The Colic Monster & Probiotics
The Witching Hour Ugh! Colic! Any mom who's ever had a baby with colic or tummy issues knows how difficult it can be. The worst part is watching your little one screaming in pain, and feeling completely helpless. Colic is a condition where a baby screams frequently for extended periods of time. The crying typical happens, or is worse in the early evenings, which is know to most mom's of colicky babies as the "witching hour." So given that crying is generally a part of a newborn's existence, how do you know if a baby has colic. According to WebMd.com, the medical definition to determine if the colic monster has emerged is if your otherwise healthy baby
Cries harder than expected in a "3" pattern: more than 3 hours a day more than 3 days a week for at least 3 weeks in a row. Colic is usually worst when babies are around 6 to 8 weeks of age and goes away on its own between 8 and 14 weeks of age.
There is no known, clear cause of colic, although many doctors believe it could be due to an immature nervous system, which makes it difficult for babies to control their crying. Also, although digestion issues and gas have been linked to colic in the past, this has long ago been shown to be untrue. However, if your baby has painful gas, this can contribute to uncontrollable crying.
In my case, Miles seemed to have developed colic around 3 weeks. Up until then he was a very quiet and calm baby. Then one day, it seemed that around 5 PM, he would going into what I liked to call, Meltdown Mode. (During this period, Miles affectionately became known in our house "Meltdown Miles." Does that make me a bad mom??). My mom recognized that while crying, he seemed to tighten his stomach. So we immediately attributed his bouts of crying to stomach issues and/or colic.
Of course, being a new mother, and having both my mom and mother in law in the house at the time, we went into a panic of removing nearly everything from my diet that could potentially be giving Miles gas through my breast milk. No more green leafy veggies, onions, garlic, melons, or lemons (as I was told these could cause gas). The panic about my diet was a little frustrating, and unhealthy. It was a bit depressing thinking that my eating habits were for Miles' painful nights. Also, without my regular dose of high fiber veggies, I began developing my own tummy issues.
So, my mom and I continued to do more research on the subject and spoke with my doctor. On many websites, there are recommendations for an elixir called Gripe Water or as the call it Germany, Baby Tea. These substance contain tummy settling herbs such fennel and chamomile. However, my doctor said, that while these products are perfectly safe, her patients never had much success with them. Also, she told me to stop panicking about my diet. In her words "breast milk does a good job of being breast milk." Unless I am eating or drinking extreme amounts of anything, it shouldn't create and issue with my breast milk. Her advice, was to start using probiotics.
Probiotics and Colic?
Probiotics are live bacteria that help your digestive track do its job properly. Infants, children, and adults can all take probiotics to help their digestive track function. The probiotic bacteria are a bacteria that already live in our digestive tracks, even in infants, so by supplementing with probiotic, it is merely helping function that already exists.
Miles' doctor recommended an organic probiotic sold at Whole Foods, but you can find them almost anywhere. Her advice was to dab a bit on my nipple during breastfeeding, and this has worked very well for us.
Obviously since colic is not caused by digestion problems, probiotics are not exactly a cure for colic. However, in Miles' case, easing his stomach issues certainly eliminated his 5 PM meltdown. He still of course has his baby crying issues, but not the uncontrollable screeching he was prone to before we introduced probiotics into his diet.
If your baby has colic, the two best pieces of non medical advice I can give is, don't panic and don't blame yourself. You didn't do anything wrong to cause your little guy to have colic, and it's not the babies fault either. Sometimes some babies just develop colic. It's as simple as that. Of course, this is easier said than done. There are few things that can make you feel worse as a new mom than an uncontrollably screaming baby. You feel useless, and helpless, and your heart breaks for your little one. Just keep telling yourself that it will eventually pass, and work with your doctor on possible solutions. At the time, I was afraid nothing would work, but within 3 days of using the probiotics, Miles was like a new baby! Maybe probiotics won't be your magic cure, but don't give up, keep looking for solutions that work for you and your baby.