Cramps and winds
Just a little bit of wind trapped in his gut can cause your newborn much discomfort. What can you do to help?
WHILE HE’S FEEDING on the breast or bottle, your baby swallows air that then gets trapped and causes discomfort, burping, flatulence, cramps and even crying.
Some babies suffer severely from wind, while others hardly suffer at all. If your baby is suffering from wind, he will probably stop suckling. This is because the trapped air is making him feel full before he has actually drunk enough milk to satisfy his appetite. He could even cry, have a pained expression on his face, or squirm and grimace if you try to lay him down after a feed. Luckily you can help make him more comfortable.
Position is important. Whether you’re bottle or breastfeeding, keep your baby’s head higher than his stomach. This way the milk sinks to the bottom of the stomach while the air goes to the top so it’s easier to burp out.
WHEN IS WIND A PROBLEM?
Sometimes winds and abdominal cramping could be a sign of gastrointestinal problems. If your baby has the following symptoms have him checked out by a doctor:
Although these are both quite common in babies, they could indicate an underlying issue. A big clue for this would be a change in your baby’s stools – suddenly changing consistency or frequency (meaning he is either having a lot more or a lot fewer bowel movements). Remember that newborns can go a few days without soiling their nappies and they make what may sound like grunting noises as a matter of course, so the most reliable indication of constipation right now is small, hard, round stools that look a lot like pellets.
If your baby is usually calm and content and suddenly becomes fractious and won’t eat or sleep, something else could be up. Have a look at what we’ve said on colic. If you think your baby may have colic, always get him checked out by your doctor to rule out any other causes of crying or a change in behaviour. Many experts say that true colic is actually a very rare occurrence.
Fever in a newborn or blood in the stool are sure signs of a problem and need to be checked out. Most of the time, a baby’s winds are nothing to worry about. Experiment with ways to get rid of them and find out what works best to soothe your baby.
COULD IT BE COLIC?
If your baby is otherwise healthy, but cries inconsolably on a daily basis, he could have colic. Typically starting within a baby’s first four weeks of life and ending at around 16 weeks, colic is defined as “crying that lasts for at least three hours or more a day, for three days a week, for at least three weeks,” and can drive many a parent to tears of
desperation of their own. Bear in mind that doctors and experts believe that true colic is not as common as mothers believe, and that if you experience these symptoms it is always best to have your baby checked out by your doctor for confirmation.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
• A loud, intense, inconsolable cry that lasts for hours and usually starts in the late afternoon or early evening. • Your baby draws his knees up to his chest or arches his back. • Your baby’s stomach feels hard and looks swollen. • Your baby holds his breath or goes red in the face. WHAT CAUSES COLIC? The exact cause of colic still eludes us all, but scientists have suggested that colic has multiple causes that are different for each baby. An article in Acta Paediatrica, a journal on paediatric medicine, identifies the following possible causes of colic: lactose intolerance or allergies, digestive problems, hormones, feeding difficulties and psychological factors. However, in an article from www.webmd.com, Dr Harvey Karp, an associate professor of paediatrics at the University of California, says: “It has long been thought that the main cause was due to gastrointestinal problems, but this may not always be true. Paediatricians have also attributed colic to temperament, environment and an immature immune system.”
WHAT CAN YOU DO? • Swaddling – wrapping your baby snugly in a receiving blanket helps to mimic the warm confines of your womb, making him feel safe. • Side soothing – laying your baby on his side shuts down his body’s Moro reflex to help keep him calm. • Sound – white noise (such as that created by a hairdryer, a car or a white noise machine) helps to soothe your baby. • Swinging – carry your baby in a sling or baby carrier as rhythmic movement helps keep him calm. • Sucking – try to keep your baby occupied with a dummy. Suckling on the breast or bottle can also help. YB