Parenting: Coping With Colic

Written by Beth Marlin Lichter
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Your infant is three weeks old. The post-partum glow is wearing off and being replaced by a serious love affair with your offspring. This fragile little being, who smiles and coos and seems so content, has begun to cry. It begins about the same time each day, late afternoon around 4pm. That’s the time when most new mothers reach the peak of exhaustion and would do anything for an hour’s nap. At 5 o’clock there appears to be nothing you can do to calm her down. She might feed for a minute or two, but seems distracted. Her face is red, her body seems tense, and clearly there is something causing her discomfort. Finally around 7pm, whatever it is, has passed and frazzled mom is ready to pass out!

Unfortunately, the medical community knows very little about the causes of and cure for, colic, a condition that is believed to be related to the immature state of an infant’s digestive tract. If no other symptoms seem prevelant, such as fever or diarrhea, often the diagnosis is colic. The good news is, that it will just cease, most likely within another month. The bad news is that for about four hours every day, your child is wailing uncontrollably, creating an environment of great stress and anxiety in the home.
There are some things to be tried, however:
1. If breastfeeding, alter your diet to eliminate any foods you know are gas-producing in your own body, because those sensitivities may be passed along to your child. Typical gassy foods might include broccoli, avocados, cabbage and onions, and the elimination of highly acidic foods such as oranges and grapefruit might also be advisable. Consider dairy products as well. Are you a bit lactose intolerant? Steer clear of that glass of milk in the morning. And make sure you burp your baby a lot, after she feeds.
2. Some infants respond to being put in a baby sling on your tummy and going for a walk. The gentle bouncing and stimulation has a positive effect.
3. Sometimes a gentle tummy massage and bringing of baby’s knees up to the chest to try and relieve gas, is helpful.
4. Take a needed break and let someone take over for a bit, like a partner or grandma or babysitter. It’s debilitating for a new mother, still recovering from childbirth, spending a good part of the afternoon or evening desperately trying to calm an hysterical infant.

Take heart. One day in the not-too-distant future, your baby is suddenly going to just get over it, and you will have passed your first severe test of patience and fortitude down the long and lovely path of Motherhood!


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