Breastfeeding and Colic
Breastfeeding is such a personal choice, which can be a rewarding and sometimes a difficult experience. I am currently breastfeeding my second son and I am grateful that I was able to breastfeed my first for over 18 months. Breastfeeding doesn’t come easily or naturally to some mothers but proper support from a postpartum doula and lactation consultant to help ensure baby is feeding properly, gaining weight well, and latching correctly, can make a world of difference. You are looking for “fish tail lips”. No matter your nutrition level, without a proper latch there can be a decrease of milk supply. I saw a lactation consultant with both my boys even though I had loads of milk. I needed the support and all the milk was giving them gas. Plus it’s nice to just have the support and to hear “you’re doing a GREAT job mommy”. It is true that some women cannot produce enough milk or any milk for their baby but, most times with the right support and nutrition, many issues can be resolved. No matter the situation be kind to yourself – you are doing great no matter the outcome.
Offering breast milk to your baby gives them the best possible start to life. Nutrients in your breast milk will strengthen baby’s immune system, and nourish their growth and development; it is perfectly formulated to meet all of baby’s nutritional needs. Establishing a positive environment for breastfeeding is important. Be sure to gain the support of your partner, family and friends. It is important to breastfeed on demand for the first few months. A newborn will nurse anywhere from 8-12 times within a 24 hour period. Also, try to offer each breast one at a time. Burp baby in between each breast. Let your baby feed until she is done. Do not put a time limit on it. Babies are wonderful at regulating their own intake, and this will ensure baby is getting precious hind-milk, which is higher in fat. Nutrition is also important because it affects the composition of your breast milk and helps with your recovery, plus it benefits the baby. Although sometimes mother’s have concerns about whether or not what they are eating is affecting the baby. I get asked a lot about colic and food sensitivities and allergies.
“My Baby Has Colic. Could it be Due To a Food Allergy or Intolerance?”
Many mothers experience fussiness in their babies once in a while, and it is usually accepted as part of the trials of motherhood. Yet, some babies have “colic,” which is described as a healthy baby who is gaining weight steadily but crying inconsolably for over 3 hours, for an incidence that happens more than 3 days a week, for over 3 weeks. The crying starts usually at around the same time every day, often in the evenings. It doesn’t matter whether you bottle feed or breast feed your baby – roughly one in every five babies experience colic starting at around 2 weeks and ending at around 4 months. It can usually be identified by baby pulling up his legs up while crying, his hands may be in a fist, he is letting go of a lot of gas and his stomach is harder than normal. The worst part about colic is that there is no proven treatment.
Although no one really knows what causes true “colic,” saying that it will just go away on its own can be hard to accept and to deal with in those first few months. Most parents want, and need, a solution. While studies show that some babies might indeed have an allergic reaction to certain food proteins that resist digestion in the small intestine and will find its way into breast milk (usually typical allergens such as dairy, nuts, soy or gluten), here are some things to consider as other possible causes:
- Your baby may not be properly latched on. A good latch is the key to successful breastfeeding! A proper latch is when the baby’s chin is pressed against mom’s breast and her nose is well away from the breast. Baby sucks the areola, not just the nipple. We like to call the shape baby’s lips make a “fish’s tail,” as baby’s lower lip should be turned outward. Baby should also not be making loud sucking noises when she feeds. Contact a lactation consultant, your midwife or doctor if you have any concerns or issues with your baby latching on.
- Your baby ‘s digestive system is still immature, which means they will have uncomfortable gas from time to time.
- Your baby received too much milk too quickly. A mother can have an overactive letdown reflex where the milk comes down very forcefully making it hard for the baby to swallow. The baby might even gag or swallow a lot of air along with the milk.
- Your baby swallowed too much air because he was crying, he drank out of a bottle, or he was not well positioned during the feeding.
- Your baby did not burp well between breasts or after feeds.
- A foremilk/hindmilk imbalance (More lactose vs. high-fat milk). This can be caused by several factors, such as an improper latch, an overactive letdown reflex, timed feedings, or not allowing baby to finish one breast at a time.
- Thrush can cause gas and discomfort.
- Baby has not had a bowel movement for a few days.
- If baby is also formula-fed, you might need to change formula.
- Your baby might be reacting to vitamins, medications, juices or herbal teas.
A Word Of Caution
If you suspect that your baby is sensitive to something you’ve eaten, you’ll find other symptoms apart from colic. These symptoms might be (but are not limited to):
- bloody filaments in their stool,
- excessive regurgitation
- eczema or a constantly runny nose
Sensitivity and Colic are just the tip of the iceberg. We go in-depth about the macronutrients needed to support mama during lactation, vitamins & minerals needed to support milk & baby, “super-foods” that help keep nutrients and supply up, diets for vegan & vegetarian breastfeeding mamas and herbs that are either helpful or dangerous. We also look into how to treat & prevent food intolerance & allergies, breastfeeding and starting solids, and we explore detoxing and dieting while breastfeeding.