the “c” word

it’s the word starting and ending in a “c”, the word most new parents learn to dread… colic. and it moved in to our home at three weeks, just as nico went back to work. suddenly not only did i have to figure out how to look after a newborn by myself, newly recovered from a complicated labour, but my angel child would unexpectedly start screaming in pain without warning.

the early days are the worst. your child is screaming – not crying – in pain, with tears running down his face. babies don’t get tears until much later. you have no idea what to do, no knowledge on what to do with babies in general (no your head does not miraculously fill with the required knowledge at birth) let alone in emergency situations like these. guilt and worry overcome you… what to do?

i can honestly say that i have tried just about everything short of just leaving our baby to cry in his cot. thankfully there are things that help, if even momentarily, and they probably go against everything you vowed you would never do with your child.

  1. the chiro. our first stop was the chiropractor, even before our babe got colic, but we went again afterwards. i can’t say whether it helped or not. we got some good advice from the second chiro – did you know that gas is a byproduct of milk digestion in breastfed babies? at least we can say we tried it.
  2. “bouncing” our baby on an exercise ball. yes, rocking and jiggling him will work while he is still tiny, but there comes a time when everything you do unaided is just not enough. and when he is screaming in your ringing ear, writhing in pain, you do just that – bounce with him. it soothes him almost immediately, which means that you are calm enough to deal with the presenting problem.
  3. leg maneuvers. these include bicycling his legs and holding them in to his stomach to aid in moving the farts along and out. also effective whilst bouncing on the ball (see above) or singing a silly song, “i like to push it, push it (x2); push it to the left and push it to the right…”.
  4. baby massage. i read various internet articles on baby massage, we attended a four week baby massage course and the chiro gave us some massage and exercise tips. using a pure cold pressed oil with some dill essential oil in it one may be able to aid in the relief from stuck farts. massaging the “bubbles” (they feel like bubble wrap in his soles) out of our baby’s feet seems to calm him whilst helping in getting the farts out at times. massaging in a circular clockwise direction on the tummy is supposed to help but i have found that this is too sensitive a place to go for our little guy. then there’s the “i love you” drawing on his tummy, supposed to make him poop but doesn’t seem to have the desired effect. what i do sometimes though is just lightly rub the oil over his tummy. i reckon the dill oil helps and is absorbed through the skin.
  5. lotions and potions. telament gripe water, telament colic drops, bennets colic mixture, mag phos (tissue salts no 8), magen, iberogast… i don’t like to admit it, but i do get desperate when the wails start flying in. and everyone has a potion to cure colic. some are more effective than others. i found telament colic drops only work to get the burps out, our problem is with the farts. bennets colic mixture contains too much alcohol. iberogast seemed to work in the beginning but eventually seemed to increase the “bubbles” in our babe’s tummy. mag phos helps against cramping but increases flatulence, which doesn’t help as our guy seems to have pain when they exit too. right now natura’s magen is all that i am giving him, added to a teaspoon of boiling water to evaporate the alcohol. it has an ingredient that is supposed to absorb the winds in the intestines and works within 15 minutes or less.
  6. the pacifier. yes we went there, after vowing our child was not going to use one. what were we thinking? we found that although he refused to take it ordinarily, it would help to get him quietly into the car seat on outings… at times. someone would have to travel at the back with him to keep it in though. and then he suffered an episode of epic proportions at church two weeks ago, a sign of things to come. suddenly nothing worked. after troubleshooting every possible solution i stumbled onto the pacifier. it sounds logical, but because he had refused to take it before i never really considered it. that pacifier is never far away now. any sign of discontent and it’s shoved into his mouth. i think i’ve gone over to the other extreme, overusing the thing, but it works and i will find a balance as soon as i’ve overcome the trauma of the past two weeks 🙂

our chiro says that the colic is due to an immature digestive system and that he should grow out of it between 12 and 14 weeks. there is hope.