Colic and Breastfeeding

Any woman who has dealt with a baby with colic will tell you that she'll try virtually anything to get the colic to stop. Approximately 20% of all babies exhibit colic in the first few weeks after delivery. Colic is defined as completely uncontrollable crying that a baby exhibits for no apparent reason. It appears around weeks 2-4 and usually dissipates around 3 months. It appears in babies who are breastfed and babies who are bottle fed, and there are no known causes at this time. There are, however, many theories about what causes colic and many ideas that a desperate mother may want to try.

If you breastfeed exclusively, there are a number of measures that you can take to try to calm your colicky newborn. Here are ideas that may help your fussy baby.

Why Colic in a Breastfed Baby?

There are a few reasons that colic might be related to breastfeeding practices for some babies. As the baby remains on one breast for a longer period of time, he is getting to the fattier milk. If you switch your baby from one breast to the next too quickly, he may be getting fewer calories and too much milk sugar. This can cause wind, vomiting, and digestive problems. It is, therefore, better to nurse on one side until the baby decides that he is finished there. Then, move to the other side, or start on the other side for the next feeding. Sometimes, you may also have a flow that is too fast for the baby. This can also disrupt his digestion and make him cranky. Try nursing while lying down, as this can slow down the flow; you can also use a nipple shield or express milk into a bottle. Finally, if the baby is not latching on well for whatever reason, then he may be taking in a great amount of air. When this occurs, he'll be gassy and uncomfortable. You may want to express the milk into a bottle and see if this helps.

Diet and Colic

If the tricks above don't seem to help, then it's possible that your baby is allergic to something in your breast milk, or that he's sensitive to something. Tests have shown that colicky babies do better when the mothers get rid of all cow's milk proteins in their diets. This includes milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream and any other products that contain milk. Some researchers in Australia think that colic in breastfed babies might be due to the increased amount of processed foods that we eat. Pay attention to the chemicals that you are eating and the artificial sweeteners that you are using.

Other Ideas

While these suggestions might not solve your colic problems, most women would agree that they are worth a try. You certainly shouldn't stop breastfeeding due to colic. Many colicky babies are bottle fed and there is no proof that breastfeeding is the culprit. It is possible, however, that either your nursing methods or your diet are causing some of the baby's distress. Play around with these suggestions and try to figure out a diet regime and nursing methods that will work for you and your baby. Most importantly, breathe deeply, try to relax and know that this too will pass with time!

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