Understanding Colic – A Craniosacral Approach

Understanding ColicWhat is colic?  Colic is a term given to inconsolable crying and irritability in an otherwise healthy baby which usually starts at between 2 and 6 weeks of age and stops usually no later than 4 months.

Common symptoms of colic for baby include:

• The pulling of legs up to the abdomen whilst crying
• Arching of back
• General stiffening of limbs
• A tense bloated abdomen
• The cry – Frequent, inconsolable, agonising shrieks that can last for hours. Bouts of crying are often in the late afternoon and evening/night time
• Exhausted parents!

It can be useful to look at ‘The Rule of Threes’ to see if your baby may have colic, and ask if the crying:

• Lasts for at least 3 hours per day?
• Happens at least 3 days a week?
• Continues for at least 3 weeks?

The cause of colic remains somewhat a mystery in both the medical and complementary health fields, and continues to be an arena for both debate and science.

It is often stated that a possible cause of colic, as with reflux, is due to the immature digestive system of the new born. The word colic comes from the Greek word “kolikos”, which translates as ‘suffering in the colon’. Unlike many mammals, humans are born early in terms of their development and consequently much takes place outside the womb, including that of the digestive tract and the nervous system.

If you think your baby may have colic, the first step is to visit your GP. This will rule out medical reasons for crying such as infection, reflux (often considered a cause of colic), allergies and intolerances (e.g. lactose). It will also offer you reassurance.

If baby presents some or all of the above symptoms it can be useful to start keeping a diary to understand any correlation of symptoms. This is also useful information to take along to your GP and craniosacral therapist.

Record things such as:

• The time and length of crying
• How long after feeding does the crying begin
• How does baby look and move
• What makes them better/worse
• How are the bowel movements in terms of regularity and the consistency/look of stools
• Have there been any changes in feeding? e.g. length of feeding, non-nutritional feeds, changes in formula (amount of or type/brand).
• Is there any reflux/posseting? i.e. baby brings up milk during/after feeding

Although there is no magic cure for colic, there are many things that can help baby feel calmer and you more rested. Try the following:

• Eliminate cow’s milk from mum’s diet for a week and see if there are any changes
• Eliminate gas producing foods e.g. coffee, onions, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, chocolate, and sprouts. Do this for a week and then reintroduce foods one by one writing the changes in symptoms down
• Try different holding positions – one is to lie baby along your forearm on its tummy (dads are good at this). See “Colic Comfort”, blogged later this month
• Skin to skin contact, as much as possible. Carrying baby can also help and a sling can be useful here
• Try feeding slower and more frequently. A baby’s stomach is only the size of its fist; often mums worry about under-feeding, and can over feed as a result. Sometimes there is simply no room!
• Keep baby upright for a minimum of 20 minutes after feeding, winding regularly
• Check nappies are not too tight

It’s important to keep experimenting to see what works, and even more so to take time out if possible. If you have a partner, good friend or other family member, take turns to take a break – a relaxed carer, generally means a relaxed baby – and time to rest and restore will do you all the world of good.

A final word of reassurance to frustrated and exhausted parents – if it’s colic, it WILL stop!

Mum’s often come with their babies who are experiencing colic. The first step is to contact your GP to eliminate other reasons for distress. I have found that craniosacral therapy helps babies with colic by helping to calm the nervous system and soften and relax the digestive tract. It can also help mums to relax and feel reassured.

For further information or to make an appointment please contact me or call 07886 659976.

The information provided here is complementary to, and not a substitute, for medical advice.

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