For parents of a colicky baby, even dinner becomes a marathon, gulped down in the company of indigestion provoking screams, and at this point even the most convincing promises that your baby will grow out of it, don’t offer any consolation to the parents distress. Colic is characterized by incessant bouts of crying which is obviously painful for the baby and highly exhausting to her parents.
A baby who is prone to colic may show signs of onset during the second or third week of life, usually diminishing at around three months. Drawing her legs up towards her body, fists clenched she will scream in apparent agony and continue to do so even when all measures of comfort and reassurance have been taken. The exact cause of colic still remains a mystery, but it is thought to be violent cramp-like spasms which affect the gut, so being undoubtedly painful.
During feeding your baby will be swallowing a fair amount of air, which is usually brought up when your baby burps after a feed, but at times these gas bubbles are not released, and are passed into the bowel where they cause extreme discomfort. However, this is subject to controversy as the theories all differ, with some doctors even suggesting that the nervous, highly-strung mother is to blame, but then again what mother wouldn’t be a walking wreck with a baby who screams for hours on end?
Helping you cope…
Unfortunately there is no known medicine to totally cure colic in infants, but the use of gripe water or those medicines containing bicarbonate of soda may help to break up the gas bubbles in mild cases. You may want to (if you haven’t already) consult your doctor as there are a few mixtures on the market that may just offer some relief.
After approximately every 25ml of her feed or when you change breasts, try and get your baby to expel wind, but don’t fuss for too long as she may only end up ingesting more air, if she starts crying. Also remember to check that the hole in her teat isn’t too large as this could also be the cause of swallowing unwanted air.
Sucking may also offer temporary relief to the colicky baby, and while she apparently seems famished when offered the breast or bottle, she may just aggravate the problem by feeding on top of wind – offer her a dummy instead.
Rhythmic rocking with a warm water-bottle placed over your baby’s abdomen, may also help in calming the situation, as would a warm soothing bath, pacing the floor with her in your arms or a baby carrier or even a drive in the car
Give yourself a break
Dealing with constant crying seven days a week, will no doubt have adverse affects on your health and your marriage, so take time, at least once a week to spend quality time with your husband, family or even alone, making use of family, friends or paid help during this difficult period. (But be sure not to enlist the help of anyone who automatically blames you for the crying – as it’s not your fault.) Guilt often plays a major part when leaving your baby in the care of someone else especially when it seems apparent that he needs you, but one thing is for sure though, that baby will benefit far more from a mother that is well refreshed than one who is constantly at her wits end.
Mothers, especially those still suffering from postnatal depression, may find themselves in the grips of permanent tears, and these feelings of despondency shouldn’t be ignored. Talk to someone, share your story, whether it be with a friend, your doctor or priest, do some crying yourself, it may just prove to be very beneficial.
Exercise is a wonderful way to weather the stress, and joining a gym with childcare facilities, is an ideal way to regain that pre-pregnancy figure and who knows you may even meet up with other mothers in a similar situation.