My son was diagnosed with colic as a newborn, and it was no easy ride.  I swear it felt like he did nothing but cry for the first three months of his life.  It was hard being told that my baby had colic, and feeling like there was nothing I could do to ease his distress, except to wait for him to grow out of it.

Throughout my time in the Breastfeeders in Australia Facebook support group, I have noticed many parents believe their child has colic.  Sometimes after three or four months, they find that the colic symptoms are not easing the way they expected, and they begin to look for other answers.

Some of the answers that those parents come across are listed below, with links to further information:

  • Is your baby having difficulty adjusting to life outside of the womb? Look into the Fourth Trimester theory
  • If your baby is suffering from excessive vomiting and pain, he may have reflux. Here is some good information on managing reflux for breastfed babies.  An IBCLC can assist you further.  Many families also claim to see a significant reduction in symptoms after seeing a pediatric chiropractor or osteopath
  • If your baby suffering from excessive wind, vomiting, abdominal pain, watery or bloody stools, skin irritation or hives, look into food sensitivities, intolerances or allergies to foods in your diet that may be affecting your baby through your breastmilk.  Keeping a food diary can help you identify problems.  An IBCLC (especially one specialising in dietetics) can help further, as can this really great support group for breastfeeding mums of babies suffering these kinds of issues
  • If your baby is suffering with wind and vomiting, combined with bright green (grass-coloured), explosive and frothy stools, as well as very high weight gains, you may have a lactose overload issue. An IBCLC can help you identify the cause of this issue, and help you manage it
  • If your baby is suffering from a combination of all of the issues above, there may be a physical oral issue that is affecting the way he suckles, swallows and breathes. These types of problems can often go hand in hand with breastfeeding issues and pain for mum.  This Facebook support group can help you find a provider in your area who specialises in these types of issues

There would certainly be more issues than what is included on this list.  It’s a good idea to seek professional support so you can get medical advice that takes your individual circumstances into account.

You may find yourself wondering if these problems would disappear if you stopped breastfeeding completely.  It’s very important to weigh up this decision thoroughly, balancing any perceived benefits with any risks that may be introduced with an alternative.  Personally I found the Alpha Parent’s Timeline of a Breastfed Baby a great motivator to help me get through the rough patches.

It can be physically and mentally exhausting to care for a baby who is difficult to please.  If you feel like you really need a break, talk about it with friends, family and other people who can support you.  Put your hand up and ask for some help.  You don’t need to stop breastfeeding or to get your baby to take a bottle in order to have a rest – there are other options.

Some babies pass this phase of their lives and the crying and unsettledness disappears without intervention too, which is exactly what a parent expects with colic.  But if you feel like there’s something more going on with your baby, it’s well worth exploring other possibilities.  You may not feel confident enough to completely trust your gut instincts, but there is little to lose from seeking help from someone trained and experienced in giving breastfeeding support.  You can’t put a value on peace of mind – it’s priceless.

This information is general, and does not replace the advice of a medical professional.  If you have concerns about the health of your breastfed child I would encourage you to seek the support of an IBCLC.  You can also call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 MUM 2 MUM

 

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5 Comments

  1. I’m a big fan of the fourth trimester theory. “The Happiest Baby on the Block” was my go-to manual for the first six months of my first-borns life and my husband and I re-watched the DVD when I was pregnant with bub 2. Every time I meet a mum who has an unsettled bub, I shared the 5 S’s with them. Without them I’d have lost all sanity!

    1. Yes! My dad told me all about Dr Harvey Karp and I’m glad I looked him up! The 5 S’s were super effective but simple – perfect for a frazzled parent!

  2. Oh, I remember those days! First the intolerance to foremilk (lots of expressing to get to the hind milk – I don’t think it was called lactose overload then, although that makes sense.). Not to mention the projectile poo! And then reflux issues, and then at about two months, colic for a few months (I think – it’s all about). Luckily it only happened with Baby #2 so I felt confident to seek solutions. Great to see more information being made available – really important resource you’re providing.

    1. Oh – btw – I read the article you attached on lactose intolerance out of interest. It doesn’t talk about expressing the first part of your milk, but I found that more effective than feeding on one side for four hours – too much would build up in the other breast and it would become quite painful. This way, we could get to the hind milk with both breasts, much more comfortable for me and satiating for my little girl who didn’t need as frequent feeds. (The midwife in the hospital picked us as her pet project – presented me with a 20 page research report on the topic after she saw the volume of bubbly milk my daughter was bringing back up. A little overwhelming at the time, but it turned out to be really helpful), Of course, not everyone maybe has the trouble if too much milk being produced but if the mother does, she might find this better (although you need to drink even more water – I was so so thirsty all the time – it was a very hot summer to boot!) And now my little one’s nearly nine – time flies!

    2. That’s really great that expressing the foremilk worked for you Helen! You are correct, it’s not mentioned in the link I provided. Current best practice suggests that the oversupply needs to be managed, and expressing exacerbates that problem. While it’s good for the baby, it leaves mama susceptible to engorgement, blocked ducts and mastitis, not to mention the extra workload.

      But it is really great to hear you were able to find solutions to help you through it all! What works for one woman may not be appropriate for another – it’s really uplifting to hear you had someone who could support you through the process

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