Understanding gas, burps and colic


It’s been a while since I could jot down a drop of nostalgia from the pool of emotional upheaval I’ve been going through all these months. Soham is nine and a half months now and a lot is going on in the arena. He is having solid food, finger foods, standing upright – grabbing things from the table, especially T V remote controls and cell phones. He’s trying to socialize, although still anxious about new faces, surprisingly some faces are never getting old! An epoch-making change has occurred in our personal lives. Mouli and I have reclaimed our bed and peaceful sleeping as Soham has made a transition from co-sleeping to sleeping in his crib! Well, all these and a lot more deserve separate pieces of writings but today, I would want to share a crucial experience from the first 4-5 months of my motherhood that’s not very talked about.  How to deal with a colicky baby!

For those who don’t have a sound understanding of colic, this is what medterms.com has to say:

Colic: An attack of crying and apparent abdominal pain in early infancy. This is a common condition, occurring in about 1 in every 10 babies. Colic is characterized by episodes of irritability, loud crying, and what appears to be abdominal pain with the legs drawn up and the abdomen feeling rigid.
An attack of colic usually begins suddenly, often after a feeding. The cry is loud and continuous. The spells last from one to four hours and the baby’s face often gets flushed or red. The belly is sometimes distended or prominent; the legs alternate between flexed and extended straight out; the feet are often cold and the hands clenched. The episodes, while they can occur at any time of the day or night, typically begin in the late afternoon or early evening.
Overfeeding, undiluted juices, food allergies, and emotional stress can aggravate colic. Colic usually lasts from several weeks of age to 3 to 4 months of age. It is not harmful to the baby but is very consternating and wearing on parents.
Parents should not assume new abdominal pain and loud crying in their baby is colic. It is important for the baby to be seen by a doctor to rule out other more serious conditions.

There were particular times, mostly evenings and nights when Soham would remain wide awake, agitated and agonized, howling inconsolably. There was nothing that I could do to calm him down. So tormented I used to be in those days, anxiously waiting for his next bouts of outbursts that everything else seemed meaningless. No one or nothing could release me from the constant palpitation deep within. My baby was in pain and it affected me painfully. After innumerable visits at the pediatrician’s and changing ped twice, finally I came to some kind of understanding.

Soham turned out to be allergic to cow’s milk protein. Not lactose intolerant as he did fine with breast milk but if there was any hint of cow’s milk protein in his diet then that would make him severely gassy and acidic, consequently the acids would flow through his not-so-developed intestine valves and overflow into upper chambers, causing him a lot of anguish. He would twist and turn his tiny body to burp out the air but as it happens with newborns often times, they are incapable of burping without help.

So, my life was filled with a new regime in order to ease out my little prince. It wasn’t easy. Countless sleepless days and nights tending to my baby – the grueling routine my mind and body didn’t take too easily. It was like the world came to a standstill. I read many articles and blogposts on the net. One mom had said that her baby got over colic but she could never get over the psychological effects. Yet another mentioned about how she and her husband were close to a divorce over their colicky baby crying round the clock. Needless to stay, things didn’t look too bright at that point of time.

But we survived. We as a family got over those agonizing moments and things have moved to the right direction since then. With right knowledge and a whole lot of self-discipline you could overcome it too.

  • First and foremost one has to remember that it’s a temporary phase in one’s life with no after-effect. Most babies get over it by the time they are six months old. So, one has to keep up with optimism as distressed mothers make distressed kids. Babies are amazingly perceptive and they pick up all the emotional nuances very easily.
  • If you are a nursing mother, you got to watch your diet. Discussions with doctors help in identifying which foods can be potentially allergic. Even spices are a big no for babies with a sensitive stomach. I was totally on a boiled food diet for five months. As Soham was allergic to cow’s milk protein, I not only couldn’t have milk in any form like shakes, ice-creams, yoghurts or tea/coffee with milk but also avoided food which had traces of it like biscuits, cakes or chocolates. Besides, green vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage also made him gassy.
  • Gas-relief medicines like Gripe water, Mylicon etc are pretty safe and effective. I gave Soham after every meal for about 2 months.
  • To keep the stomach acids low, one can use medicines like Prevacid etc which are baby-safe. Of course, the doctor is the best judge to select the type and dosage as per baby’s requirement.
  • Different types of formulas are available to cater to such needs. Soham has Nutramigen Lipil from Enfamil which is not soy milk but some kind of treated milk powder that don’t upset his system. It’s super expensive, though.
  • Keeping the baby elevated while feeding and for about half hour afterwards helps a great deal. Burping repeatedly while and after a feed is a must. I used to make Soham sit on the bouncer for some time after meals in daytime.
  • Also keeping the crib elevated at 45 degrees boost peaceful sleeping. I used to mostly walk up and down with little jerky movements and sometimes, while Soham was in his worst colic phase, just hold him vertical in my arms while he was asleep. Thankfully that phase did not last for more than a month but it looked like eternity to me.
  • Be careful about what you’re feeding even when the baby starts solids.

It’s amazing how our minds selectively store the memories of good times while the harrowing ones eventually vanish in thin air. That’s how it should be. Let’s keep it that way and enjoy our babies. Smile.

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