I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… Breastfeeding is not always rainbows and butterflies. In fact, sometimes its just plain hard and mentally and physically draining. If your child has acid reflux or has colic, breastfeeding can become a tiring task where you constantly question what you are doing. Both of my daughters had a colicky 3 week period from 4-7 weeks where they would scream for 3-4 hours a night. They were happy the whole day and then night time would come and BAM a screaming baby. According to babycenter, a baby is considered Colic if they scream for 3-4 hours in a row for at least three weeks. So I guess my daughters just qualify for having some colic (Yay, me!). The only time in those witching hours they were quiet was when they were nursing. But they would both fight nursing for a handful of reasons. Part of this ‘colicky’ behavior came on because I was so engorged and when they latched it would spray in their mouth and then they would choke, cough and spit up.
Naturally, as a 20-something mom my baby’s behavior led me to googling for hours on how to nurse my baby while they are screaming their heads off and then spitting up. Colic drops, acid reflux meds, formula and diet changes were all suggested. But what I really found was that many babies go through a fussy period from 4-8 weeks. While I attempted some of these the bottom line was ‘This Too Shall Pass’ (is that not the motto of motherhood?).
So, what does breastfeeding a colic or fussy baby look like? CHAOS and DESPERATION.
Your house is a mess, dishes have been in the sink all day, your floor is covered in crumbs, and nursing pads and burp cloths are laying around everywhere starting to get the gross old milk smell.. (You know what I’m talking about). You haven’t slept well in weeks and your clothes are covered in breastmilk, spit up and whatever you tried to eat while the baby finally slept on you. But really, whats the point in changing shirts when baby is just going to spit up on you again in 10 minutes? Your meals are gluten, dairy, and gassy food free because you are sure its your milk making baby’s stomach upset. You are desperate. You are wondering where the perfect sleep, poop, and eat baby has gone. I promise the happy all the time baby comes back. After that hard 2-4 week stretch its gets so much better. Pretty soon they will be sitting and playing with toys! Pretty soon you will be having baby fever again (maybe).
So, what helps during the Colic time?
a) Trying crazy nursing positions Nursing a colic baby is an art form. With my first daughter I had to nurse her standing straight up and down and hold her so she was straight up and down and be bouncing for her to latch. With my second I had to lay completely flat because I had such a over supply of milk. If someone walked in during these nursing escapades they would have been quite confused. But it worked it calmed my babies right down.
b) Swaddling Swaddling worked wonders on calming down both of my girls during their three week colic period.
c) Noise All the noise. If a childless person or a parent of a totally peaceful baby came in during those weeks and heard the amount of music, white noise and singing that was going on they would be concerned. But it works! Babies love noise!
d) Babywearing My daughters practically lived in their Bjorn and Boba Wrap those three weeks. I would have kept then in there 24/7 if it didn’t hurt my back! With my first I mastered the technique of putting my daughter asleep in the wrap, then laying down on my bed and unwrapping it so she was asleep on my chest without the wrap. It’s amazing what you can do when you’re desperate enough for sleep.
e) Vibrating Chair We went through probably 20 D batteries on our precious vibrating chair that would give us a moment of peace in this chaotic period. Some times you need to put the baby down. At night I would put my oldest in this next to bed and leave it vibrating so I could sleep for an hour.
e) Grey’s Anatomy Natalie, my youngest, would scream from 8-12 every night like clock work unless I was up walking and bouncing her. My husband framed our entire basement in those fussy weeks and I watched all 11 season of Grey’s Anatomy to keep me sane. You do what you have to do.
Bottom line is that you’re doing great. It’s normal for babies to go through a fussy period and it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong with your breastmilk. After this fussy time your breastfeeding relationship grows and grows. This Too Shall Pass. Until they bite around 8 months… well thats another blog post and it passes too.