The oh-so dreaded colic. How do you know if ones baby has colic, you may ask? You will know. High pitched screams for hours on end, rocking your baby with a soft soothing touch to no avail, and the pain that seems to seep through those screams, you will know.
From a holistic perspective, when working with colic you must take in all aspects of health that could be contributing factors. Most often, we look to the foods. What are we eating or drinking that is causing this distress? And what can I do to end this madness? But there is much more than just the food. Holistic nutrition embodies ALL influences. Here are a few of the most common.
- The baby could be reacting to your diet, as food allergies/sensitivities are common in infants. Don’t worry, these foods are often only problematic for a short period of time. Common trigger foods are tomatoes, chocolate, coffee/caffeine, dairy, spicy foods, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, collards, onions, garlic, peppers, and sometimes nuts and grains. I have also seen a few cases where cucumbers, eggs, and beans were the culprit. The underlying message would be, while these are the most common culprits, it could be anything. Keep a food journal, be specific, and start to notice if you see any patterns. Your body will speak to you, just be patient and present enough to listen.
- Your baby is developing a digestive tract, virtually bare at birth, and may simply be lacking the beneficial microbes to digest & assimilate your breast milk. Eat fermented foods everyday, with every meal if possible. The beneficial microbes are transported through your breast milk and help to build up a healthy gut for your little one. There are probiotics designed especially for infants that you can buy at your local health food coop. You can swab the probiotics in the baby’s mouth or put them on your nipple and your baby will ingest the microbes through breastfeeding.
- Stress is a well known cause of digestive disorders, and stress comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. This could be physical stress, reacting to a stressful environment, mental stress… The list goes on and on. Transitioning from a warm & cozy womb life to life on the outside world can be a bit stressful, no matter what. Nervine Herbs (herbs that help support the nervous system) are great additions to help reduce stress and calm the nerves. Lavender is a wonderfully calming nervine herb that is safe for you to drink as tea while breastfeeding. You can also dilute pure, organic lavender essential oil into some coconut oil and rub on baby’s feet or belly. 1 drop of essential oil per 1 oz of coconut oil, and a little goes a long way.
- The birthing process can be long, and the baby’s head/neck can often be crammed into undesirable positions, resulting in nerves/spine being a little out of whack. Cranial sacral work is a must! Cranial-Sacral Therapy is a form of gentle bodywork, using soft therapeutic touch to manipulate the joints of the cranium, yielding unbelievable results. For referrals to our favorite cranio-therapists, please call Thrive’s front desk and we will get you connected!
- There is always the possibility that baby may be taking in too much air as she eats. Learning about infant tummy massage can be a great tool, and is nice even after gas issues go away. Babies THRIVE with touch. In addition to aiding with colic, massage can help to enhance growth, promote optimal nervous system development, and support immune health.
- Support your digestive system with herbs that ease gas, also known as carminatives, as well as herbs that will SOOTHE the digestive tract. Drinking fennel tea is a great place to start. Dill, caraway, anise, slippery elm, lemon balm, lavender, and catnip are all also great herbs to use.
Be kind to yourself and breathe. Know you are doing an amazing job and take time to nourish yourself.
~Tessa Mancini Gillen, our beloved nutritionist, herbalist, educator and creator of Mama’s Meals on Wheels, a home delivery service for highly nutritious postpartum meals for the whole family. Please call our front desk to inquire about any or all of her services!