As a first time mum, I had never even heard of the term colic before I had my little girl in 2019. I didn’t really know what it was or the impact it could have. Looking back now, I wish this was something that was spoken about more in antenatal classes so that I could have prepared myself for what was to come. I hope that by sharing my experience of colic and things that were helpful for us, it will support other local parents in surviving colic too.
My little girl was about 3 weeks old when we noticed something wasn’t quite right. She cried A LOT. It was utterly draining. I found it difficult to be out anymore as I felt I was being judged for having a baby who was really unsettled, particularly as a first time mum and feeling that I was still learning the ropes and finding nothing that I tried seemed to be helping her. We noticed the crying was particularly bad from 5pm-8pm. She was inconsolable and would often be bringing her legs up to her chest and generally seemed really uncomfortable. I found myself dreading what we termed “colic o clock”. My husband would come home from work and just find me in tears trying my best to comfort our baby. It was heart breaking hearing and seeing her in so much distress.
I remember feeling really alone during this time. All my friends with children were not experiencing this with their babies so I found that no one could relate to what I was going through. This made me question more whether this was something that I was doing wrong as a parent. If you feel like this, please know that you are absolutely not alone. There are lots of parents who are finding colic really hard to manage and that’s ok. It’s normal to want this to be over and I promise you that one day you will look back in admiration for the strength and courage you showed in getting through this.
These are the things that made my life with a colicky baby a lot easier:
Sling / baby carrier
This was definitely my number one investment! I didn’t have a clue where to start with slings, and would really recommend getting in touch with the Northampton Sling Library. They were honestly so kind and helpful and understanding. I am definitely going to get back in touch with them when we have our next baby. You can arrange a 1:1 consultation or (Pre-COVID) they offer drop in sessions. I opted for a 1:1 consultation, more so because I had a lot I wanted to explain with my little girl’s colic, and was worried I wouldn’t have enough time in a drop in. They brought a variety of slings for me to test out and then you have the option to hire one for a month before you decide if you would like to purchase one. I vividly remember my little girl right in the middle of her worst time with colic and as soon as I put her in the sling, she settled instantly. It was like a miracle. It was a life saver. It helped so much by keeping her close to me and upright and meant my husband and I could enjoy an evening meal together without having to take it turns to console a really unhappy baby. So definitely consider a sling!
Baby massage classes were also really helpful! Obviously at the moment not a lot of classes are running, but I would definitely do an online search and see if there are any massages you can find online or if companies are doing virtual classes. I learnt a lot of tummy massages that really helped to ease the pain my little girl was in. I found that by doing these massages at every nappy change helped to ease the colic periods throughout the day. I would also recommend looking into the “tiger in the tree hold”. This particular way of holding your baby is also something that helped to settle my little girl when she was struggling with colic.
Seek professional support and advice
I found reaching out to my health visitor about colic a really positive experience. She was interested to know what was happening and offered some suggestions of what might help (including those options already discussed). Something she mentioned which I hadn’t thought of previously was a potential dairy intolerance as I was breast feeding. I did do a period of time dairy free to see if this made a difference. For us, it didn’t help, but for some people they might find this eases things. But definitely discuss it further with your health visitor.
As well as advice, I found it helpful just to be able to talk about colic and how hard it was. It was important for me to have someone to listen to me in a non-judgemental way and I feel my health visitor did a really good job at this.
Finally, as we were continuing to struggle with colic despite putting a lot of things into practice, my health visitor recommended self-referring to a cranial osteopath. In Northampton this is accessed through the Maple Tree Clinic. Unfortunately it isn’t available on the NHS so it is a service that you need to pay for. But in my opinion it is well worth the money. I made an enquiry on their website and someone got back in touch with me to arrange an appointment. We had 2 sessions with the osteopath and the difference after the first session was incredible! Similarly to the sling, it was like I had a different baby and I felt I could start to enjoy being a parent again. I found out from speaking to my health visitor and the clinic, that sometimes how baby sits in the womb, your labour and the birth you had are all factors that can impact colic. I didn’t know this and this insight helped me to understand that I was not to blame and it was nothing I had done wrong. In my situation, I had a very long labour and was at the pushing stage for about 5 hours. I ended up with a forceps delivery. I was advised the length of time I was in labour and pushing, resulted in my little girl’s right side becoming compressed and this was contributing to the colic. I found it really interesting and empowering to know this information.
Colic is really hard to deal with. You feel pushed to your limits as a parent. But, there is advice and support out there. You will come out the other side! I really hope my experiences of managing and surviving colic can help you too.