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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Colic


Isabelle, otherwise my easiest baby of the three, has both acid reflux and colic. The acid reflux is easily controlled with a medicine called Ranitidine. What a blessing.
Colic however, is a different story. It took us a while to figure out that she had colic because of the acid reflux issues. Then the colic seemed to have gone away for a little while once Isabelle starting her acid reflux meds. After a week on the acid reflux medication, she started to scream again at night. Not a fussing cry or even an upset cry, this is the "I'm in a lot of pain" cry. She'd curl up into a little ball, fists and legs tightly pulled to her body and her skin being purple from crying so hard. Nothing could soothe her. It was heartbreaking. She'd do this at the same time every night, starting somewhere after 6 or 7pm and lasting until 10pm. The only thing that would make her stop, was to put her in a warm bath. Sadly babies cannot stay in the bathtub for 3 or 4 hours. So the screaming would resume once the bath was over. We returned to the pediatrician and got our official diagnosis. My mom found a wonderful article by a German professor (Prof. Dr. Manfred Götz) on the internet that explained colic and gave helpful advice on how to lesson the pain for the babies. It's in German, so there is not link here.
No one truly knows what causes colic or what exactly it is. The most common theory is that colic are severe cramps mostly in the stomach area that 10-15% of babies get. The real cause of these cramps is also a mystery. The way the baby feeds seems to be why these babies get colic. It should be noted that there is a big difference between a babies normal fussiness in the evening hours (accompanied by a lot of crying) and the distinctive screaming cries of colic (a sure sign is the curling up of fists in pain and drawing legs into the tummy).
Once diagnosed with colic, the first step is to change the mother's diet. Here again, are just theories as to what foods cause the colic. Most often gas-enducing foods like members of the cabbage family and anything spicy are eliminated. Dairy is often eliminated as well but thankfully, that didn't seem to bother Isabelle. Coffee, chocolate and any teas (even herb teas) seem to bother colic babies. (You know that giving up chocolate and my beloved chair tea lattes was a true sacrifice.) Usually you go to a bland diet until baby feels better. You can slowly add one food item back in, usually for 4-5 days, to see how baby reacts. After a few failed attempts, you then eliminate that food item. For me personally, I no longer want to add anything to my diet. It's just heartbreaking to have those nights when you find a pain-causing food and I'd much rather have a bland and boring diet. So what am I eating? Think most things white and clear. Basically the same foods you'd eat if you were sick. Vanilla yogurt, Swiss cheese, cream cheese, white or whole wheat bread (don't go crazy with grains though), chicken, broth, rice, noodles, ham, bananas, crackers, pancakes, waffles, honey (no raw honey for nursing moms). When I was still trying to add healthy foods to my diet, the following worked well and I've kept them: Spinach, watermelon, avocado, apples. Other things that didn't work: peanut butter (I thought this was bland but man was I wrong!), strawberries, raspberries (I think), celery, soy and/or almond milk.
As I already mentioned, a bath was very soothing to Isabelle. The other thing that truly seemed to help was the Moby wrap. This is such a great tool for moms to have. Click here to see what I'm talking about. My sister-in-law was so gracious to let me borrow hers and both Isabelle and I love it. My body heat on her hurting tummy and being so close to mommy seemed to help Isabelle. They are all bundled up in those beautiful wraps. Keeps them tight and cozy.
As far as feedings go, the above mentioned article said that it helps to feed baby in a more upright position and to burp them more frequently and longer. A nurse at our pediatrician's office also said that a towel or blanket warmed in the dryer and wrapped around their bellies would be comforting. (Be sure not to put this on their naked skin as the dryer still warms the fabric quite a bit.) Tummy massages and monotone sounds (such as a vacuum cleaner) seem to calm some colic babies. The professor's advice was to try different suggestions and to see what works for your baby.
Isabelle seems to be growing out of her colic. She still has a colic night here and there but thankfully all babies grow out of colic. At the most, they will have it until the end of the third month of life from what I read. Colic seems to have made a mark on her little life. Although she is a great sleeper and prefers to go to sleep by herself in the daytime, she seems to panic when nighttime comes around. She will not go to sleep in her usual manner and will not calm down until mommy holds her, walking around with her or rocking her. And that's just fine with me. Even though my back hurts some nights from carrying her so much, I love to carry her around and know that she is able to fall asleep in my arms. I keep talking and/or singing to her while she cries and try my best to calm her. And once peaceful sleep falls over my little girl, I cherish her resting against my chest, being able to kiss her little fuzzy head, rubbing her chubby little feet, caressing her plump cheeks and smelling her baby smell.

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