The clock displayed “6:00pm” and just like clockwork, Evyn began wailing. Every day since turning 5 weeks old, Evyn had a tryst of fussiness at 6pm-9pm like it was her job. Nothing seemed to calm her; not a bath, not a top-off of ‘milkies’, not the soothing sounds of waves from Alexa. Absolutely NOTHING!!! Claudia was beginning to lose her ability to stay calm. “This must be colic.” She muttered. Claudia had heard of colic and from what her friends had shared it was the pits. “Every baby had colic, right? There has to be a reason, right? There’s a remedy, right? This HAS to end.”
What Is Colic
Colic often is the catch-all for any and every crying/fussing spell that is difficult to navigate for parents. Understandingly, a newborn that cannot be settled is heart wrenching for any new parent to witness. Colic is defined as frequent crying for 3-hours+ a day, for 3-days+, for 3-weeks+ for seemingly no rhyme or reason in an otherwise healthy baby. The onset of colic typically surfaces around 2-6 weeks old and declines around 3-4 months of age.
The symptoms of colic can manifest differently depending on the individual baby. There are some specific traits and signs that can make colic suspect. There are also signs and symptoms that are mistaken as colic but are other issues such as trapped gas, constipation, overfeeding, underfeeding, or overstimulation. Some more recognizable symptoms of colic are:
- Intense crying/screaming (almost pain-like)
- Fussiness after crying has ceased
- Discoloration of the skin (red, pale)
- Tension in the body (stiffening of legs, arms, abdomen)
- Predictability in timing/Consistent pattern to the crying
Start from one’s usual methods of soothing an upset baby. Rule out a dirty diaper, an illness, an injury, a growth spurt/leap, teething, overstimulation, etc. If the persistent crying continues, colic may be the culprit.
Possible Causes of Colic
Again, the onset of colic is unknown. However there are some instances that can contribute to how colic begins to manifest. Doctors believe that the development of a maturing digestive system. This can be gas, hormones that cause belly pains, and muscle spasms that may occur in the system. Along with the maturity of the digestive system, the nervous system also is developing. Sometimes at a more rapid pace than the body can manage. These are known as growth spurts and/or milestone leaps. Overstimulation, sensitivities to sounds and lights, and too early to diagnose disorders may all trigger crying sessions that manifest.
Bouts of colic and be a contributor to triggering an onset of a perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Take a breath… A BIG.DEEP.BREATH. Find the root of the issue as best as one can, and enlist support if needed. Being patient will take you far in the colic game. And when patience is tested or at its limit, reach out. Talk to the baby’s primary provider to rule out other issues. Hire a postpartum doula for companionship and navigating the ship.
Check in with the baby. They have feelings and needs too. Being in a world outside of the womb is like swimming in an ocean without a life vest. They don’t know how to feel safe, unless we help them to understand that feeling. Step away when needed. Place the baby in a safe and secure place, and step away. Go outside and get some fresh air, let the sun smile on your face or the stars twinkle a promise. While colic can grate on all parties involved and affected, know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
The evening finally fell, and Evyn was asleep. Claudia laid the worn out baby from her chest onto the bassinet that laid next to her own bed. Claudia’s talk with her pediatrician gave insight into what her little princess may be experiencing, therefore causing some difficult stints of crying and fussiness. “It’s not forever, it’s just for now.” Claudia spoke to herself as affirmation. “The days are long, but the years are short.”