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colic

BABY ON BOARD

The Colic Diaries: Cranial Osteopathy

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Daphne after her first session

As anyone who’s experienced colic will testify, it drives you to previously unthought-of measures. And in my case, when I started reading forums (I know, tsk) full of mums swearing by something called cranial osteopathy, I decided it was worth a try. Despite my huge scepticism of alternative therapy.

I wish I could explain cranial osteopathy to you, but I still don’t fully understand it. It’s basically something to do with the way the membranes in your head are aligned (I think! please correct me if I’m wrong!). Apparently when you are born, these get all squashed up and out of place depending on how the labour went, and so lots of babies have issues with their digestion thanks to the membranes compressing the vagus nerve, which has something to do with your stomach. Apologies if this makes no sense at all, but I didn’t even do GCSE Biology so I really am out of my comfort zone here. Anyway. Cranial osteopaths work by manipulating a baby’s head in order to release these membranes and correct some of the alignment that is out of place thanks to the often-traumatic way a baby is born.

I had a super long labour, as anyone who’s had the time and patience to read Daphne’s birth story will know. I was actively pushing for nearly three hours, which is definitely over the recommended limit, and I was about ten minutes away from having to have ventouse used on me. So Daphne was certainly stuck in one position for a long time and therefore came out a bit squashed and wonky – something the osteopaths say they can fix.

Anyway, like a proper journalist I did my research, and eventually booked an appointment with an osteopath who works really near me, but also volunteers at The Osteopathic Centre for Children. I wanted someone who specialised in babies, and I found some good reviews for him online. If you want his name, just drop me an email and I’ll give it to you – I don’t really want to name him on here as I’m not really confident I know enough to ‘review’ him.

The first appointment was an hour, and the first twenty minutes were spent with me just telling him all about my pregnancy and labour, as well as Daphne’s symptoms. The most interesting thing was that when we lay Daphne on the treatment bed, she did her usual jerky twitchy thing, and he asked me if she was always like that when she was lying down. And basically she is – unless she’s asleep. I thought all babies jerked their arms and legs back and forth while they were prostrate, but apparently not. He asked me if I’d been stressed during my pregnancy, and I nearly fell off my chair. Suffice to say the latter stages of my pregnancy were some of the most stressful months of my life. He told me that my high cortisol levels during the third trimester had likely made Daphne a very ‘wired’ baby, whose autonomic response was set to ‘Fight’, making her ultra-sensitive to stimulation and stress. This was really upsetting, but also very interesting and did ring true.

He also asked if she tended to lean her head in one direction a lot, which she did, and he confirmed the direction without me telling him. He said he could see a few issues with her alignment – mostly that she tended to look to the left, and also that her head was compressed into her shoulders a bit – all related to the way she was born. He said that this is what he could fix with his treatment.

Interestingly, he told me he could NOT fix her colic. He said osteopathy does not treat colic and that it is simply something she would grow out of at around three months, as her brain matures. He asked about her poos, and I said there were often white seedy bits in them, which he said were undigested milk and could indicate a lactose intolerance, which certainly wouldn’t help her colic symptoms. All this was very interesting as this has massively improved since we put her on Comfort milk, as I said in my previous post.

He said that the jerky twitchy thing would go away as she got older and realised how much she was loved by us, leading her to feel safer in the world, which made me have a bit of a weep!

As for the alignment issues, he did his treatment (which is the weirdest thing as it looked like he wasn’t doing anything – he just sort of placed his fingers gently on various points of her head, neck and stomach) and said she’d probably need two more sessions. Then he sent us on our merry way. I felt a bit ripped off as we’d spent most of the appointment just talking, but we booked in for the following week anyway. Then we took her home. And she was like a new baby!

She slept all day and all evening, and didn’t have any colicky symptoms at all that night. She was calm and seemed really… happy. And the next day, I could have sworn that her neck looked a bit longer – I battle daily with trying to remove neck cheese from her neck folds, and it was suddenly much easier to do as she had ‘more’ neck. I couldn’t explain it, but she was definitely different somehow.

However, a few days later, her colic was back with a vengeance. We took her for her second treatment the next week and the same thing happened again – she was a joy after the treatment, then the effects wore off a bit after a day or two. But interestingly, at the second appointment, the osteopath said he didn’t need to see her again (despite saying she’d need three sessions in total at the first session), making me less suspicious it was all quackery.

So, my verdict? It is definitely worth looking into cranial osteopathy in general for your baby, but not specifically as a cure for colic. I have a friend who’s a paediatric nurse and she’s just had a baby too (hello Alice!) and she took her little one to see an cranio specialist even though he wasn’t having any specific issues. She’s a diehard advocate of it AND a medical professional, so I really do trust her.

I do think there’s something in it – and it makes sense that when babies come out of the womb they are all squished up and awkward, which must cause all kinds of little niggles and aches that we aren’t privy too. In that instance, it makes sense then that as we grow, we ‘grow into’ our bodies and stretch out and these aches and pains gradually fade away. So I definitely recommend it if you’re a fan of alternative therapy – one thing is for sure, it won’t do any harm. And more than anything else, it’s just lovely to talk to an expert about your baby for an hour or so! The osteopath was far more knowledgeable than any health visitor we’ve seen, that’s for sure.

Read Part One of The Colic Diaries >

Read Part Two of The Colic Diaries >

BABY ON BOARD

The Colic Diaries: Colief and Comfort milk

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In my last post about colic, I talked about how we found using Infacol and Gripe Water. Once we realised these weren’t really touching the sides, we moved onto the big guns. First up, Colief.

Colief is a lactase enzyme that you put into baby’s milk (it works with breast milk and formula) to reduce the level of lactose in the milk. It works on the belief that colic is caused by a baby’s inability to digest lactose when they are tiny – until they are about three months old and their gut ‘matures’. (Nice). Up until then, they get bloating and IBS like symptoms thanks to not being able to digest lactose, and it’s this pain that makes them cry. Now, I don’t quite now how Colief works for breastfeeding mums, but for us, we simply warmed Daphne’s milk and put in four drops of this stuff half an hour before she needed to be fed. The warmth and the half an hour are required in order for the enzyme to do its job. Suffice to say, it was a bit of a faff.

We started using Colief when she was about six weeks old, I think. And we did see a big improvement in her wind – she definitely farted less and was much less ‘burpy’ after we started using it. We were quite pleased – it seemed to be helping and although she was still crying a lot at night, it was clear she was in much less pain than before.

However, Colief has one big downside – it costs a bloody fortune. It’s about £12 for a tiny bottle that lasted just over a week. We asked the GP if she would prescribe it for Daphne, but she refused. I think you can get it on prescription but it depends where you live whether your Primary Care Trust reckons it’s a medicine or not.

The other problem with Colief is sometimes we didn’t have half an hour’s warning before Daph wanted to be fed – and so it was all a bit hit and miss with whether the enzyme actually had time to work. After the occasional bottle left her crying and windy like before, we decided it would be easier and more consistent to move onto Comfort milk.

Comfort milk ostensibly does the same as Colief – it’s already had much of the lactose removed, and it’s also slightly thicker so it makes it harder for babies to gulp it, which means less wind. It says on the packet that it should only be used under medical advice, but I’m not sure anyone takes much notice of that.

I’d been putting off using Comfort milk, as I said before, because it only comes as a powder, not in ready-made bottles. So we had to start the whole palaver of sterilising the bottles and the powder and making it up with boiling water and leaving it to cool. Hence the acquisition of the wondrous Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep machine – which has done away with all this aggro and made it super easy to use.

The first time we gave Daphne Comfort milk, it was like some kind of magic drug – she fell asleep while drinking it, completely content and with no farting or burping or wriggling about. Sadly, this magic effect wore off after a couple of days, as she got used to the milk, but there’s been a 100% improvement in her digestion since we put her on it. In that sense, it’s been a bit of a miracle cure for us.

There are some downsides however. It makes Daphne’s poo avocado green, which is somewhat alarming, but more upsettingly, her poos now absolutely STINK. To the point that when we change a nappy, we pretty much have to fumigate the room afterwards. But it’s a small price to pay for a happier baby.

They say that when a baby reaches 3-4 months, their guts should have matured enough to be able to process lactose more easily, but I’m reluctant to change Daphne’s milk again, so we’re keeping her on the Comfort milk at least until she’s weaned.

Next week, in my final thrilling post about colic, I’ll talk about our experience with cranial osteopathy! Something to look forward to folks. The excitement! 😉

Read Part One of The Colic Diaries >

Read Part Three of The Colic Dairies >

BABY ON BOARD

The Colic Diaries: Infacol and Gripe Water

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Tiny Daph mid-colic session

Hello there! I’m afraid this post will probably only be interesting to you if you have a baby with colic, or if you are about to have a baby and are concerned he/she may get colic. If not, you’re probably better off skipping it as it’ll be a bit of a snorefest. You have been warned!

However, if your baby has colic, then please let me send you a massive great big bear hug across the internet, and tell you that it’s going to be OK. It really is. I promise. And don’t worry if you sometimes feel like you want to throw your baby out of a window. Or get in the car and drive a very very long way away from the NEVER ENDING NOISE. It’s normal. And you won’t (throw the baby out the window, or run away).

I had no idea what colic was until about three days after Daph was born, when I finally had time to rummage through the Bounty pack they give you when you leave hospital. In it was a leaflet all about Infacol, explaining what colic was. I remember reading it and thinking it didn’t sound too bad, and that it was good to know there was a ‘medicine’ that could take care of it. Ha!

Anyway for the first three weeks of her life Daph was pretty much a dream baby – she slept easily and often and although her waking times were unpredictable, she definitely slept well in the evenings, and we actually watched a bit of TV. Then at around three weeks, she started to get grumpy in the evenings. We noticed she was farting a lot, and always had a really tight tummy, but winding her was hard because she was so tiny. After a few days, the grumpiness turned into full-on crying sessions, with the typical arched back and legs they warn you about. It was then that I realised we were one of those ‘lucky’ one in five parents who have babies with colic.

No one seems to know exactly what colic is, or what causes it. Which seems ridiculous when you think they’ve been sending men into space since the 1960s. But anyway. Some people think it’s related to digestive issues, whereas others say it’s more about the baby’s brain development – there’s even a newish thing called ‘the period of purple crying‘ which is now being touted about to reassure parents (and to stop them throwing their babies out of windows). I have my own theories – but for us, Daph’s colic was definitely related to her digestion.

Colic is hideous. Forget waterboarding, stick a prisoner in a room with the soundtrack of a colicky baby’s cry and they’d give up their secrets in seconds. Daphne would cry and cry for around three hours every night, every day, starting at about 8pm, without fail. She would cry as though she was in pain, but would have momentary pauses where she’d suddenly be all happy again, before the crying restarted. Nothing we did could stop her crying. Feeding her, bathing her, massaging her, singing to her, bouncing her, rocking her, cuddling her. None of it made any difference. When she was crying she would also fart a lot – as though the farting hurt her. It was pretty horrific – probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to cope with.

Anyway, we tried so many things to help her, so I thought I’d do a series of posts about what we tried and what worked. First up: Infacol. This orange-flavoured syrupy substance apparently helps babies bring up wind by binding together all the trapped bubbles of air in their stomachs and making them easier to burp up in one go. It was the first thing we tried, and we used it religiously before every feed for two months. Did it help? I don’t know. We spoke to our GP about it and she said that its real value is in calming the parents down as they believe they are doing something to help. She seemed very dismissive of it. We stopped using it after about eight weeks and I can’t say that it made any difference when we gave it up. But by then, she was bigger and found burping easier. Daphne definitely liked it/the taste – and it always helped calm her down when we pipetted it into her mouth. So in that sense, I guess it had a soothing effect and was of some benefit.

As for Gripe Water – people have sworn by this for years. We only tried it a few times, mostly after she’d eaten and was screaming with wind, and again, it had the magical effect of distracting her for a few minutes. But otherwise, I think it did less than Infacol. It’s also a pain in the arse to administer as it doesn’t come with any kind of dropper device so you have to try to give it to the baby on a spoon, but it’s ridiculously sticky and goes everywhere. In the good old days when we were kids it had alcohol in it, and so it basically got your baby so drunk she feel asleep. Not sure why they had to take the alcohol out but probably something to do with the WHO or the EU spoiling everyone’s fun. Only kidding. Anyway I actually have half a bottle of it left so that shows you how little use it was for us.

If you have a baby with colic, I think both Gripe Water and Infacol are worth a try, but I do think what’s more important is trying to work out why your baby is crying. If it’s this ‘period of purple crying’ thing, then these are unlikely to have any effect, and really, you just have to ride it out (although I will say that not enough is said about overstimulating babies – why don’t they warn you that tiny babies’ brains can hardly cope with anything?!). However if it’s a more obvious digestion issue, then they may help. But what helped us more with that was Colief, of which I’ll write more in the next post…

Read Part Two of The Colic Diaries >

Read Part Three of The Colic Dairies >

BABY ON BOARD The Confessional

The truth about life with a newborn

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Your washing machine will always, ALWAYS be on.

Even though you had a girl and thought you were safe, your baby will still wee on you at every available opportunity. Especially right after her bath, and especially when you’ve just wrapped her in a clean towel.

The bottles always need washing. Even though you’re sure you just washed them all. Look! More dirty bottles! The dirty bottles cometh and keep cometh-ing!

Picking your newborn’s nose is a) something you will do; and b) more satisfying than picking your own.

You will be terrified of your baby overheating. Your bedroom will therefore now be colder than an igloo’s porch.

The first time your baby cries, it’s like a million arrows piercing your heart. By week two, it turns into white noise.

You thought that once you’d had a baby you wouldn’t care about your own appearance anymore. But you do. You’ll be pissed off that you’re fat. And pissed off that you have no time to do anything about it. And pissed off that biscuits are so readily available and CALLING YOU.

You’ll rarely get out of bed before Homes Under the Hammer finishes. If you do, it’ll feel like a massive achievement.

Percy Pigs = Percy Pick Me Ups.

You’ll go so mad being trapped in the house that going for a long walk around your incredibly boring neighbourhood will cheer you up no end.

While on said boring walk, you will cheerfully sing aloud to your baby without caring that you look like a crazy person to passersby.

Cutting your newborn’s fingernails will be the most traumatic part of your week.

You’ll never watch a TV programme from start to finish again. But you won’t really care either.

As soon as you serve up lunch/dinner, your newborn will decide that the world and everything in it is a truly disgusting place and launch an angry protest that will last at least an hour, by which time your food will be stone cold and your appetite non-existent.

You will secretly like the fact your baby smells of neck cheese. It will amuse you when you google neck cheese and discover ‘the only cure for neck cheese is growing a neck’.

Neck cheese is impossible to remove.

Baby vomiting is not only spectacularly impressive for one so small, it also comes with no warning and can hit you in the face.

Burping your newborn will become a competitive sport.

Everything you own will have dried milk, vomit, wee or poo on it.

Episodes of colic will make you question your (once robust) mental health.

You’ll know you have reached rock bottom when you turn to your partner and, through silent tears, whisper ‘Why didn’t we just get another cat?’

Everyone will buy you clothes that the baby ‘can grow into’ because they think everyone else will buy clothes that fit.

The (twisted) highlight of your day will be when your baby does a really huge poo.

If your daughter has a round face, she will look like Phil Mitchell when she does a huge poo. You will end up nicknaming her Phil Mitchell, and being full of regret.

You spend your whole time desperate for your baby to sleep. When she finally does, you’ll be so shocked you’ll then spend the whole time wondering if she’s still breathing.

Everyone was right about how hard it is. And everyone was right about how much you love the little bugger anyway.