarrhea which was pretty scary. I think the problem was — I added to many ferments as well as probiotics. I started her on the baby introduction to foods with broth, yogurt and carrot juice. This pushed her over the edge. Now I’m a little scared to know where to start her with solids. I think the yogurt will cause her diarrhea. Is it okay to just do the broth without the yogurt and then go on to the veggies mixed with broth? She is also taking the baby probiotic powder. Because of her being very hungry at night she does have a bottle of raw goat milk. She is also taking CLO. Any thoughts would be helpful. THANKS!

  18. Our son just turned 3 and is still nursing. I develoved scleroderma when he was around 6 months old and I have been on GAPS for a little over a year (I have a problem cheating so I expect I will be on it a long time until I get my act together).

  19. Thank you sooo much for sharing your info!!
    I started eating GAPS legal foods beginning of November, started making chicken stock and giving it to my then 11 month old baby-doing baby GAPS w/him. I am curious if what I saw and am continuing to see is die off/detox or something else.
    A few weeks after starting the broth he had what I thought was stomach flu at the time-throwing up, only at night though, peeing a lot, he would soak/leak through his diaper every night for a few nights, he was very clingy and whiny for about a week as well. When giving him the detox baths-ACV or Epsom salts or Baking Soda-we alternate every day, he gets these hive looking spots mostly appearing on his back sometimes on his shoulders and chest. They dissipate after the bath and don’t seem to bother him. I thought maybe it could be he was sensitive to the salts but it happens w/any of the detox baths. I thought it could be related to the quality of our water but we have a chlorine filter and he does not get any spots on his body parts that are fully submerged in the water–so I am thinking it is detox? die off? Again it happens with each bath, so for the past 6-7 weeks. Also I noticed today that after I gave him some fresh pressed carrot juice (and he was having a few bites of banana) he got a hive spot on his chin and one on his chest. Food sensitivity? Die Off? Detox? Please help me trouble shoot! thanks!

  20. My crew and I will be starting GAPS shortly and I have a breastfeeding question. I nurse my 26 month old. He is the main reason we are undertaking this — HE needs the gut healing most of all. I know in GAPS intro all sugars including lactose must be eliminated. My milk has lactose so should he continue nursing?

    I otherwise wouldn’t stop nursing but his food intolerances are escalating so want to stave off any further gut damage and get on with healing him.

    Many thanks.

  21. Jennifer H says:

    I didn’t see an answer to the previous question and I have the same one. My 7 month old daughter has allergies to the “top 8″ eggs, milk , nuts , etc. What am I supposed to eat? When do you reintroduce these? What is the protocol with these allergies in infants when doing GAPS while breastfeeding?

    • Jennifer D says:

      Jennifer H- I hope the following is helpful, and not too overwhelming
      I think if your daughter is allergic to all of those things the only option is to do the Intro diet. Give her as much broth and soup as she’ll take. Be prepared for one very hungry baby!! My 17mo old regularly ate 12oz, 3-5times a day (and she’s only 17.5lb- she’s little). I found that I needed a gallon of soup on hand- so I bought a 20Qt stock pot so I would be able to make large amounts at once. Stage 1 has none of the top allergens. Before moving her on to stage two be sure to do the skin test (you take a little of the egg yolk and put it on her wrist at bed time, make sure she doesn’t rub it off until it’s dry, in the morning check to see if the skin at the sight reacted- if not then give her a tsp or so in stock that day and wait two days to see if she reacts- then proceed) do that with every new food. It’s a lot longer process, but it’s the same process

      Another important question is- does your 7mo old have true allergies or food intolerance? A true food allergy causes anaphylactic shock. Food intolerance can be just as bad for you health, but not as acute a response. The reaction Inside the body, for these two things, is very different! Intolerances to food develop because a leaky gut lining allows food proteins into the bloodstream whole. The digestive system is what’s Supposed to break these down- they’re never meant to reach the blood in whole form. In the blood the body sees these whole proteins as pathogens (viruses and bacteria are proteins that don’t belong in the blood- so if something goes through that’s the only logic your T-cells have to deal with them) hence you immune system attacks the food and then develops anti-bodies to that food. From that point forward your immune system will freak as soon as that food enters your mouth- because just as it would recognize chicken pox germs the 2nd time around, it will also recognize milk… In Anaphylaxis though, there is also a serum response in the blood as well as antibodies. GAPS heals the leaky gut =) so that they whole proteins don’t go through. It may then take her body a little while to get rid of the inappropriate antibodies (hence why even if you’re feeling better you stay on GAPS at least 2yrs)- but :) :) those antibodies Will cycle out of her system! and her gut will be sealed and breaking things down completely. On the other hand :( if it’s anaphylaxis… I don’t know if that will improve. Does she have to have an epi-pen? Does her face swell and her throat close up? or does she get hives, stomach aches, flues, ear infections, etc? The former are anaphylaxis- the latter are food intolerances from a leaky gut. I hope for both your sakes it’s the intolerances. But do know!! Intolerances can lead to dangerous health issues too- such as dis-tonic reactions, parasites, cancers, etc- it’s important to respect all allergies- but in a different way. If it’s intolerances, and she has that many, it’s a strong sign of a leaky gut.

      I know this is long, but I hope it’s helpful. I didn’t go to an allergist till I was 28 and had had a dis-tonic reaction (like a seizure, but your mind is fully awake and you can talk- it’s freaky from the inside, and it finally made me take notice of what I was eating). He explained the above- and he said Most doctors that don’t specialize in allergies and or immunology don’t know the difference between those two reactions, so the general public know even less often- but it helped me understand so much better.

      • Christine says:

        Hi Jennifer D, I realize that this is an old post, but I’m horrified by the amount of misinformation you have provided. Perhaps you have misunderstood your allergist, or perhaps your allergist suffers from MSU (Making Stuff Up), but fully half of what you wrote is incorrect and I would hate for someone to believe that because they don’t suffer an anaphylactic response they therefore do not have a true allergy. It may be the case, but anaphylaxis is not the dividing line between true allergy and intolerance.

        Anaphylaxis is merely a degree of allergic response involving two or more organ systems (skin, GI tract, respiratory tract, cardiovascular, and neurological). That’s all “anaphylaxis” means. Within those systems there are different “grades” of anaphylaxis, ranging from grade 1 (mild, such as localized itching, swelling, welts, hives in the skin organ system) to grade 5 (severe, life-threatening, such as cardiac arrest in the cardiovascular system or loss of consciousness in the neurological system). Severe anaphylaxis is best known as “anaphylactic shock,” which is what most people think of when they hear the term “anaphylaxis.” I know this because I have a child with an anaphylactic allergy (as well as several non-anaphylactic true allergies AND some intolerances). We carry Benadryl and Epi-pens with us wherever we go. It isn’t fun.

        If what was written above is truly what your allergist is telling people, then he is reckless and could kill someone. I would find myself a new allergist who actually comprehends the basics of allergy and anaphylaxis.

  22. I started the GAPS a few weeks ago with a nursing 8 month old – within a week I was unable to get out of bed with full blown adrenal symptoms…terrifying and not cool – my milk supply is still coming back up and my daughter caught a virus – so I wouldn’t recommend it – it’s positively dangerous given how much your body needs whilst breastfeeding…

    • Jennifer D says:

      I agree with Icarus, though not everyone has as severe a response- you may not see it- but it’s hard to maintain all that on your body at once. But I think there’s a lot to know about yourself and your baby too. If, like Jennifer H, your baby can’t eat anything at that point anyway, then I would say the baby should be Intro Diet while the mom is Full. In some cases it may be the other way around. I tried too- and wish I’d just gone Full Diet from the get go, I lost too much weight in way too short a time. Some of it depends on how much the individual baby is nursing. Even though my daughter is 17mo old she still nurses a LOT- especially when we tried the Intro- so for us, no go :( But some babies are only nursing 2-3times a day at her age- and at that point I don’t see why not.

      I wonder, if I do Full GAPS- can I do the Intro when she’s weaned herself? or maybe even when she is just nursing 2-3times a day? I was thinking I might, at that point, rent a pump to keep my supply going, but give her something else for the few days it takes me to get through the intro. My skin could really use it (eczema is driving me batty).

  23. Good post. I would love to do intro but I met with a GAPS certified practitioner and she told me I should not dot he full Intro while my daughter is nursing. She is 22 months and nurses 2x a day and then I am not sure ehow much at night (we cosleep). I really want to do it and the GAPS site says it’s ok with a toddler, but now I am so nervous I will toxins will get into my milk and to her :(

  24. I am currently breastfeeding a new baby and am about to start my family on the GAPS intro diet b/c of severe eczema. I would like to do the intro along with them and am thinking of eating what they eat, plus other full-GAPS snacks to maintain enough calories for nursing. My question is about the die-off. I am confused about whether I can eat all of the intro foods (ferments, juices, etc..) and just not take the biokult? Or are the ferments and things off limits too? I would really like to do as much of the diet as possible as I have terrible eczema too, but I don’t want to risk losing my milk and obviously don’t want to feed my baby toxins either…. I also don’t want to be making a separate meal for myself all the time. Any suggestions?? Thanks!

  25. Hi. I am 5 months pregnant and developed lactose intolerance at two months. I have never had any known problem consuming diary before this, even with two other pregnancies. I am able to have 3 oz of hard cheese per day, but no yogurt – not even raw milk 24 hr fermented yogurt, or milk. I am very confused and frustrated! Any ideas?!

  26. What’s up colleagues, good paragraph and good arguments commented here, I am really enjoying by these.

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  28. My concern is what if I have mercury fillings in my mouth. I’m not nursing or pregnant, although I will want to ttc in about a year or less. I’m sure I’ve got candida in my gut but after doing some research, it seems it’s best to wait to have my mercury fillings removed until after I’m finished having children and nursing (if the person is within childbearing years at least.) Since I cannot have the fillings removed just yet, is it worth doing the GAPS diet for myself? I feel that I need to do something but I also don’t want to distribute the mercury being stored by the candida in my gut to the rest of my organs by killing off the candida. Does that make sense? I’m just not sure what to do.

    • It does make sense, and while I’m not qualified to give medical advice, I’d personally remove the mercury asap even if you were going to TTC in a year. I’ve heard of candida actually being protective of the mercury (preventing it from harming the body), so it’s possible that you wouldn’t be able to successfully rid it until you got rid of the fillings.

      • Thank you for your response. I’m just so torn. What I read regarding waiting to have them removed made sense. That my body could still be releasing the toxins or whatever up to 18mo after they’ve been removed, and if I was to have a baby during that time, that the toxins could essentially pour into the baby prior to birth or breast milk. But it also makes so much sense that no matter how great I eat until they’re removed, it won’t matter as I’ll always have some kind of candida in my gut and it won’t properly heal. I also worry that if I go heavy with the probiotics, they’ll kill most of the candida and release a good portion of mercury to my bloodstream and organs. Anyway, I guess I’m just talking it out at this point. Thanks again, I appreciate your time and really enjoy your blog!

  29. ih i want to ask you how many days the initial stage ?? i mean with all six stage

  30. Our whole family just started Intro GAPS 2 days ago. I am currently tandem nursing my 17 month old and 3 month old. My 17 month old is the reason we are doing this diet. He suffers from severe eczema and extreme food allergies. I am afraid of losing my milk supply and have been eating some fruit. Can you suggest anything else I can add. I can’t add dairy or nuts/seeds as those are just a few of the many foods my 17 month old is allergic to. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you!

  31. danielle says:

    Hello, i want to go on GAPS specifically for my daughter who is 9 months old, breastfed, and has bad eczema. I am nervous to start because currently i am dairy, soy, gluten and nut free. Im seeing that dairy and nuts are inpirtant staples in the diet but my daughter is dairy intolerant and seems to be bothered by almonds.(maybe)
    What do you suggest we do?

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