Hello all! I’ve finally found a few minutes to clickity-clack away on my keyboard while my bouncy baby boy Matthew coos away under his jungle gym. The past 8 weeks have been a whirlwind of exciting milestones, emotions and sleepless nights. Part of this journey has been breastfeeding and colic. Horrible, gassy, screaming, make mommy-want-to-cry colic. The dietitian and (formerly) mom-on-the-brink of insanity in me was excited finding solutions to this exhausting predicament and wanted to share.
Initially I had some difficulty with breast-feeding at the hospital. The kid would not stay awake long enough get anything at the breast and had problems latching. The lactation consultants at the hospital were amazing, and I strongly recommend taking full advantage of them if they are available where you deliver. My milk came in around day 3, and aside from the sleepiness issue, things were smooth sailing. That is, until week 3.
At week 3, feedings suddenly turned into a screaming battle. Getting my little one to stay at the breast longer than a couple minutes was a task. He would gasp, swallow air, tug on the breast, and have horrendous difficulty passing gas and getting up his gnarly burps. The crying spells seemed endless. All the articles I read stated colic most commonly occurs at night, but this was all day long. I was seriously concerned and mentally and physically exhausted. Seeing him suffer was ripping me up inside. My pediatrician had recommended Gripe Water containing ginger and fennel. After trying it for a couple of weeks I realized it was giving him horrendous diaper rash. We stopped and it cleared right up. I cut out all dairy and switched to almond milk. I avoided cruciferous vegetables. No difference. Finally after one intense day of son and mommy crying, I took him back into the pediatrician for help.
I met with the physician assistant there who checked him over and stated he was gaining adequate weight (much to my surprise with the short feedings). We discussed everything that I had already been doing. Then she gave me some additional advice which I later would find was pure gold.
“Try a nipple shield,” she said, to which my reaction was, “huh??”. A nipple shield I thought was most commonly used for latching problems or sore nipples. She explained that it sounded like I had an overactive let-down and he could not keep up at this point, leading to the gasping, gulping of air and thus, the worsening of gas. This theory had crossed mind before and I had tried pumping before each feeding to help, but this did not always work and actually stimulated increased milk production. The silicone nipple shield, however, works in slowing the flow, preventing me from blasting the poor kid. I went to Target afterwards and bought one, Medela brand. On the first try, I was amazed. Matthew was calm, fed for a record-breaking 20 minutes, and did not fuss afterwards. I was stunned but ecstatic. My husband now refers to it as the “bionic nipple.”
If you are having similar feeding problems there are some things to consider before trying a nipple shield. It is meant to be a short-term solution and should be used under the guidance of your pediatrician or lactation specialist. Potential problems include delivering less milk or clogged ducts if used incorrectly. While using, keep an eye on your baby’s weight and number of wet/dirty diapers to make sure he is on track. Clean in hot, soapy water and rinse thoroughly after every use and sanitize once daily.
For us, the shield has been of great help until Matthew grows a bit bigger and can keep up with my supply on his own. The colic is not entirely gone, and there are definitely still crying spells with gas, but they are fewer and much more manageable than before. Another God-send are simethicone drops. We use Little Remedies Gas Relief Drops right before feeding and it makes a difference. We tried the holistic approach with Gripe Water first, but as I mentioned earlier, it just did not work for Matthew.
I hope that any new moms out there who awesomely serve as their angel’s main source of nutrition may come across this and find it somewhat helpful in their journey! Here are a couple of resources to check out:
P.S. — It sadly took me all day to complete this post and most of it was typed with one hand! Tis the life of mothering an 8 week old! 🙂
P.P.S — Is your little one beginning solids? Check out my post on Baby Nutrition.