Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The c word (colic)

If I've learnt anything since becoming a mother, its that colic isn't an answer to anything!

Since he was only a few days old, Alfred has suffered from colicky symptoms. (Almost) constant crying, high pitched screaming, pulling legs up to his tummy then kicking out, rigid body, interrupted sleep. I've been told by professionals that 'it's just a bit of trapped wind', 'he's just having a bad dream' (at 4 days old), 'he's just hungry' and at his 6 week check 'he's just at that age now when they are a bit colicky' (I bit my lip to reiterate that he's been a bit 'colicky' since day 3).

Colic is a word used to describe when a baby cries for 3 hours a day for an average of 3 days a week, and basically means 'this baby is upset for no apparent reason'.

There's lots of medication you can buy from the chemist that are aimed to treat 'crying for no apparent reason', but these are generally aimed to ease wind, and we tried them all.

I've come to the conclusion that the word colic is used to frequently and sometimes masks underlying issues, causing a lot of confusion as for a while, I too believed colic meant there was a problem with trapped wind. Turns out that's just called trapped wind, there's an apparent reason, so shouldn't be called colic.

Now like most babies, Alfred has had his fair share of trapped wind, but I always felt there was much more to his constant screaming and crying than wind. He was impossible to put down for a nap in the day and any sleep he did get in our arms was frequently interrupted by a contracting body and a scream if pure pain, often accompanied by thrashing his arms and a screwed up face.

I took Alfred to an osteopath following the advice of the lactation consultant. I wondered if this could help him with his colicky symptoms. Alfred guzzles his milk, like he's not fed in weeks and with it he takes a lot of air, but is also impossible to burp. I hoped that a little readjustment would sort him right out.

The osteopath was great. Alfred was inconsolable through the appointment, he screamed, cried and thrashed for the entire hour appointment (as well as the hour car journey there). She was patient and said there was more to this than just a poor alignment. She spoke to me about things that health visitors/ midwives had seemed to be too afraid to mention, including a lactose intolerance and reflux. She loosened his jaw for him which I hoped would sort him out. I could see an instant better latch on his bottle and dummy. However the screaming didn't stop. It was only then that I really looked into reflux, something I had dismissed as Alfred was never sick. I came across a post about silent reflux. The symptoms (aside from refusing feeding) described Alfred to a t.

He seems to constantly want to feed, this I learnt is because milk soothes the burning sensation caused by acid in the throat, but the more milk he guzzled the more there was in his stomach to aggravate his reflux. He's only ever been sick once. He's always sneezing and has terrible hiccups; he would only empty his bowels on average every other day; he's impossible to burp (any burps he does do sound wet), but has lots of painful trumps; the effects of pain on his body were all signs.

I booked an appointment with a gp and phoned the health visitors who agreed it sounded likely. Typically on the day of the appointment, Alfred was having a much sunnier day, however we were lucky enough to find a gp WHO LISTENED!!! A very rare creature at our gp practice. Alfred was prescribed gaviscon.

He seems a little better since taking Gaviscon. Unfortunately there are stormy days, but also some sunny days. The only thing that gets me through a stormy day is knowing sunny days do happen and it's only a matter of time before I see that warm smile that brings tears to my eyes.

Watching your little one wince and scream out in pain through the day and night and not being able to comfort him is a real heartbreaker. I've worried so much about how little sleep he gets as it's so frequently interrupted with screams of pain. I drove myself crazy trying to soothe a baby in constant agony. I've cried more in the past few weeks than I have my entire life. Sadly we don't get much social time to play as some days, any waking moment is plagued by reflux. It's not easy but in hopeful that he will soon grow out of it.

How we (try to) cope with silent reflux.

We use dr brown bottles. This reduces the amount of air taken in.

Dr Brown's anti colic bottles.

•His Moses basket is propped up at the head end by towels.

•He's fed sat upright and is kept upright for half an hour after each feed.

•He's hardly ever put flat on his back.

•I often carry him in the sling I made, but not as often as I'd like as it's too warm and he's a hot baby.

•He's swaddled at night. (life saver!)

•He's held for the majority of the day to help him sleep and we keep him upright.

•Lots of bumpy walks in his pushchair.

•I also put colief on his milk as this helps break down lactose. (I don't know how much of an affect this has for him, but I'm not willing to try him without it for fear it will aggravate his symptoms)

•Know that it's not your fault (that doesn't help at all I know!)

Alfred uses a bean bag when we really need to put him down in the day. Ours if from Bean Bag Planet.  This helps as he's not on his back, but also reduces risk of flat head. visit bean bag planet

What have you don't to help hot baby suffering with silent reflux or acid reflux?