Breastfeeding And Colic - When Two Stressors Collide
By Cindy Puppos | September 09, 2019
Let’s face it...babies can be fussy! But they’ve got a lot on their plate - taking in a whole new world, learning how to breast and bottle feed, Trying to communicate without words, and so much more. So how do you know when fussiness translates into something more?
How do parents establish and continue a breastfeeding schedule when their baby is in distress? We’re here to help break down the signs of a colicky baby and share how to minimize baby’s discomfort when a colic diagnosis comes your way.
WHAT IS COLIC AND WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Colic is described as recurrent, prolonged and excessive crying or fussiness in a healthy infant. Sure, all babies cry. It’s one of the only ways they can communicate. However, a baby who has been diagnosed as having colic cries many hours a day.
Often referred to as the “Rule of 3” a baby with colic cries for more than 3 hours a day, for more than 3 days a week, and for over 3 weeks. These discomfort and crying episodes start around the second week of life and may last until about four months of age. Yeah, we know. That’s ROUGH for everyone involved.
The symptoms of a baby with colic include:
- Intense crying that turns into screaming.
- Crying for no reason (not hungry, does not need a diaper change).
- Crying episodes that are predictable (time of day, length of time).
- Extreme fussiness outside of crying episodes.
- Facial expressions like closing eyes then opening them widely, furrowing of the brow, redness or paleness of face due to holding their breath.
- Physical expressions of discomfort like stiffened arms or legs, clenched fists and an arched back.
- Intense need to be held and comforted more than usual.
- Disruption in sleep and eating due to crying and fussiness.
- Uptick in bowel activity, gas and spit up.
PARENTING AND BREASTFEEDING A BABY WITH COLIC
Parenting a child with colic adds a significant amount of stress to an already overwhelming time of your life, and trying to calm a colicky baby is not easy.
It’s important to recognize that mothers with colicky babies are at an increased risk for postpartum depression, and are more likely to stop breastfeeding and pumping due to stress. During this time, it is very important for both parents to exercise self-care.
Here are a few tips for parenting a baby with colic:
- Have a friend or family member watch your child so you can get out of the house for a few hours.
- Rest when baby rests. Take a warm bath or hit the gym to relieve the tension and rest your mind.
- Have others feed your little one with bottled breast milk - this will allow you to rest and regroup. 1 Natural Way can work with you and your insurance company to have a breast pump and supplies sent directly to your house - many times free of charge.
- When baby is crying or being fussy, take turns of being in charge of “calming duty” with your partner or a loved one.
- Sign up for 1 Natural Way’s Monthly Breastfeeding Resupply Program so that breast pump supplies like collection and storage bottles, tubing and breast shields can be delivered to your doorstep each month. This takes those stressful last minute store trips out of the equation!
- If your child is too worked up to nurse, don’t skip a feeding session - pump instead. Delaying a feeding session can cause breast discomfort and decrease your milk supply. Plus, if you get some extra milk on hand, you’ll have surplus bottles for those times you need to get away for an hour or two.
While there are no treatments or remedies to treat colic, doctors have several suggestions for reducing the intensity of discomfort and fussiness, as well as shortening the duration of these episodes.
- Create a peaceful, calm environment. Reduce outside noise and overstimulation, draw the curtains and turn on a sound machine or soothing lullabies. A warm bath or a pacifier can also work.
- Hold your baby. Rock him. Swaddle her. Try keeping them close in a baby carrier - this strategy combines closeness, warmth and swaying motions.
- Offer up a change of scenery by taking baby for a walk in a stroller or baby carrier. Baby may be less fussy in one environment versus another, or may even feel more comfortable in the arms of the other parent, a grandparent, a sibling, etc.
- Touch is calming and powerful. Try giving baby an infant massage or back rub, or applying light pressure to his abdomen.
Just remember, like many things will be as your child grows and matures - this is just a phase. They will outgrow it.
Haven’t secured your insurance covered breast pump yet? We’re here to help. Simply click this link to get started.
1 Natural Way offers a complete array of products and services to make moms more comfortable and confident throughout their pregnancy and breastfeeding journey. We provide mothers with name brand breast pumps, monthly breastfeeding supplies, maternity compression stockings and postpartum recovery garments, as well as expert and compassionate advice and top-notch customer service. Click here to start the qualification process and find out if you qualify for a breast pump at no cost to you.
About the Author
Cindy Puppos is 1 Natural Way's Customer Service Supervisor, so she has a good idea of all the different and wonderful questions that moms have for her team. Thankfully, as the mother of two boys (who are now grown!) and a veteran of the company and breastfeeding, Cindy is always knowledgeable about breastfeeding, pumping and all the latest and greatest pumps!