Transcript: How to Relieve Colic in a Newborn Naturally Using Baby Massage
This is a text transcript from The First Time Mum’s Chat podcast. The episode is called How to Relieve Colic in a Newborn Naturally Using Baby Massage and you can click on the link to view the full episode page, listen to the episode and view the show notes.
In this week’s episode, I want to share some natural and valuable tips about colic that I have picked up from many years as a childcare educator, and more recently as an infant massage instructor. Colic is a tough time for both parent and baby. There are many, many natural things you can do to ease your baby’s colic. But first, let me ask you this. Does your baby have gas or colic? This is a question that many parents ask. We all know that a baby cries if they want something or if they’re upset, but when your baby has painful gas, especially if it is frequent, it can cause your baby to cry or become fussy until it passes, whilst colic not only causes fussiness and crying, but it lasts for hours across days and weeks, and usually at certain times of the day.
The causes of colic is unknown, but theories include immaturity of the bowel, food allergies, an immature digestive system, a stomach pain that is the result of crying rather than the cause, an immature nervous system, which causes a baby to tense up in response to normal external stimulation. Each of these theories with others, is still being researched today since there is no factual evidence on what is the exact cause of colic.
There is no easy solution to help parents ease or comfort their baby through an episode.
It is important to know that colic is a common condition in young babies. It will go away on its own, often by age 3 months, and in some cases it can go on up until 6 months. I know that seems like a long time, and it can be so stressing when you are a mum and your baby’s got colic but hang in there.
I am often asked by parents, how do I know if my baby has colic? This is a difficult question to answer as each baby is different, and it’s important to get your baby checked out by a medical practitioner If you have any concerns. From my own experience through my training as a childcare educator and infant massage instructor, I have observed that a baby who is not only crying but screaming with a painful expression or crying for no apparent reason, unlike crying to express hunger or the need for a nappy /diaper change, or extreme fussiness, even after crying has diminished and predictable timing with episodes, often occurring in evening is more likely to have colic rather than gas, and one of the things that parents have shared with me, is that their infants had bowel movements more than 10 times a day or hardly at all, and that the stools were green, explosive and foul smelling.
There are several things you can try to ease your baby’s discomfort, but please remember that your baby’s digestive system is still developing and it may just need a little time to mature. If you have any concerns about your baby’s overall health, please seek medical advice. A few things that have worked for me when I have dealt with colicky babies is to try feeding them in an upright position, encourage tummy time (and I have done an episode on tummy time before and I will link this into the show notes), make sure you burp them, I know this is common sense, but it is important to remember some babies need a little bit more encouragement to burp and you can burp them sitting up or you can burp them on your shoulder. There are different ways you can do that. You will get to know which way your baby likes to burp and white noise can be useful. For example, holding your baby next to a low rhythmatic noise, like the sound of a washing machine or a fan, can be very soothing. I’ve also found that lying your baby across your knee helps to ease their tummy. This can also be included in a tummy time and a baby massage routine as well.
One of the things that I highly recommend you do before any massage or calming techniques with your baby, if they have colic or anything, is that you relax as well because your baby picks up on your energy and it’s really important that you are calm.
So this is a quick routine that I like to do before I start any massage, and I encourage any mom to do the same thing. Sit in a comfortable position, back relatively straight. Your eyes can be open or closed. Breathe out, relaxing all the air from your lungs. Now slowly breathe in through your nose to a count of 1, 2, 3, 4, and slowly release the air from your lungs at the same rate. When you are ready, just allow your eyes to open and focus on your baby. This will also help your baby to relax so you can get started with the massage.
A massage routine can help in a number of ways. It helps eliminate wind from your baby’s body, it helps to produce the feel good hormones, to help your baby to relax and reduce the levels of stress. It can help to mature the digestive system and the nervous system by helping to tone the digestive track and aid in the process of myelination of nerve cells for better brain and body communication.
Most importantly, baby massage offers an opportunity to listen, observe, and communicate. I can’t stress this one enough because as a childcare educator, I know how important it is to listen, observe, and communicate with our baby and in my baby massage courses, I teach you ways to find out what your baby is communicating and how you can get to know your baby’s cues.
This is one of the main things to do when your baby is in pain, and instinctively we all do it when our child is suffering. Another thing that baby massage helps with, is it helps your baby to feel secure and it’s a great way to bond and connect with your baby. The skin to skin may also help to soothe and reassure your baby and the tummy massage strokes that we do in baby massage helps to compress the abdomen and releases trapped wind and it stretches the lower back, which is a great way to help ease all those tummy and gas pains and wind pains in the tummy.
Did you know that massaging your baby’s feet can be very calming, and it is something you can do when you are relaxing at home, or if you are just giving your baby a cuddle or if you’re feeding your baby. Just giving a massage on your baby’s foot is so calming. One of my favorite moves in massage is to rub the center of the baby’s foot, and it is very calming and gentle. It is linked to the solar plexus, which serves many organs in the body.
Here are a few strokes that you can try. One is called the lift and stroke. Lifting the legs by the ankles and gently stroking down the tummy with the side of your hand is a great thing to do cuz it compresses the abdomen, helps induce relaxation of the tummy, and it helps with bowel movements and trapped wind and it’s great for c onstipation. The other one is paddling and it can also be called scooping the sand and how we do this is stroking down the tummy with the sides of our hand, as if we’re scooping the sand, starting from the navel and scooping down the tummy. You can paddle or you can scoop, either or. The final one that I want to share with you is Row Row and how we do this is we hold the legs by the ankles and gently rocking the knees into the tummy and out again, and you can sing a song with that. I always encourage parents to sing and communicate with their children and that helps with wind, constipation and encourages movement, relaxes tummy muscles and it gently stretches the lower back. Parents who come to my classes have told me on numerous occasions that baby massage has helped their baby. I hope this has been beneficial to you and has given you some practical tools to assist you with colic.
The colic relief sequence is another excellent way to help your little one through colic, and I teach parents how to incorporate this simple to follow routine in my baby massage classes. If you prefer, my Colicky Baby 101 online self-paced mini course takes you through the process, using simple to follow videos and written PDFs. Not only can it provide much needed relief, so you can experience less crying, less stress, and have a happier, more contented little one and household, it will also help closen your bond with your baby. I’ve included links to these as well as my Instagram page, which contains further resources in the show notes, which can be accessed at MyBabyMassage.net/podcast/095.