The word ‘colic’ is a term often to describe a baby that won’t stop crying. Baby constipated and struggling to poo? Just colic.Is Baby arching his back and writhing around in pain? You guessed it, it’s colic.
One question is often asked by distraught parents; what is colic?
How can colic be so easy to diagnose yet every colicky baby seems to have different symptoms, but all have one thing in common. Misery. Both baby and parents are absolutely miserable. Health professionals look for the rule of three; is your baby crying for three hours or more, for three days a week over the course of three weeks? Now in my opinion I think this “rule” is completely outdated. Not only has modern medicine come along so much but the knowledge of the infant’s development is now more understood too, yet they still revert to this rule to diagnose a baby.
What is colic ?
This is the big question, as it is often shrouded in mystery. It is a diagnosis that is given to so many parents by health professionals, yet it doesn’t address anything. Not to mention that it doesn’t help a baby who is so upset and in obvious pain. If your baby is otherwise healthy and gaining weight then no help is provided and you are left trying to cope. This leads to parents being unsupported and feeling frustrated.
It is time to simplify colic. It is a collection of symptoms rather than a condition itself. It is also a sweeping diagnosis that is given to babies who cry but otherwise are healthy.
Rather than labelling a baby as colicky we should stop treating the symptoms and think about the real root of the problem. Your baby is crying for a reason and until we know what that reason is how can we treat a baby successfully and stop the misery? More needs to be done to understand the baby, the family history and see beyond the initial symptoms.
Additionally, it is important to remember that one baby’s colic is different to another’s and this is because it will have a different cause. One baby may be sensitive who is trying to adjust to this new world, and the only way she can communicate her distress is to cry. She has a red face, she clenches her fists and seems inconsolable. This baby’s misery is completely different to a baby who’s body is having an allergic response to milk, and can only tell his parents that he has tummy ache by crying inconsolably.
Is colic real?
It sure is if you ask a family who is in throws of colic hell. It is a complete and utter nightmare of a reality. A family with a colicky baby will feel overwhelmed, helpless, distressed and frustrated. Experts in the field of colic should spend time with families to provide them with an understanding of their baby and be given coping mechanisms so that families are not facing this alone. Someone there to understand the misery of both the baby and the parents. A listening ear who can not only sympathise but can empathise. Parents should feel loved, supported and cared for.
What causes colic?
There are various causes of colic. This is why having an overarching diagnosis of ‘just colic’ is not helpful. Care and attention needs to be given to families so that a true understanding of a child’s misery can be acknowledged and addressed. It could be the difficulties in settling due to the fourth trimester, it could be reflux, lactose intolerance, digestive difficulties, an allergy or a wealth of environmental issues.
Please speak to your gp, midwife or health visitor if your baby is unwell.
For my top 5 tips on dealing with colic please scroll below.
Coping with Colic
5 strategies to help
Although not recommended by health professionals due to sleep risks, swaddling in a safe way can recreate the contained feeling in the womb. It serves to replicate the feelings of warmth and protection and the snug fit experienced whilst in utero. Swaddling also stops your baby’s uncontrolled arm and leg flailing that is all thanks to your baby’s moro startle reflex which is one of the newborn reflexes.
When you are swaddling remember these safety tips:
Never cover your baby’s face
Use a light blanket such as a cellular blanket or large muslin
Keep the swaddle loose over your baby’s hips and legs
Don’t leave a swaddled baby unattended