The word ‘colic’ is often said to parents of a miserable baby. Baby won’t stop crying? Colic. Baby constipated and struggling to poo? Colic. Baby arching his back and writhing around in pain? Colic.
How can colic be so easy to diagnose yet every colicky baby seems to have different symptoms, but all have one thing in common. Misery. Both baby and parents are absolutely miserable. Health professionals say “it’s just colic” and “your baby will grow out of it”. Hearing ‘just colic’ leaves parents feeling frustrated as their baby is in pain, yet no help is forthcoming.
Colic is a diagnosis that is given to so many parents by health professionals, yet it doesn’t address anything. It certainly doesn’t help a baby who is so upset and in obvious pain. If your baby is otherwise healthy and gaining weight then no help is provided and you are left trying to cope. This leads to parents feeling unheard and unsupported.
What is important to understand is that colic is a collection of symptoms rather than a condition itself. It’s a sweeping diagnosis that is given to babies who cry but otherwise are healthy. Rather than be labelling a baby as colicky we should stop treating the symptoms and think about the real root of the problem. Your baby is crying for a reason and until we know what that reason is how can we treat a baby successfully and stop the misery? More needs to be done to understand the baby, the family history and see beyond the initial symptoms.
One baby’s colic is different to another’s and this is because it will have a different cause. One baby may be sensitive who is trying to adjust to this new world, and the only way she can communicate her distress is to cry. She has a red face, she clenches her fists and seems inconsolable. This baby’s misery is completely different to a baby who’s body is having an allergic response to milk, and can only tell his parents that he has tummy ache by crying inconsolably.
There are many reasons why colic surfaces. This is why having an overarching diagnosis of colic is not helpful. Care and attention needs to be given to families so that a true understanding of a child’s misery can be acknowledged and addressed. It could be the difficulties in settling due to the fourth trimester, it could be reflux, lactose intolerance, digestive difficulties, an allergy or a wealth of environmental issues.
Many parents are told that their baby will grow out of it by twelve weeks old. Twelve weeks is a very long time when you are faced with an inconsolable baby. In some cases those colic symptoms will not disappear at twelve weeks and only then questions begin to be asked. Although should parents be left to wait for that magic three months mark to pass before being taken seriously?
It is high time we stop using ‘just colic’ as some sort of sticking plaster. Time should be spent with families to provide them with an understanding of their baby and be given coping mechanisms so that families are not facing caring for a distressed baby alone. Families need someone to understand and validate the misery of both the baby and the parents. A listening ear who can not only sympathise but can empathise. Parents should feel loved, supported and cared for.
As a Colic Consultant and Baby Massage expert, I have many years of experience of helping colicky babies. I understand the pain that a family suffers as I have been there myself as a mother to a colicky baby. I have gone unheard and I would not like any family to have to go through the misery that we, as a family, endured. The Colic S.O.S programme is a completely personalised plan which is designed to help families who are in the throws of colic misery. By understanding the root cause of a baby’s colic, the right tools can be used to empower parents to help their baby. The programme also looks to nurture the parents too by equipping them with self-care tools so that they are not neglected during this difficult time.
Becky is the founder of Colic SOS and Happy Sleepy Baby. She is a colic and baby massage expert with many years of experience with working with families with colicky babies. She has a wealth of knowledge about colic, it’s causes and how to support both babies and their families during this difficult period. Find out more at www.colicsos.com