All families are at risk of having a baby with colic. It affects 1 in 5 babies less than 3 months old. All babies, even breastfed ones, are at risk of developing colic, no matter their sex, race, or socioeconomic status. While it can be a miserable time for all, all get through it. In order for you to help understand what you can do if your baby has colic, here is everything you need to know about Colic and your Breastfed Baby.
Babies with colic usually grow and gain weight appropriately, however they cry a lot, and it’s a cry unlike the one you are used to hearing to signal hunger or a soiled diaper. They cry intensely for hours at a time, several evenings a week, for several months. The symptoms of colic usually resolve by the time a baby is about 4 months of age but may last until the age of 6 months.
What symptoms might I see?
Extreme fussiness even after crying has diminished. A reddened face with paler skin around the mouth. Body tension, pulled up or stiffened legs and arms, clenched fists or an arched back.
Colicky babies may burp frequently or pass a significant amount of gas, but this is thought to be due to swallowing air while crying, and is not a cause of colic.
What breastfeeding changes should I make?
Is your milk flowing too fast? If your milk is spraying out of the nipple too quickly, causing your baby to become fussy or to cough or choke at the breast you might be having a strong letdown reflex. Gulping and coughing will lead to more swallowed air and your baby may refuse the breast altogether. A side lying or laid back position will allow your baby to let any excess milk flow out with gravity. Expressing for 2-3 minutes before your baby latches on is another way of decreasing the force of the milk spray and allows your baby to get more hindmilk, which has less lactose.
A foremilk-hindmilk imbalance might be making your baby gassy as well. It is so important to allow your baby to drink from one breast until it feels much softer, some would say empty. Your breasts are never completely empty because they are continually producing milk. Don’t limit the time on the breast if your baby is still swallowing and only offer the second breast if your baby has spontaneously detached and won’t latch on the first breast. This will ensure that the baby receives the foremilk and hindmilk, avoiding a double lactose load. The hindmilk will fill a baby more and decrease colic symptoms and explosive stools.
What can I do to comfort my baby?
First and foremost, it’s important to remember that every baby is different. So while some of these suggestions below will help one baby, it may not help your baby or it might help your baby today, but it won’t do anything tomorrow. It’s best to keep positive and try new things to find out what works best for you and your baby. Here are some suggestions to start with:
► Swaddle your baby and then pick her up.
► Walk while holding her in a side lying or stomach lying position on your forearm, avoid placing her on her back while in your arms.
► Gently but purposefully sway or jiggle your baby while making shhhh'ing sounds, as loud as your baby is crying. Decrease your volume as baby calms down. This mimics the sounds she heard in utero, which were pretty loud.
► You can offer your baby a pacifier or your clean finger to suck on.
► Take your infant for a car ride or a walk in a stroller, look for bumpy sidewalks.
► Give your baby a warm bath.
► Rub your baby’s stomach or place her on her tummy for a back rub.
► Try dimming the lights and limiting other visual stimulation.
► Wear your baby tightly against you during the difficult hours.
Your pediatric care provider must be included in the discussion of possible colic symptoms and will examine your baby to make sure other problems are not present that might be causing colic-like symptoms.
Call for an appointment if you notice these warning signs in your baby:
► Not sucking or taking a bottle well
► Drinking less milk than usual
► Vomiting or diarrhea
► Becoming more irritable when held or touched
► Strange sounding cry
► Change in breathing rate or effort
► Being more sleepy or lethargic than usual
Colic is stressful for parents. Research has shown an association between colic and an increased risk of postpartum depression, feelings of guilt, exhaustion, helplessness or anger and ending the breastfeeding in favor of formula.
Take time out if you start to feel frustrated and return when you are calm and ready to soothe your baby. If possible make a plan with a friend or relative to step in on the days when you're beginning to feel overwhelmed. Smart mothers of colicky babies ask for help.
Postpartum Support International has more than 300 Support Coordinators around the world. PSI Volunteer Coordinators provide support, encouragement, and local resources on the phone and through email to postpartum moms, dads, and families. PSI Coordinators help you connect to local providers and groups and to online resources.
http://www.postpartumprogress.com/ppd-support-groups-in-the-u-s-canada These folks can help you find postpartum depression support groups in your state or province. They say, “It doesn’t matter whether you have postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, antenatal depression etc, (we) welcome all moms with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.”
Remember you are not alone. There are many areas of support available to you and your family. Although it may seem long and stressful right now, you will get through it. Stay strong and don’t be afraid to reach out for support.
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