Monday, November 03, 2008


We have it.
Or maybe I should say "colic", since the word is very loosely thrown around.
About 3 weeks ago Fiona started acting fussy, albeit not very fussy, but a definite change in personality for her nonetheless. My first instinct was that it was due to more milk in my diet, since I could logically link the two and the timing fit. With Bella I didn't change a thing about my diet except to eliminate caffeine, and I naively assumed I would have the same good fortune this time. She got very,very gassy, a hard and tight abdomen, spitting up, etc. Then as it persisted I came to the conclusion that it was reflux as she exhibits every symptom. Bella had reflux, but only suffered the profuse spitting up and none of the discomfort. I went to the family doctor, he agreed it sounded like reflux and prescribed Zantac. I was happy if only because it meant I didn't have to deprive myself of any delicious dairy products, and hopefully her discomfort would soon be alleviated. Now I'm not so sure. With the wonders of the internet I found that 2 other 'conditions' seem to aptly describe this as well. So I'm looking at reflux (or GERD), an intolerance to dairy products, or overactive letdown reflex. Hmm. Let's review.

Overactive Letdown Reflex

A baby who gets too much milk too quickly, may become very fussy, very irritable at the breast and may be considered "colicky". Typically, the baby is gaining very well. Typically, also, the baby starts nursing, and after a few seconds or minutes, starts to cough, choke or struggle at the breast. He may come off, and often, the mother's milk will spray. After this, the baby frequently returns to the breast, but may be fussy and repeat the performance. He may be unhappy with the rapid flow, and impatient when the flow slows. This can be a very trying time for everyone. On rare occasions, a baby may even start refusing to take the breast after several weeks, typically around three months of age.


Gets milk too quickly: check.

Very irritable at the breast: check.

Coughing, choking, struggling: check.

Because of all of the struggling, it usually results in gulping and swallowing air, resulting in the gassiness and fussiness. Another thing to consider is that she eats better from a bottle, which would seem to support the overactive letdown reflex.

Foreign Proteins in the mother's milk

It has been shown that some proteins present in the mother's diet may be excreted into her milk and may affect the baby. It would seem that the most common of these is cow's milk protein. Other proteins have also been shown to be excreted into some mothers' milk. The fact that these proteins and other substances appear in the mother's milk is not necessarily a bad thing. Indeed, it is good.

Thus, in the treatment of the colicky breastfed baby, one step would be for the mother to stop taking dairy products. These includes milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream and anything else which may contain milk. When the milk protein has been changed (denatured), as in cooking for example, there should be no problem.

Breastfed babies who are sensitive to dairy in mom's diet are sensitive to specific cow's milk antibodies, in the form of proteins (not lactose), which pass into the mother's milk. Cow's milk (either in the mother's diet or engineered into formula) is a common source of food sensitivity in babies. Cow's milk sensitivity or allergy can cause colic-like symptoms, eczema, wheezing, vomiting, diarrhea (including bloody diarrhea), constipation, hives, and/or a stuffy, itchy nose.


It can cause all of the same gastrointestinal discomfort, causing the 'colicky' behavior. Other symptoms I have read about include a rash,congestion and mucus, all of which she has.

So...the symptoms fit for 3 different conditions. Since I have a hunch about the dairy I am first trying to eliminate it from my diet. Oh dee. I'm on day 2. I'm also going to include chocolate in my abstinence because I'm worried about that too. Double dee.

My primary concern is for her comfort, because she is obviously in pain, but I cannot deny how frustrating it is to deal with a colicky baby. 24/7. It is not confined to nighttime fussiness, although it seems at it's peak then. Last night I only slept when I took her into bed with us. Today she was only happy while being held. It is not seeming to lift either...

Not helping the situation is that with my hands constantly unavailable, nothing is getting done around here. Since I'm also potty training (yay!) I haven't left the house in 3 days. I haven't gotten ready in 3 days. I have no social outlet or break from the girls. When Timm gets home, he is great to help as much as possible, but that still leaves me with the entire day, all night long while everyone else is asleep, and much of the evening. The house is a mess, laundry is all over the house, I haven't eaten real food in days, I smell like sour milk... As of tonight I am officially frustrated. My inability to be productive while being cooped up in the house that is in disarray due to my non-productivity is getting me down. When will I be able to get anything done? When will my house be comfortably clean again? When will I get a full night's rest? When will she stop crying and be happy and healthy again?

This doesn't paint the clearest picture, because I have actually been feeling very good since Fiona's birth. I am adjusting much better than I thought I was capable of and have been very proud of my state of mind and stress management. That is all a post I have been meaning to articulate for some time, and still will. But right now, I'm repeating "It's only a phase.... an indefinite phase, but a phase all the same."


Denise said...

Sorry you're so frustrated. It really is "only a phase," and "this, too, shall pass." It doesn't always help in the moment, but on those rare occasions when you can step back and look at the bigger picture, it does.

Amy S. said...

Have I commented on your blog before? Well, I don't know how I ever found you but I do pop in from time to time!;)
Reading this post sounds like just my experience with all three of my children! And I hate that each time, it has been trial and error! They ALL have had acid reflux and Prevacid which worked wonders for us but not for everyone I've heard.
The dairy thing, been there too, I found that my first two couldn't tollerate soy protein as well. (and eliminated both dairy and soy from my diet! ;( ) I'm mean, can't breast feeding be "natural"? Not for me. And for the third, I ate whatever I wanted and concluded for her, it was gas. They all out grew the fussiness by three to four months.
To try to help my third eliminate the gas and tummy pains, I would pump out the first fast milk (like 1/2 and oz) then feed her. She stopped choking and pulling off. I know it helped with less gas. And I would make sure to get a full feeding at every feeding and not "demand" feed her so her tummy could rest between feedings.

I'm so sorry to offer so much advice but I feel your pain! It feels like you will never get beyond this point. And all you want to do is enjoy every moment with your newborn. So just hang in there and do what YOU need to do to get by! My motto, Time and Season! You'll get there! Best of luck!

Melissa said...

I seemed to have the too much milk to fast problemo too, but with my first child. I read that you could express some milk before offering your baby your breast, as to lesson the amount of milk coming out later. Try it if you and the baby can stand it.

michelle said...

Double dee! Poor Fiona, what happened to the happiest baby in the world? Poor you, dealing with an uncomfortable baby and potty training at the same time is bound to drive any mom to distraction.

I like the advice you got here about expressing first. Did you give that a try? It sounds promising. Pray!

Serin said...

My two cents ...

1) Invest in a baby sling/wrap, preferably one you can try out in the store. You can then carry her around all day AND have two hands.

2) I decided with #3 and #4 that my sleep was top priority, so I brought the baby to bed with me. He wakes up, I latch him on and we fall back to sleep. I LOVE it! And I know he won't be sleeping with me forever. ;)

2.5) Mylicon (or the generic brand) is my friend. You can't OD on it and I would give a dose before every feeding when they would get gas pains like that. I think what all "colic" boils down to is an immature digestive system.

Good luck!

Diana said...

sorry Jessie. I don't know much about colic(fortunately) I wish I could help, even just to live close enough to hold Fionna to relieve you.

Jill said...

This sounds very grim. I feel for you and hope this phase passes quickly.

It looks like you got a couple commenters with great advice.

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