I remember all the details as if it happened just yesterday, although it has been 19 months since first day of colic.
So what is it?
“Colic is uncontrollable crying in an otherwise healthy baby. Your baby is considered colicky if he’s younger than 5 months old and cries for more than three hours in a row on three or more days a week for at least three weeks (phew!). Colic isn’t a disease and won’t cause your baby any long-term harm, but it’s a tough thing to go through for babies and their parents.”*1
What are the symptoms?
- ” Wails are loud, piercing and continuous — baby’s not so much crying as screaming.
- Crying occurs at the same time every day (usually in the late afternoon or early evening).
- Crying seems to occur for no reason (not because baby has a dirty diaper or is hungry or tired).
- Baby pulls up his legs, clenches his hands into tiny fists and tightens his abdominal muscles.
- He closes his eyes, or opens them very wide, furrows his brow, even holds his breath briefly.
- Bowel activity increases, and he may pass gas or spit up.
- He’s very active, even frantic; his face may even turn bright red.
- Baby won’t settle down to sleep or eat, no matter what you try.” *2
It was my son’s eighth day since birth. Things got better by then, I had no engorgement pain and my son learned latching – on easier, with less stress, still had difficulties though.
All these days he had well established routine of taking breastmilk and going asleep for a nap, then second time he was awake for a while then had a nap again, by shifting all over.
However on this day’s afternoon, around 2p.m. he just kept on crying, it was a strong cry, different for the usual messages of breast or nappy change demands. He sounded like he had unbearable pain. I changed the nappy, swayed for a while, hugged and kissed, sang songs, rocked a slight – none of these could stop him crying for a second. I couldn’t understand the reason as I had no idea on what is going on with him. I panicked. Tears rolled down my face. I called my husband, but couldn’t say a word. I kept on crying along with my son over the phone. My husband got scared (now I understand into what levels) and left the office immediately. On the way home he called back, I was calm enough to reply him after offering my breast to my little angel. Explained all that happened. We rushed to hospital and waited for long for walk in. In between we had those strikes over again, several times, nonstop, unless I offer my breast. It kept on starting after 15 minutes he’d fallen asleep with my breast. My husband panicked too. We flashed the whole day and yesterday on our minds and searched for any mistake we’ve done that may be hurting him now. We remembered that nothing wrong at all happened since birth, he didn’t fall, he had his routine, we have anti-bug mattress and all, so what happened? The only change was in his “meal” demand lately (last two days) which became every 45 – 60 minutes. Eventually we entered the room of a doctor, the same doctor who checked us on last day at hospital for discharge. Just to mention it that he is familiar with our son’s health and conditions. He carefully listened the entire story of our “tragedy”, observed our son: checked his ears, throat, nose and eyes while he’d been crying out his lungs. Doctor turned red and asked “Has he been so loud since birth?” we explained that he is always loud but this horror cry had started today. He went back to his seat, asked us to join, and simply said “Your son is absolutely healthy, he just has colic. Nobody can explain the reason, no way to stop, we can only help reducing it” and given the below advises:
- Avoid caffeine: coffee, tea, gas/soda drinks (I haven’t had gas/soda drinks since I got pregnant, but had coffee every morning and tea every evening.
- Avoid nuts and gas (in stomach) making products: nuts, lentil, potato, starches.
- “Pediacol” syrup.
(picture from internet)
Exclusive to me and my son advises:
These advises given by doctor individually, vary from one another depending on mother and baby habits, baby’s weight and height and many other factors. Please don’t follow these advises after reading my post.
- Breastfeed for 30 minutes only, (my son used to have each breast for 40-45 minutes one after other and this was his 1 meal, total of 1 hour 40 minutes)
- 2-3 hours should pass between “meals”, not on demand (his demand was every hour)
The reason he advised me so, it is because my son was born big and had very high sucking reflex, he kept on asking for breasts not because he was hungry, because of the sucking reflex, also mostly big babies don’t know their limit. One more reason is that babies feel relaxed with breasts on arms of mommy with her heartbeats, when they are in pain. All these combined caused my son to be on my breasts for 24/7. He gets soothed with my breasts and feels relief from colic (only during the session). On the other hand this triggers the colic more. The round clock starts in here. To understand why I used the round a clock term, you need to understand what causes the colic:
“What Causes Colic?
Colic’s exact cause is unknown, and that’s why there’s not a clear way to help it. Some theories of what’s behind it include:
- A growing digestive system with muscles that often spasm
- Overfeeding (My son kept on “eating” to let the digestive system grow faster that cause more spasms) *3
- Hormones that cause stomach pain or a fussy mood
- Oversensitivity or overstimulation by light, noise, etc.
- A moody baby
- A still-developing nervous system” *3
Next few days we followed general advises of a doctor and worked on bringing down the breastfeeding session time and longing the between “meals” time. It was not easy. My son didn’t agree on it, so I made researches and followed the below steps taken from different good websites:
- Decreased the breastfeeding session time by 5 – 10 minutes every 2-3 days. In two weeks I succeeded to 40-45 minutes session for one meal. Couldn’t go beyond this. (as doctor advised)
- When I started decreasing the session times my son stopped falling asleep for a nap. So I started light rocking after the meal to make him fall asleep.
- I did the opposite for increasing the time period in between the sessions. He used to cry at exactly after an hour of last meal, I used to carry him for 10 minutes by singing the nursery rhymes (helped a lot for soothing him) every 1-2 days added 10 minutes more. We never reached 3 hours break between meals during the day till age of 6 months (all babies increase the break between meals time by this age though). (as doctor advised)
- I started light swaddling and felt it helped a bit
- I started the clock wise massage of his tummy
- I started the bike ride movement of his legs.
- I used to put him on his tummy on my lap and rub his back
- My husband found the best solution: to carry him facing the world with one hand on tummy another hand catching his legs. You can see the picture to understand it. This didn’t work with me; it mostly works when parent has huge hands.
9. The times I felt super exhausted, I kept him on me, as in picture, so I could rest a bit. (Please note, this is on my own risk I am a very light sleeper, I am just sharing my experience, please don’t repeat.)
These are the things that relived my son from excessive crying during the pick of colic. Please remember, it is not that you follow those instructions and magically your baby has no colic, those only reduce the time and pain of colic. Also, you have to keep on trying everything (mentioned above), as one day swaddling may help and next day it won’t so you try rocking, third day you try something else, forth day you try all in combination, fifth day nothing at all may help. You know from baby’s cry it is helping or not to reduce the pain. You may find more options online to find suitable for your baby. As different things help different babies.
One more visit to doctor with the same complain and new advises:
I felt that he got gases after two weeks or so and made an appointment with other pediatric doctor I feel comfortable with. He advised the followings:
- Put him to sleep on a tummy (Please understand this was advised individually to my son, because he checked him and made sure he was able to turn his head to sides while sleeping. Please don’t try it without advice from your pediatric doctor observing your baby from birth. Researches show that sleeping on a tummy may lead to SIDS). I started doing it only during day time naps as I could watch him, night time sleep I started with putting him on his right side, later on I moved to tummy sleep at night too.
2. He advised to stop “Pediacol” as it is sweet of it, that caused gases and use “Bonnisan” instead, which is also a syrup. He also advised to try Arab folk method of giving rose water (baking purpose). I tried both and those helped a lot.
(pictures from internet)
3. All the other advises were the same as I mentioned above (I’ve got from different websites)
How long did it take?
We struggled from colic until 6 months old. Of course it reduced month by month, but I feel we had it for long. Usually babies struggle till 3-4 months old only. First month we had it every day any time, several times a day and night. Till 3 months we had it every day from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and sometimes (let’s say every other day) at night from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. Till 5 months old we had day time colic several days a week (if I stop the treatments in combination as mentioned above) and night time colic most of the nights. Till 6 months we had it occasionally (whenever I stopped the treatments in combination as mentioned above).
- Please remember colic is not a sickness, most of the babies have it, the only way of helping your baby is to reduce the pain and “attacks”
- Most of the mothers or grandmothers get a wrong idea seeing the baby crying all day long. They believe that breast milk is not enough (because baby falls asleep with breast and cries after 15 minutes) and start offering the formula at night. This will lead to decrease of milk supply, on the other hand to early stop of breastfeeding. Please don’t offer formula, all babies get enough milk from mothers, God created us in a way to survive, so supply covers the demand. I can prove you with my experience, till 6 months I could easily pump 280 ml from one breast and 220 ml from other, when my son could have only 180 ml at once. So I had more than enough milk in terms of quantity.
- Other mothers or grandmothers think that the quality of milk is very bad, that’s why baby gets frustrated. So they also offer formula by fully stopping breastfeeding. This might cause breast problems to mother. Believe me it is not about the quality at all. There is no quality measurement for mother’s breast milk. Mother’s milk is the best for baby!
*4 please understand this in only in our case, only doctor can assume probable reason from the details of baby’s routine and observing the baby
All images © 2014 Dubaimommyzjourney