Sunday, 11 March 2012

My Gassy Little Monster

In the last few days my poor 3 week old baby has started getting really gassy, to the extent that he struggles to go down to sleep and will lie there grizzling for hours at a time. I'm sure I don't need to tell you that this is really distressing, particularly during the witching hour when the grizzles turn into all-out wails.

I'm not ruling out taking him to the doctor if it continues but I've got a feeling they will tell me it's colic. I know I'm not an expert on these things but I don't really believe in the concept of colic. I'm a big believer in everything-happens-for-a-reason and I genuinely think that if my baby is crying inconsolably, there has to be a reason other than 'well 3 week old babies just do that'. And hopefully there is a solution too.

I know that other people have trodden this path before me and there is evidence that, with persistance, you can find out the cause of your baby's unhappiness. I think the problem is that pinning it down is extremely difficult.

In Josh's case, I'll bet my bottom dollar that his screams are due to gas up until the point where this has caused him to be overtired and then there is just no fixing it! But what is causing the gas? Some theories that I want to explore:

  1. Overactive letdown - It wasn't until I had scoured the web for a little bit that I discovered some good information on overactive letdown (when the letdown of your breast milk is too forceful/quick, causing gulping, spluttering etc as baby is unable to drink fast enough). Oversupply is a very similar problem and there is an excellent article about it on the La Leche website which really helped me. For me, this was the most likely issue as my poor baby often has to drop on and off during the letdown, causing him to gulp air and splutter. 
  2. Reflux - I'm not too clear on the clinical difference between 'colic' and reflux so I won't attempt to comment on this. As far as I know, diagnosis of this condition is only based on the description of symptoms which can also occur from other things so I really wanted to eliminate everything else first.
  3. Intolerance to something in my diet. Common offenders seem to be:
    • Cow's milk - If necessary, I'll try cutting this out of my diet but it will be the last thing I try, not least because the calcium is so important.
    • Caffeine - This is a definite possibility as I am a guilty consumer of coffee, tea and chocolate. There is an interesting article on this here
    • Gas-producing foods including beans, brocolli etc - Again, very possible but difficult to pin down as there are so many potentially gassy foods.
  4. A bad latch - When I saw a breastfeeding specialist earlier in the week, she pointed out a couple of possible improvements to the way that I help my baby latch on and that the way I have been doing it may have caused him to take more air in.
As of completing this post, Josh has had 2 days of significant improvement. The three things I've changed most significantly have been:

  • When Josh unlatches during the letdown, I mop up the excess/spurting milk before letting him back on which seems to reduce the amount of gulping of air
  • I'm more focussed on not just a comfortable latch but the right latch to ensure baby can drink without gulping. I'm pretty sure this is helping as there is a better seal around his mouth now.
  • I've cut almost all caffeine from my diet for the last few days. If the improvement is sustained, I'll try reintroducing some caffeine because the above things may have done the trick.
So many parents pull their hair out over issues of gas or colic that I really wanted to collect some of the most common causes in one place. I hope this post helps you and all the best for getting through these first few months! X

1 comment:

  1. Excellent blog post. I found alcohol, garlic and chilli that I ate could also unsettle my daughter a little.