Breastfeeding and Colic Remedies
Any parent who has gone through the experience of a colicky baby will know how thoroughly unpleasant, stressful and tiring it can be. A baby with colic will wrench our heart strings and frazzle our nerves. Babies cry for many reasons, and as parents we seek to find out the reason and put things right. A baby may be hungry or need changing; may be over tired or simply want some comfort. A baby with colic cannot be consoled, and often will cry for hours on end.
Does My Baby Have Colic?
Typically colic displays some patterns which a carer can notice. Colic usually starts within the 3 to 6 week period, will last several weeks, often have a sudden onset, and will have gone by 3 months. A baby with colic will have long periods of crying, often for hours and will be near to impossible to console. Many babies will have daily episodes, usually starting around the same time every day, typically in the evening- the so called witching hour.
Babies with colic will often want to breastfeed for comfort during a colic episode, often resulting in overly full tummies, which can exacerbate the situation.
The reasons for colic are poorly understood, it is estimated that between 10-15% of all babies develop colic, but no full explanation has been found. One thing is known: the stress and difficulty it causes to parents.
Boys and girls suffer equally, and although distressing, does not cause lasting damage.
There are a number of ways that a baby can be helped during episodes of colic.
Firstly when feeding a baby, let the baby fully finish at one breast before switching to the second breast. There is no hard and fast rule, but milk at the beginning of a feed is high in lactose, which can cause explosive and greenish stools. Towards the end of the feed the milk becomes richer, higher in fat and is easier to digest. So when feeding allow your baby to feed as long as he wants at one breast, even if this means you are only offering one breast at that feed. Next feed start off with the other breast.
Some babies are very sensitive to dairy proteins, some Mums have found eliminating dairy from their own diet can help alleviate symptoms in baby.
- There are a number of ways that we can try to soothe a colicky baby. Generally most babies will prefer an upright position during an episode, lying on the tummy can soothe too. Lying on the back seems to be the position that is least helpful.
- Babies seem to be helped by motion, so carrying a baby upright against the shoulder and walking can be helpful- some parents will adopt this pacing approach for hours on end.
- Gentle tummy massage may help, as can filling a basin with warm water to wash a baby's feet- although this may be more of a distraction than anything else, but can work at least for a short while.
- Going outside for a walk in a pram, or even a drive in a care, a change of scene can lessen crying.
- Music, or sounds of some kind, even a washing machine
There are a number of over the counter remedies that may work for some babies, even if only a short while
- dimethicone or simethicone can help ease trapped wind
- gripe water
- chamomilla granules a homeopathic remedy given to baby directly
- colosynth again a homeopathic remedy given to baby
- Vitamin B12 cyanocolbalamin aup to 150 microgrammes a day, taken by the breastfeeding mother
Light at the end of the Tunnel
A final word, many parents are using craniosacral therapy as a relief for colic, a very gentle massage technique which helps relax the baby, it is a very useful technique.
Colic is a trauma for all involved, but it pays to remember that however distressing it seems a baby will suffer no ill effects, and colic can disappear quickly, after weeks of distress one day it can simply vanish. It does not last forever.