When I fell pregnant with Megan, baby number four, I honestly thought that I knew it all. Having had Lewis and Eva, and been very fortunate that they were very easy babies who fed, slept, winded without any issues, I naively assumed that Megan would be the same. But boy, was I wrong!!
Born at 35 weeks, following a rapid induction, Megan had been taken straight into neonatal with low blood sugars, high temperatures and concerns that she had an infection. She was immediately started on intravenous antibiotics, given nil by mouth, placed in an incubator where we sat, emotional and scared, for hours on end listening to machines bleep, babies cry and doctors speak in low, hushed voices.
A little over two weeks later when she returned home, we thought that we were finally over the worst. With a 9 year old Lewis, a 1 year old Eva and our beautiful little Meggy, we were more than ready to enjoy our time as a family of five.
And then it started.
Every second of every day, whether she was hungry or not, tired or not, had a dirty nappy, or not, she would scream blue murder. Not just in the way that most babies cry, but she would physically shake with pure rage, pulling her legs up to her chest, her stomach visibly cramping, her cries escalating to the point where she would be blue in the face. And I’ll be honest, that wasn’t how I imagined having a new baby would be.
For the first few weeks we were back and forth to A&E where the doctors would take one look at her and claim that any baby who was in as much pain as she clearly was, must have something terribly wrong with her. Each time she was hooked up to more antibiotics, a lumbar puncture performed, bloods taken, tests done, and, as a Mother, I was absolutely terrified as to what could be causing her so much pain.
After seeing one consultant after another, across four different hospitals, countless stays on the children’s ward, endless prescription formulas, antibiotics, medicines and supplements, we took the advice of a friend and visited a cranial osteopath. He took one look at her and told us that in his opinion it was colic, most likely caused by the large number of antibiotics that she had been given over such a short time. Within a few minutes under his touch, our angry, unsettled baby was perfectly still, her eyes rolling, a little smile creeping over her face, and I had left that first session in tears thinking that, finally, we had found a way to help her.
I read a lot about colic in the weeks that followed and the one thing that I always came back to was the antibiotics, something which the doctors dismissed as absolute nonsense. Although Megan was unfortunate that alongside the colic she developed reflux, by the time she hit her first birthday she was finally over the worst and I feel as though it was only then, a year in, that we were finally able to really enjoy our baby.
So when I was sent a book, written by Christian Bates, an Osteopath and Naturopath who has 20 years of experience in treating babies for colic and birth traumas, although I no longer have young babies, I couldn’t wait to read it.
The book, Calming Colic, explains that colic is a symptom rather than a condition, and reading through the list I was astounded by all that applied to myself and to Megan, highlighted below in bold.
- Birth trauma – long births, instrument delivery, quick births, C-sections, premature births.
- Antibiotic use and imbalance in bowel bacteria.
- Maternal separation.
- Growing pains.
- Feeding and sleep environment routine.
- Foods eaten by the breasfeeding mother causing colic.
- Formula fed babies have issues with the formula causing colic.
- The mother has digestive issues of her own.
- The mother is deficient of good foods and nutrients resulting in a “hungry baby” that is unsatisfied with breast milk.
- Stress in parents, before and after birth.
I found myself reading the entire book from cover to cover over the course of the evening, unable to put it down because everything I was reading just made sense. It came as a relief in some ways to read that 80% of babies seen by Christian have had antibiotic exposure, and confirmed my belief that our experience of colic was worsened, if not caused, by the numerous courses of antibiotics as a baby.
I love how Christian explores each of the ten causes of colic in detail, giving practical advice and solutions for parents to put into place, and supporting them throughout what can be a really difficult time in a new parents life. I actually felt quite emotional when I had finished the book, that I had struggled on my own for those first few months, that we had been through so much worry, stress and upset, and that my gut feeling, that a combination of a premature birth, speedy labour, antibiotics, a stay in neonatal and stress had absolutely contributed to my daughters issues.
We can never go back and re-live those that first year again, and in that way perhaps I will always feel a little cheated, but if anyone out there has a baby who is suffering with colic I urge you to read this book. Read it cover to cover, follow the advice given, and realise that there is help and support out there for you and your baby. Although colic is no longer an issue for my children, I feel a real sense of closure that, almost four years down the line, I have finally found some answers.
To find out more about the book or Christian Bates work, please visit www.calmingcolic.com
Priced at £5.99 for a PDF download or £9.99 for a Paperback copy.