Saturday, June 29, 2013

Soothing a colicky baby

The most stressful and unnerving part of a baby's fourth trimester (remember the Happiest Baby on the Block?) is colic.

I'm not going to sugar coat it for you.  The first 6-12 weeks off your newborn baby's life are TOUGH!  It's stressful, tiring, frustrating and overwhelming.  You're sore from your birthing experience, your boobs hurt, they leak all the time and your hormones are wracked.  You barely sleep, you never shower and you live in nursing tanks and yoga pants.  On top of all this, you are supposed to take care of this itty bitty little human that the hospital, for some reason, let you bring home! 

So ... back to colic.  What exactly is colic?  People use that term very casually, but it actually has a medical definition.  A baby with colic is defined (according to WebMD) "A healthy, well-fed infant who cries for more than three hours per day, for more than three days per week, for more than three weeks."  Oh, doesn't that just sound peachy? 

Unfortunately, colic is not a well-understood condition. Here's what is known: 

Colic usually starts at about 2 weeks of age in a full-term infant (or later in a premature infant).

Colic almost always goes away by 3 or 4 months of age.

There is no difference in the prevalence of colic for boys and girls, whether you breastfeed or bottle feed, and whether the baby is first born or not.

Scientific studies have shown that children who had colic are no different in terms of personality, mental health, intelligence, etc., than children who never had colic.

Now, whether or not your baby is medically defined as having colic, having a screaming, crying newborn is just no fun.  There are a variety of tactics you can use to try to soothe your baby.  These are what worked for me, I can only hope it works for you too

>> first, go through your list of baby needs.  Is he hungry? Did he burp? Is he wet? Is he hot or cold?

>> give him a couple of Gas Drops.  this will help to break down trapped gas that he is unable to burp up by himself. 

>> next, try to make him burp (again) Colic is typically associated with bowel or intestinal discomfort.  Even if he burped after he ate, try again.  Lay him on his tummy.  The pressure against his stomach well help relieve gas pains.  You can also roll up a small burp rag and place that under his tummy for additional pressure.  Sometimes, laying on his tummy is enough to calm him down. 

>> now that he's burped (or not) give him some Gripe Water.  This is a homeopathic liquid that helps to relieve hiccups and ease digestive discomfort.  It is simply ginger and fennel extracts.

>> strip him down butt naked.  Check all of his fingers, toes and penis for a hair tourniquet.  Give him a quick wash cloth bath, focusing on all his joints, rolls and wrinkles.  Make sure there is no dirt or debris that may be scratching him.

>> DO NOT USE LOTION.  If he has any kind of skin irritation going on, lotion may aggravate him even more.  Grease that baby, from the neck down, with unscented petroleum jelly.  This will soothe his skin (maybe he's just itchy!) and give him that nice, slimy, amniotic feeling that he was so used to.

>> now give him a clean diaper (again) and be sure to use diaper rash cream, just in case.   Put him in some clean, soft jammies or a sleep sack.  Nothing with a waist band, no socks, nothing that may be tight or restricting on his skin or body.

>> White noise.  The womb was an incredibly loud place to live.  Now that he's here, everything seems very quiet to him.  T man's favorite white noise was "Baby Got Colic" available for purchase from any mp3 store.

>> try to feed him again.  By this point it's probably been a while.  He's now clean, slimy and gas free, so it's the perfect time to try and nurse him to sleep.

>> won't eat?  Hold him in the "colic curl" position.  This will apply pressure to his intestines while he's safe and warm in your arms.  This was the only position you could carry T man in for several weeks.  Any other position and he just screamed!  Stand, sway, bounce, walk, rock, do anything that may calm him down.  Once he calms, don't stop!  I've watched entire movies while standing in my living room marching in place like an 80's aerobic instructor.

As scary as all that may sound, it goes by so quickly that you'll find yourself wishing you could do it all again.  Right now! =)  But seriously, no matter how exhausting this time feels, you'll be amazed at how fast those first 3 months just disappear.  Stay calm, breathe deeply and remember.  This will pass!  This is NOT forever.  I promise. =)

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