Colic!! What is it? What causes it? Why do some babies have it and some not?
Well, I do not have all the answers but I have learned a lot from experience and I have also done quite a bit of reading about it. I know very well from experience how extremely hard it is to have to watch your baby scream in pain and yet not know what is causing it. I feel badly for any mother that has to go through that. I hope and pray that by sharing my experience it will be of help to other mothers and babies.
My first child, Quinton, was born in November of 2006. I was very pleased with my well-behaved baby that hardly cried…. until he was 1 week old. He started to get fussy and then I noticed stringy blood in his dirty diaper. Of course I was frantic and called the doctor. I was told that this can be normal for babies to have a little blood in their stools because sometimes they can get little cuts in their rectum called fissures. It was Friday and I was told that if he was still having a problem that I was concerned about, then I could call again on Monday. Well, the fussiness and bleeding only got worse. I was worried ALL weekend and took him in to the doctor on Monday. Again I was told not to worry about it and the fussiness was probably just from colic. So I went home and things only got worse. My baby started throwing up a lot. I was so worried the first time I saw him throw up and it shot out a foot or two. He started having problems nursing also. He acted hungry all the time and yet when I tried to nurse him he was just so frantic he would gulp, cry, and throw up. I could tell that he was really starting to have stomach/digestive problems. The doctor suggested that he might have acid reflux and after trying him on Zantac, and then Reglan, he finally prescribed Prevacid. It was very expensive but I didn’t care because I was desperate. But the Prevacid did very little and my baby continued to scream. The doctor finally admitted that he might have something more than just colic or acid reflux wrong with him but he didn’t know what. Quinton had numerous blood tests done that revealed nothing. The blood in the stools continued to get worse. He had very strange stools and had at least 12 dirty diapers a day. Sometimes just watery and sometimes stringy green like cooked spinach. 🙁 There was even a couple of times that it looked like straight dark blood.
As a general rule he would not sleep more than 5-10 minutes and then wake up screaming in pain. One of the ways I could get him to fall asleep was to hold his body facing mine and let his little head tip all the way back. It looked terrible but it must have made the pain in his throat feel slightly better. Another way he would sleep for a few minutes was if I held him lying on my arm face down. I would put his head right below the crook of my arm and then I would push the palm of my hand into his stomach and press his back against my stomach The pressure on his tummy would give him a few minutes of relief. I tried several ways of trying to lay him down, in the rare case that he would be sleeping well enough. Laying him flat on his back was totally out of the picture so I tried putting him on his stomach with a wedge under him. But I finally had to give up on using my beautiful new cradle that my sister and her family had so lovingly built for us. Then I tried the swing but it seemed to squish up his stomach too much. (I later read that a car seat or swing can make reflux worse because of the position it puts their stomach in.) I finally laid my baby on his stomach in his swing. That put him at an incline but didn’t squish his stomach. Yes, it looked terrible but I just did what I had to.
When I nursed him, I held him in the most upright position I could due to his reflux. But nursing was a nightmare for both of us. The doctor started getting a little concerned when Quinton wasn’t gaining weight like he should, so he told me to give him at least a bottle a day, even though I had an abundance of milk for him. When the formula didn’t set well he suggested trying soy formula. That made him even worse. By this time my baby was 5 weeks old and we were facing Christmas with dread.
A few days before Christmas the doctor suggested that Quinton could have an allergy to cow’s milk. He suggested that I try to cut dairy products out of my diet. I was told to avoid fresh dairy products but if it was processed or cooked then that wasn’t as bad. So as difficult as it looked I knew I needed to try. Considering that formula didn’t set well either it seemed better to keep nursing.
Christmas was terrible. On Christmas Eve we were together with my husband’s family at his grandparents and Quinton just wouldn’t stop crying. I felt so desperate! Of course the doctor’s office was closed but I had the hospital page him and he called me back. He said that I should quit the soy formula and go to Nutramigen. That is a formula that is made of proteins that are extensively broken down and therefore is very easy for the stomach to digest. The only problem was that all stores were closed. 🙁 He also said I could just give him Pedialyte. I didn’t have any so he suggested I call the hospital and see if they had any. He then told me that if I was too worried about my baby I could always take him to the ER. I figured it was pointless to take him to the ER so I called the hospital and asked if they had Pedialyte or Nutramigen. They had the Pedialyte but not the Nutramigen. The hospital is about 30 minutes away so I decided to check with friends first. Although it was late I found a friend that had some Pedialyte and she had some gas relief drops too. I normally had plenty of gas drops and gripe water but had run out. (I truly spent hundreds of dollars on gas relief drops and gripe water.) We had to just “endure” the entire day of Christmas. The next day the doctor prescribed a barium enema and a couple other tests. So off to Wichita we took our poor little screaming baby. To have this barium enema done he had to have an empty stomach. He of course was hungry and did a lot of crying. I had to have my husband, Russ, hold him down for the test because I just couldn’t handle it emotionally. The test only revealed a very inflamed intestine. I don’t remember what other tests they did but nothing came out of them. The doctor finally had me take a daily stool sample for a week from Quinton to prove that it really was blood that I was seeing. I felt so frustrated because I saw the blood all the time and didn’t want to endure another week of my miserable baby. But I did what he asked, and when I had “proved” it, I believe he was stumped. I had the samples dated and toward the end of the week, the blood was a little less so he told me to continue avoiding milk, give a bottle or two a day of Nutramigen and see what happened.
By then Quinton was 12 weeks old and it felt like I had had NO sleep since he was born and it seemed as if I had shed almost as many tears as my baby. If he slept for very long periods I was afraid to check on him for fear he had died.
After Christmas I started giving Quinton a couple bottles a day of the Nutramigen formula. I also tried my best to avoid milk products and he was still taking the Prevacid. It seemed at times he would improve a little and have a little better day but for the most part he was just plain miserable. Some of my family encouraged me to call a friend (Nanc) that had had a baby that suffered from a milk intolerance. I was somewhat reluctant to call her because I felt that I was trying to avoid milk and surely that wasn’t what was wrong with my baby. But… how wrong I was!!! When I called Nanc and she started talking about MSPI (Milk/Soy Protein Intolerance), I could feel this sense of relief come over me. I thought, “Now here was someone that knew what they were talking about!!” My doctor had never even mentioned such a term. When Nanc told me that when a baby has MSPI they are EXTREMELY sensitive to any and all types of cow’s or soy milk products, even just small amounts, I realized why my “try to avoid milk” wasn’t working. I didn’t know that I needed to avoid ALL milk products all the time whether they were cooked or not. I decided right then and there that I was DONE nursing and I was going to give my baby only Nutramigen. Within 24 hours of quitting nursing, my baby laid on the floor and cooed for 2 hours. I just stood and looked at him and let the tears of joy flow. I just couldn’t believe it! That night I laid him down to sleep and went to sleep myself. I woke up with a start at 7am and couldn’t believe that my baby was still sleeping. I was so scared to even check on him because I feared he had might have died in the night. But all was well!!
I called the doctor to tell him the good news and I could tell he was very relieved. He said he was at the end of knowing what to do and he had planned on making a call to the Gastroenterologist in Wichita that very day. At some later point when at the doctor’s office I looked over Quinton’s chart while the doctor was out for a minute and I was shocked to find that he had labeled Quinton as “failure to thrive”. 🙁
In the information that Nanc gave me I read that most babies grow out of this problem by one year of age but for some it can take up to the time they are three. Quinton continued to drink the Nutramigen and take the Prevacid. His problems were so much less!!! I had him only eat canned baby food instead of table food until he was a year old. I was afraid of letting him eat table food because so much of it has dairy products in it. But at a year he was not yet over his stomach problems. He had an extremely touchy stomach that couldn’t handle a lot of different foods.
Even though I had made copies of all the MSPI information that Nanc had sent me and gave it to the doctor and begged him to read it, (not so much for my sake but for other mother’s and baby’s sakes) I don’t think he did, because when Quinton turned a year old I asked the doctor what he suggested that I give him instead of Nutramigen and he suggested SOY milk. 🙁 At this point I decided that I was “on my own”. I didn’t even try the soy milk but rather tried rice milk. Quinton seemed ok with it, and yet there were many times that I questioned “What is causing him to cry tonight?” When we went other places to eat, and if people weren’t aware of Quinton’s intolerance, it was hard because sometimes there was hardly anything he could eat. Rather than make a “scene” I would just let him have stuff that I thought might bother him and figured we’d just have to pay the consequences later. 🙁
One of the really scary things that I learned about MSPI is that if your first child has it, then most likely all your children will and it can possibly be worse with each one. 🙁 So, the idea of having another baby didn’t really enthuse me a lot. But Russ and I both had often talked of how it would nice to have our children spaced about 2 years apart so we decided we’d just have to prepare ourselves and hope for the best. When I became pregnant again I got really worried and scared at times at the thought of “Will I be able to handle another screaming baby?”, but I tried to console myself that “This time will be different because I will know more”.
Jackson was born in December (just a little over 2 years after Quinton :)). I had decided to try to avoid all milk products for awhile before he was born and of course all the while I nursed him. I knew that it would really be difficult over the holidays but it was important to me to at least try to nurse him as long as possible. I was disappointed when at about a week old he started showing signs of acid reflux. Quinton was still taking Prevacid and we were away from home so I called the doctor to see how much Prevacid I could give to Jackson. I was told only a fourth of a 15 mg pill. I started that right away but it hardly helped. I soon realized just how hard it really was to avoid all milk products. Even though while with my family over Christmas they tried hard to make foods that were dairy free, I wound up in tears because there were just so many things I couldn’t eat and I was hungry and stressed out. 🙁 After we came home I was thankful that some of my friends brought me food but not all of them were aware of the fact that I was avoiding milk products so I didn’t say anything and thought I would just let Quinton and Russ eat those foods. But alas my hungriness and tiredness overtook, and at times I ate some of it. I tried hard to avoid milk products but by 8 weeks I gave up. Jackson was very miserable by then and so was I. At one point Russ said he thought Jackson cried even more than Quinton had but I told him that his memory was failing him even though it was true that Jackson cried a lot.
Although I gave Jackson Nutramigen to drink and never let him have milk products he still had reflux problems. And they did seem to be even worse than Quinton’s. From what I had read about Prevacid there really wasn’t a chance of overdose right away so I kept increasing the amount I gave him in hopes of it helping. By the time he was 8 months old I was giving him 30mg a day. That amount was not prescribed by the doctor and was a pretty high dose for a baby. But even with him taking that amount he was still having pain and cried a lot at night.
By this point Quinton was close to three and basically the only liquid he drank was water and he was taking 15mg of Prevacid a day. As long as I remembered to give him his daily pill he did fairly well but he still didn’t tolerate milk too well and he was very sensitive to things like summer sausage and hot dogs. I finally decided that I should take my boys to a Pediatric Gastroenterologist to see if she could tell me what was causing their stomachs to produce so much acid. In essence, she felt that by the looks of things my children were healthy enough and that I didn’t need to worry about them. She said that it was ok to give 30mg a day of Prevacid to my baby but not for more than several months. She recommend that I read a book titled “Colic Solved” written by Dr. Bryan Vartabedian. He also is a Pediatric Gastroenterologist. (I purchased this book and I was very impressed with it.) She was somewhat concerned though that Quinton was still having such acid reflux at close to the age of three so she suggested that if he was still having problems by the time he turned three that she would like to look down his throat with an endoscope.
I did not want to have that done but at the same time I wanted to know what was causing my children to have such problems. I feared though that we would put out a lot of money for the test and in the end not really see much results from of it. So, I decided that the first thing I needed to do was take him off of the Prevacid to see how bad his problems really were. Well, after he was off of his medicine for several days he started waking up at night very restless. Soon he started waking fully up and crying. When at a little over a week without the medicine he cried for 2 hours in pain I decided that we were doomed for the endoscope. I was ready to start him back on the Prevacid the next day when a friend of ours had a suggestion for me to try. He suggested giving him alkaline water. Considering that Russell’s parents had a machine that produced this kind of water I figured it would be worth a try before I put him back on his Prevacid. The next day we got a gallon of alkaline water and I had Quinton drink that water instead of our water. I was VERY surprised when I woke up the next morning to find that Quinton was still peacefully sleeping in his own bed. We decided to continue getting this water and see what happened. I was very pleased to find that this alkaline water counteracted the acidity of his stomach. He has never taken Prevacid since!
After awhile I slowly started letting Quinton have dairy products to see what would happen. I was pleasantly surprised that he seemed to tolerate them quite well. I didn’t let him have big quantities or drink straight milk though. Although I did notice that if there were days that he didn’t drink much water he tended to wake up more at night, and sometimes he even complained that some things made his “burps hurt”. I was really glad that the alkaline water helped him so much and I felt too that maybe he was outgrowing his problem some. At the same time though I still felt confused as to “what” was causing his stomach to produce too much acid. But I was just glad that he was no longer taking expensive medicine and we had found something that helped.
When I saw how this helped Quinton I decided to start making Jackson’s bottles with the alkaline water also. At the same time I started decreasing his Prevacid. By the time he was a year old he also was medication free and sleeping fairly well at night. But with his Nutramigen being so expensive I wanted to try something else. I was afraid to just start him on cow’s milk so I tried rice milk. I tried mixing it half with water because I felt that he needed the water too. But then I was worried that he wasn’t getting enough milk. The rice milk didn’t set well and I found out that it is actually acidic. Although I figured he wouldn’t tolerate the protein in soy milk I decided to try unsweetened soy milk because it’s alkaline. That seemed a little better for the reflux but it gave him constipation. Next I tried goat’s milk which is also alkaline. That seemed the best of all three. Even though I mixed it with water he wasn’t getting enough water to counteract the acidity of his stomach. So he continued to have some problems but not badly enough to make me want to put him back on Prevacid. After he’d been drinking the goat’s milk for a couple of months he got sick with a fever for over a week and hardly drank anything. Our goat’s milk got old and I decided not to buy anymore until he was well because I didn’t want to waste it due to it being so expensive. During that time I just put water in his bottles and he seemed fine with that. Suddenly he got over his fever and started sleeping all through the night. He had hardly ever done that so I was surprised. I began to wonder if maybe he didn’t tolerate that goat’s milk as well as I thought he did. So after he had slept through the night for 6 nights in a row, which had never happened before, I got some more goat’s milk. About an hour after he drank a bottle full he started crying and cried for 2 hours. Well, I felt very frustrated and didn’t know what to do. But all I could do was give him the alkaline water and hope and pray that someday I would find the root of the problem. It concerned me that my 18 month old and my 3 year old drank no milk but I just didn’t know what to do about it. The doctor suggested giving them a calcium supplement but I could never find a children’s calcium supplement.
Last Fall when my boys were almost two and four, I had a friend suggest that I call and talk to a man named Shan Stratton and get his advice on what to do for my boys. I was told that Shan is a very knowledgeable nutritionist who sells different kinds of supplements. He is internationally known for his health education and he is a nutritional consultant for professional athletes. I thought maybe he would have some sort of calcium supplement that might help my children and it wouldn’t hurt to call him. So I did.
Within minutes of talking to him tears came to my eyes because I felt as if maybe my prayers were heard and my “answer” had come. I will try my best to repeat what I learned from him… The reason that my children had so many digestive problems is that they had an enzyme and probiotic deficiency. Enzymes are what is in our digestive tract to aid in breaking down our food. Our body produces some enzymes on its own but others need to come from the food we eat. We only get these from raw foods. Years ago people consumed a lot more raw foods than we do today. Anytime we cook or process foods we cook the enzymes out of them. Our bodies can only produce so much on their own and so a lot of people today suffer from digestive problems simply because they are lacking enough enzymes. It is also possible for a baby to inherit a deficiency from its mother. If a mother has digestive problems and doesn’t have enough enzymes and probiotics for herself then she most likely won’t have enough to pass on to her baby. If the mother will take a supplement of enzymes and probiotics while pregnant she should have plenty to pass on to her baby and therefore should have a baby with a healthy digestive system.
Probiotics are the good, live bacteria that coat and protect our digestive tract. When we take antibiotics they kill the bad bacteria but also the good bacteria. When the good bacteria gets killed, then our digestive tract is left unprotected and that is the reason we so often have digestive problems during or after we take antibiotics. Probiotics also aid in breaking down the food we eat. So when someone has digestive problems it is important to take an enzyme and probiotic supplement together.
When food is placed in the stomach and there aren’t enough enzymes to break it down, all the stomach knows to do is produce more acid to try to break it down. The result of that is often acid reflux. Drinking alkaline water is a wonderful way to counteract the acid and for some people the water will actually make their symptoms go away completely. Even though it is recommended that all people drink alkaline water due to the highly acidic diets we eat today, the fact that stress also adds acid to our bodies, and disease thrives in an acidic environment; alkaline water will not make our bodies produce more enzymes and probiotics. So that is why it is also recommended that anyone who eats a diet of mostly cooked or processed foods should take an enzyme/probiotic supplement.
So, you can see why I was overwhelmed with tears. It all sounded so simple. Not only that, I was so impressed when he told me that he sold these supplements called “Digestive Health” (DH) for only $30 a month. I instantly ordered some for my boys and myself. Russ and I had been talking about having more children but it just looked too overwhelming and scary. But after talking with Shan I began to feel a bit of hope! In the past four years I had had very few full night’s rest. It seemed as if I had spent a lot more time in the recliner than in my own bed. I had spent many a guilty night wandering what it was that I had let my child have this time that was causing his stomach to hurt.
Within only three days of my boys taking the DH they started sleeping all night long. At first they woke up around every 3rd night, then once a week, then once every other week, until it got to the point where they hardly ever woke up at night. After taking these for a couple of months I started slowly giving them milk products. It is hard for me to believe this but… today my boys can eat any food they want to! They love to drink milk and eat ice cream, and I truly cannot remember the last time they woke up crying from stomach pain!
As you can imagine, all of our lives started to change. All of us were getting more sleep and I had a new hope for the future. My fears of another screaming baby started to go away and I decided that I DID want another baby! My baby is due in October and I am looking forward to seeing what kind of a digestive system it will have. 🙂 I am glad to know that if for some reason the baby was not able to get enough enzymes and probiotics from me, these DH pills can be given directly to a newborn baby.
I have lately done a little bit of research and have been surprised at some of the things I have learned. Here is a copy of an article that I found… Whilst in your womb, your baby’s intestinal tract is sterile – and so its free from bacteria. From birth though, your baby begins the process of acquiring the friendly bacteria in the gut that play such a critical role in health and wellness.
How your child is born, strongly influences what kind of bacteria your child will acquire. Infants that are born vaginally begin accumulating beneficial bacteria including Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Escherichia coli (commonly abbreviated to E. coli) and Enterococcus in the birth canal with the very process of birth. These bacteria form the foundations of a healthy digestive flora and originate from healthy maternal vaginal and fecal flora.Babies born via cesarean on the other hand, receive a different mix of bacteria at birth. This comes from the maternity hospital itself, notably from nursing staff and equipment and includes Clostridium and Streptococcus.
Following birth, the acquisition of digestive flora continues until your baby is around two to three months of age with most of this beneficial bacteria coming from the mother via touch, suckling and kissing. The way in which you feed your baby also has a strong influence on his or her digestive flora. A breastfed baby tends to have greater numbers and types of beneficial bacteria than a formula fed infant, notably Bifidobacteria, Lactobacillus and Enterococcus. These bacteria, specifically those belonging to the Bifidobacteria clan (genera) (e.g. Bifidobacteria infantis, Bifidobacteria bifidum, Bifidobacteria longum and Bifidobacteria breve) thrive in the presence of breast milk proteins and constitute up to 90% of a breastfed infant’s micro flora. They help prevent harmful bacteria colonizing the infant’s intestine. Another place where I was reading about colic I found this info… Newborns have an immature digestive system that has never processed food. The gastrointestinal system is literally just learning to function. Muscles that support digestion have not developed the proper rhythm for moving food efficiently through the digestive tract. Furthermore, newborns lack the benevolent bacterial flora (probiotics) that develop over time to aid digestion. This explains why almost all infants outgrow colic within the first six months.
I am impressed at how important it really is for myself to be healthy during pregnancy to have a healthy baby. I am very pleased that since starting to take the DH and the Core Pack that Shan created, I no longer have digestive problems. I know too how important it is to have a baby vaginally and to breastfeed. Both of my boys were born by c-section and with this baby I plan to try my best to have it naturally and also to breastfeed longer than I did with the boys.
Our beautiful baby girl Shiloh Beth, was born at the end of October. (A year after I learned about Core Health Products.) While pregnant I took 2 Core Health packs a day (daily vitamins, minerals, probiotics, enzymes, etc.) and 2 Digestive Health pills a day. When she was born I was very hopeful but a little nervous. I knew the pills had helped my boys and I so much but I was afraid to believe that I could have a baby that didn’t cry all the time. For the first week of her life I held her pretty much all the time because I felt that “what if…” and I knew that if the digestive problems set in it would no longer be fun to hold my baby. I knew that all her cuddliness would leave. I watched her with a close eye for any problems. Every time she let out even a squeak I would think “Oh, here we go”. But I was always pleasantly surprised to find that the crying was only due to being hungry, tired, or needing her diaper changed. I thought to myself, “If we can make it a week without problems then I’ll believe”. At a week old all was well so I said, “Two weeks”. During that second week I could see that there was NO problems and at the end of the week I started to relax a little more but said. “Three weeks, then I’ll really believe.” Well, my baby is now 5 weeks old and has absolutely NO digestive problems whatsoever!!! I have eaten cheese cake, milk, ice cream, Mexican food, sandwich meat… actually anything and everything! She has never even so much as pulled her legs up from gas pains. (And “all” babies do that.)
Before I had her I mentioned to my sister-in-law that if I had a girl I would need some girl burp rags. She said “No you won’t”. And when I asked why she said “Babies that take ‘Digestive Health’ don’t spit up.”. She used these pills on her baby shortly after I found out about Core Health and that was her experience with them. Now that was a REAL hard one for me to believe. I’d definitely need to see that one to believe it. Well, she was right! I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even keep a burp rag with me. I can’t say she never has anything come up but it’s so rare and normally such a small amount that I use just a Kleenex or whatever handy to wipe it off.
I find myself often holding my baby just because it feels so good to snuggle with a snuggly baby that isn’t crying. When I look into her eyes and she smiles at me it makes we want to cry tears of happiness. I feel so relaxed with her. There just isn’t that stress of “what’s wrong?”, and “what did I eat that I shouldn’t have?”, pacing the floor for hours, and getting no sleep. It feels good to me that I am doing something “right” for my baby this time! With the boys I often felt such guilt for eating things I shouldn’t have or even getting frustrated with them (cause they were just babies). I am amazed that Shiloh has already started to sleep 6-8 hours at a time during the night.
Shortly before I got pregnant, Quinton was asking when we were going to have another baby and I told him that Daddy and Mama wanted one too but it was up to Jesus. So him, my 2 year old, and I knelt down and prayed for a baby. After Quinton was done and we were getting up from kneeling he said, “Oh, one more thing.”. So we knelt down again and he said prayed, “And Jesus, please make it be a girl.”. I was really impressed with his faith and decided that I should have a faith more like him.
When I was first pregnant I heard of someone that had named their girl Shiloh because it meant “peace”. I right away asked my husband if we could name our baby that if we had a girl. He also really liked the name so it was decided. I was quite sure that we were going to have a “peaceful” baby girl. 🙂 I later found out that her name also meant “gift from God” and decided that her name definitely would fit her.
I am so impressed and thankful to be able to have a baby that doesn’t have digestive problems and cries all the time! The word “thankful” just doesn’t seem like it’s a good enough word though. God has richly blessed us!!
And my thankfulness to Core Health is also not able to be put into words!! When I say that he changed our lives… that is understatement!!”
THANK YOU, CORE HEALTH!!!!!!!!!