Colic. Oh isn’t it fun? Watching your baby scream in pain while trying desperately to soothe them and calm them down. Depending on where you read it, approx 20-30% of babies have Colic. Yet both of my babies seem to be affected by it. I wrote a post a while back called Coping with Colic, and that is all well and good but when you’re going through it you can’t help but wonder if it is somehow your fault. Is there anything you can do to stop it? Or at least I do anyway.
Now Colic in itself isn’t preventable or caused by anything other than an immature digestive system causing spasms and pain. But the term Colic is often broadly used to cover anything with similar symptoms. The arching of the back, scrunching of fists, raising of legs, screaming in pain. It isn’t always necessarily Colic but the overuse of the term can be why some parents struggle to have their baby correctly diagnosed with conditions such as reflux.
I even read an article on babycentre recently which suggested that in many cases it isn’t Colic and that its just a stage of crying that babies go through. That though they look like they are in pain, they aren’t. I am no Dr or Scientist but I am a Mother who has now watched two babies screaming in pain, and watched their obvious relief when eventually pooing or passing wind. I cannot believe that their pain is not real.
I have wondered if something I am doing is causing the Colic like symptoms. It may be that there is nothing I can do beyond cope with it for the next few months, as we did with Monkey. But I do like to find a solution to a problem and I guess for my own sanity I have to try.
I have thought about whether something I am eating is affecting Little Miss. I have read that milk proteins in dairy can be difficult for babies to digest so I have stopped my morning bowl of cereal. But how far do I go? Do I cut out all forms of dairy? Including chocolate?? I’m not sure I can!! Plus it takes a few weeks for the proteins to fully leave my system apparently so it would be difficult to see any affect on her. I have also read that gassy foods (beans, eggs, broccoli etc.) can cause baby to be gassy, do I cut those out? What about spicy food? Could that be affecting her? As one article I read put it, you have to be careful otherwise you find you are eating a diet of plain boiled rice. Not particularly nutritious for either of us!
Further reading and thought led me to consider my milk supply. I seem to have a slightly crazy and forceful supply of milk. In the early days of feeding Monkey I had to express and I wondered if that had some how amped up my supply. But I haven’t expressed at all yet with Little Miss so it can’t just be that. I mentioned it to my Mum yesterday and it turns out she had the same problems and all 3 of us (my brothers and I) were Colicky. So maybe there is something in this.
What do I mean about a crazy supply? Well, I have heard let down being described as a tingly feeling or like pins and needles, but for me its more of a searing pain. Then the actual let down of milk is very forceful, and actually sprays out of my nipple. If I am lying back I literally have a small fountain of milk and I’m not exaggerating. When I am sat up it shoots out and if baby is near it often spurts her in the face. I have to tuck towels, Muslins, bibs, anything really into the bottom of my bra during feeds to catch the excess milk, and even then I very often end up soaking my bra and clothes.
The problem with this is that it sort of drowns Little Miss. She pulls back coughing and spluttering a few times each feed and she swallows a lot of air the rest of the time. This could be causing the wind problems and colicky symptoms. It’s horrible to think that my milk supply could be causing these problems. Causing Little Miss pain, and stopping her sleep. Causing worry and stress for hubs and I and adding to our sleep deprivation. Giving Monkey tired and unhappy parents, making him stressed or anxious.
So what do I do about it? Do I give up breastfeeding and move to formula? Do I try to express my milk and feed Little Miss breast milk from a bottle? Maybe. I don’t know yet. I am trying some of the other suggestions first, but if things don’t improve I may try to express, though I know how exhausting that can be. Although I don’t want to move to formula yet, I am preparing myself that this may be the best thing for the whole family in this situation…. but though I know it isn’t rational, I can’t help feeling I will be failing her if we go down that route. I don’t think there is anything wrong with formula but I can’t help I how I feel.
First though there are other things I can try. I need to feed lying down to see if gravity can help prevent Little Miss from being drowned by the flow. I need to take her off the breast at the initial letdown and let the flow slow down a little ( not that she is a fan of waiting at that point) and I am trying to reduce my supply. I have been feeding from one breast at a time to try and make sure she gets to the fatty hind-milk, as I remember from last time that fore-milk can make Colic worse, but now I need to go one step further.
So I am following suggestions for reducing the supply, which is feeding from one breast for a few hours then doing the same on the other side. To try and teach my body to produce less milk. I have to be careful I don’t end up with blocked ducts or mastitis, or that I reduce my supply too much. But I have to try. I ave to try and help Little Miss feed easier, which will hopefully reduce her colicky symptoms.
If it doesn’t work then expressing or formula may be the answer… we will just have to wait and see for a bit I guess!
Anyone else feel responisble for a colicky baby? What did you do about it?