Before I had my baby girl, I had heard of colic, reflux and wind (I didn’t know the differences).
The general gist was they would all mean more hassle and less sleep for Parents.
I took in very little on the colic/reflux/wind discussion during antenatal classes because I figured that it was something that happened to ‘other’ babies. Apparently, if you haven’t seen an issue first hand in your friends or family’s babies, you may not recognise it as a possibility for you.
That’s pretty much what happened for me.
What is colic?
Colic is excessive crying in babies who are generally not sick. And this part is key: even medical experts do not understand colic fully, yet. I experienced this first hand. After explaining the symptoms we had with my baby, Doctors would give us a look, and explain in a polite, sensible tone: ‘there is not much I can tell you or do for you’.
Ah! It frustrated me, because when you go to a doctor about your little child who you are powerless to help, you hope the Doctor walks in like a hero, does his/her thing and makes everything OK. Instantly. Hearing the words ‘normal’ and ‘fairly common’, made me take quite a few deep breathes. It really didn’t feel normal to see my baby cry, in what, to me, looked like pain.
A specialist Doctor we saw joked that colicky babies were a form of contraception: ‘you won’t be in a hurry for the next baby’, he predicted. It was a funny joke, but at the time I could not laugh. My baby wanted me to hold her all through the day and sometimes all through the night too. She cried in sleep and stretched and curled and winced in hat looked like pain to me. There was nothing funny about the sleep deprivation and watching her go through that!
Is it colic your baby has?
You may not know with hundred percent certainty.
Webmd says symptoms may look like this:
a. Loud crying lasting three hours or more for three or more days a week, over a period of more than three weeks.
b. Prolonged crying between 6 pm and midnight in a baby that has been fed.
c. While crying, the baby draws his legs to his abdomen and clenches his hands and curls his toes; his face alternately flushes and pales with the effort of crying.
d. Baby may pass wind.
Causes of colic
They also list some possible causes of colic, based on different theories out there:
a. Tummy trouble, perhaps a problem with the cow’s milk protein or lactose in some baby formulas
b. Reflux — heartburn due to stomach acid and milk flowing back into the windpipe
c. A growing digestive system with muscles that often spasm
e. Hormones that cause stomachaches or a fussy mood
f. Oversensitivity or over-stimulated by light, noise, etc.
g. A moody baby
h. A still-developing nervous system
My baby was described as a ‘colicky’ baby
She did not have the prolonged crying episodes, and the timing of her discomforts was several points through the day. Please know that colic does not just mean that your baby cries for hours in the evenings. It can be crying at different times and what looks like discomfort. It could also be a sign of a medical ailment – more of that below.
15 colic-relief techniques to try
A combination of these techniques may help:
1. Tummy massage with sunflower oil- there are several baby massage vides on youtube
2. Bicycle legs – you move baby’s legs in a cycling motion
3. Gently push your baby’s knees towards their tummy if it feels like they need assistance passing wind
4. Warm bath – have baby sit safely inside the water in a bucket or bath (you may have to hold them), not just pouring it over baby.
5. Wear your baby in a sling or wrapper. Preferably an ergonomic carrier (one that has a firmas opposed to a wrap sling) if you think they are showing signs of reflux
6. Have your baby sitting upright during feeds
7. Hold your baby upright over your shoulders or resting on your tummy with a straight back, for 15- 30minutes after a feed, if they show signs of reflux or tend to wake themselves up after you put them down
8. Consider one or two sessions of Cranial Osteopathy, if your in a city that offers them.
9. Try a dairy free diet (and if you can, soya free too)
10. Try eliminating other foods which you thing could be the cause
11. Try infacol (per instructions, if your child is within age specified)
12. Try gripe water (per instructions, if your child is within age specified)
13. Ask your Doctor about Colief drops
14. Support – get as much help from family, friends as you can, even if it’s just watching the baby so you get an hour to yourself
15. My Mum said ‘trust your instincts’, and that was re-assuring to hear. If you feel something is not quite right, do not hesitate to go see your Doctor (and maybe get a second opinion) explaining your concerns. If you’re in the UK, go back to your GP and ask for a referral to a Gastroenteritis Peadetrician, if you’re not satisfied with your GP’s responses. Yes it may be worth it.
What we tried
The first thing I did was try to cut out dairy. Hm that was tough, I realised milk is in everything. Finding some great dairy free substitutes was the next step and there are options for: butter, milk and even ice-cream, but this was in the UK. Don’t know how lucky one would be in Lagos.
I also introduced the bicycle legs, tummy massage and we already had warm baths as part of our night-time routine. I then saw a doctor who encouraged me to keep those up and try some of the other techniques below too.
Another tip which was recommended online, was to keep a diary of your baby’s symptoms, (though I had very little success with consistency on this one) or a food diary if you suspect it’s something you’re eating.
You could also try recording your baby during a colic ‘episode’ and showing that to your doctor. The episodes could be excessive crying (though that one is pretty self explanatory), but could also be straining, vomiting, grunting, or crying while passing wind. The episode, in my opinion is what your baby is going through that looks painful or keeps them awake.
Our relief came
Eventually we saw a Doctor who did help. Yes, we got a medical diagnosis after a scan by one specialist who then sent us to another specialist. The scan of my baby’s stomach revealed that perhaps there was more to the discomfort that just ‘colic’. The second specialist agreed and prescribed a certain procedure. I’m not prepared to go into it online, but if you have specific questions relating to your experience, you are welcome to email me directly. But as I said it was a scan of her stomach by the Gastro Dr that revealed the problem. Once we got medical help it meant a big relief for baby and us. It was not instant, but it got better and better.
My biggest piece of advice for anyone going through colic
So, the one thing I would suggest is to ask all your questions to the Doctor, even if you think they sound stupid and go back if you feel things are not getting better, after you’ve tried the techniques offered. No medical person ever made us feel bad and if your child needs medical help, you owe it to them to try to find a solution and make them feel better if you can.
Mums, did you experience colic or reflux or wind with your baby? To the point where you worried all the time? Please share your experience below. There are Mums in the same position as you and your words may be just what they need to hear.