Do Breastfed Babies Get Colic?

Do Breastfed Babies Get Colic?

Posted by Meghan Semple on

Colic occurs when a healthy baby screams for an extended period of time for no apparent reason. It is particularly prevalent in the first 6 weeks of life. It normally goes away on its own by the age of three to four months. It is possible that one in every four newborn babies has it. Although there is no known cause for colic, there are several breastfeeding-related conditions that may play a role in the symptoms. 

At babocush, we have pulled together a guide on what causes colic in babies, along with tips for getting through the first few months. 

Crying newborn baby

What Is Colic?

When your baby seems perfectly healthy, has no obvious signs of distress and yet cries continually, they may be suffering from colic. Colic is prolonged bouts of excessive, frequent crying for no apparent reason; some abdominal discomfort is thought to accompany it due to the way many babies draw their knees up when they cry which would indicate trapped wind. These episodes can be very distressing for both baby and parent, and can last for several weeks, but they usually go away by age 3 to 4 months.

Breast feeding baby

Why does your baby suffer from it?

There doesn’t seem to be any definitive reason for your baby to be suffering from colic, and as frustrating as that sounds, there are still ways you can manage a colicky baby. The first thing to do is look out for the signs and symptoms, which include:

  • Continual crying
  • Baby’s fists are clenched
  • Baby’s back is arched
  • Baby’s knees are drawn up to his or her stomach

What Can Cause Colic In Babies?

Mother's Diet & Breast Milk

Although the precise cause of colic is unclear, several factors are believed to play a role, including the maternal diet. Through your breast milk, the foods you eat find their way to your little one. Certain substances can cause a reaction or an allergy in some babies. The most popular perpetrators are cow's milk and dairy products, which may trigger digestive issues that result in colic or colic-like symptoms.

You can try to remove dairy products from your diet to see if the colic improves. Nuts, soy, eggs, caffeine, garlic, spicy foods and shellfish are all foods that your baby may react to. When you remove foods from your diet, allow up to a week for any changes to occur. Also inquire about probiotics with your doctor. Studies have shown that lactobacillus reuteri, a probiotic, has been shown to help alleviate colic in breastfed babies. 

You do not need to stop breastfeeding. It is not a cause of colic. Formula-fed babies get colic too, sometimes switching can even make the situation worse. However, here are some tips from Michigan State University that may help you and your baby when breastfeeding:

  • Limit your caffeine intake.
  • Drink plenty of water each day. 
  • If using artificial sweeteners, check with a registered dietitian on how much can safely be consumed each day.
  • Keep your energy up by eating at least three meals a day with additional small snacks. Avoid skipping meals if you can - we know this can be difficult when juggling life and a newborn.
  • Some babies also may become fussy with the consumption of gas-producing foods (broccoli, cabbage, beans, etc.). If you notice this you may want to substitute other vegetables and lean proteins into your diet.

Read more: Do Breastfed Babies Get Colic?

Overactive Let-Down

An overactive let-down may also be a cause of colic. When your milk flows rapidly and vigorously from your breast into your baby's mouth, they have to gulp at speed to keep up with the flow. When a baby is feeding, they’re also swallowing a lot of air. Gas and stomach pain can be caused by trapped air in the stomach and intestines.

You will alleviate the pressure in your breast and reduce the initial forceful let-down by pumping to withdraw a small amount of breast milk before you feed. Then, when your milk flow has decreased, you can start feeding your baby. Breastfeeding in a reclined position, such as lying on your back or sitting back in a chair, will also help to slow the flow of your breast milk.

Overabundant Supply

Colic may also be caused by an overabundance of breastmilk. Your baby could be consuming too much foremilk if you have an abundance of milk. The thinner milk that flows from the breast at the start of a feeding is known as foremilk. It has a higher lactose, or milk sugar, content. When a baby breastfeeds, the foremilk eventually converts into hindmilk, which is creamier and more filling.

However, if there is an overabundance of foremilk, the baby can consume it before receiving enough hindmilk. This is known as a foremilk-hindmilk imbalance, and it can result in gas, loose green bowel movements, and colic symptoms.

Breastfeeding from just one breast at a time will ensure that your baby receives both foremilk and hindmilk at each feeding. Your baby is more likely to get foremilk from both sides if you have an overabundant milk supply and swap breasts during feeding. 

However, if you only breastfeed on one breast the whole time, your child is more likely to hit the hindmilk as that breast is completely drained. If required, you can also pump from the other breast. 

Breast feeding baby

Coping with a baby who has colic

There is no clear remedy for colic since the exact cause is unknown. That isn't to suggest there isn't something you can do about it but keep in mind that what works for one baby might not work for another. Furthermore, what works one day might not work the next. Dealing with colic necessitates a certain amount of trial and error. Here are a few things you can do to help: 

  • Play white noise to your baby
  • Go easy on yourself
  • Burp your baby regularly
  • Hold your baby close and securely
  • Offer a pacifier
  • Reduce stimulation
  • Respond quickly
  • Swaddle
  • Use gentle movements

Read more: Help and Advice on Dealing With Infant Colic

How can the Babocush help relieve colic in babies?

Naturally, when your baby is upset and crying you want to hold them in your arms to soothe them, and while this is very beneficial, it’s not a very practical solution if you are required to do it for hours at a time.

The Babocush helps prevent colic by holding your baby securely just like you do, on their tummy and has the extra comfort of a gentle vibration and heartbeat sound for added relaxation. This means your baby can be strapped securely and comfortably into their Babocush cushion and it feels just as though you are holding them. This gives you the chance to catch your breath as well as them, as colic is exhausting for both parent and baby. When you can look after yourself, you’ll do the best job as a parent.

See the Babocush in action with baby Riley who suffered terribly with colic.

What’s next for my baby?

Babies cry. It’s how they communicate. But, when your baby cries uncontrollably, and nothing you do can console them, it can be frustrating, stressful, and heartbreaking. All of these feelings are normal. Colic isn’t your fault (or your baby's), and you’re not a bad parent. In fact, many other parents are in the same boat.

You can only do what you can to try to soothe your child. They know you are there for them. Remind yourself to stop and take a break when you need it. It may seem like it’s never going to get better. And, when you're in the thick of it, a few weeks can feel like years. But, thankfully, colic does go away, sometimes as suddenly as it arrived. You’ll get there. It just takes a little time, love, and patience!

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