Nobody really knows why colic happens in babies though it is generally defined as where the baby will have crying spells about two to three weeks after birth. It usually happens in the evenings and tends to stop after two or three months. Babies with colic tend to cry uncontrollably even though you probably feel that you have tried everything possible to try and soothe him. In order for a baby to be considered colicky he must be gaining weight and be otherwise healthy. Although, even if your baby is gaining weight it is possible that he may still be hungry. There are many reasons why breastfed babies may develop colic and some small changes to your breastfeeding routine may help reduce the symptoms.
Using both breasts at each feeding
One reason for a colicky breastfed baby can be; using both breasts at each feeding or using only one breast at each feeding. Breastmilk changes during a feed and in general the amount of fat increases as your baby drains more milk from the breast. If the mother switches the baby from one breast to the other before the baby finishes the first side, this may result in the baby not getting enough fat and may need to feed more often. If a baby takes in a lot of milk, this may cause him to spit up. The low calorie content in the milk will cause the stomach to empty too quickly and a large amount of lactose will arrive in the intestines at once. This can cause the baby to experience symptoms such as crying, gas and watery, green bowel movements, not unlike lactose intolerant babies. The baby needs to be allowed to finish breastfeeding from one breast at a time.
It is also important not to time feedings as babies need to be allowed to finish feeding from one breast completely. The baby should be allowed to feed for as long as he is getting milk from the breast or until he falls asleep. If the baby is still hungry after finishing one breast then offer the other breast. It is a good idea to start on the other side at the next feeding.
Overactive letdown reflex
The final reason that a baby may become colicky due to breastfeeding is if they are getting too much milk too quickly which is called overactive letdown reflex. This will cause your baby to choke and splutter after a few minutes of breastfeeding. This can cause him to become fussy and in certain cases he will begin to refuse the breast. In order to help this, you need to ensure you have the best latch possible as the baby needs to be well latched onto the breast. Feed your baby before he becomes very hungry as this may cause him to attack the breast which can cause overactive letdown reflex. Feeding your baby in a relaxed environment will also help. Another thing you can try to pacify a breastfed baby with colic is to remove dairy products from your own diet, one product at a time. All dairy products should be eliminated for 7 to 10 days. If after this time there is no significant improvement mum can start to reintroduce dairy products.
Perhaps, the most important thing to remember about colic is that it won’t last for ever and even though the nights may seem endless now in a few short weeks it will all be over.