5 Green Ways to Cut Colic and Keep Breastfeeding

As we prepare for our Going Green Party, Dr. Zach Ward of Ward Chiropractic Group, LLC has been great enough to guest post to share his insight as we get ready to Go Green-Be ready for informative posts, prizes, and so much more!

By Dr. Zachary F. Ward

Moms are going green. Moms are using cloth diapers, driving hybrids, buying organic baby foods, and breastfeeding over bottle feeding. It make sense then that moms are looking for natural and green solutions for their baby’s health. Especially for problems that cause mom’s anxiety to go through the roof…problems like colic.

If you or someone you know has a colicky baby, then keep reading, because we’re going to run down the top 5 green solutions for colic. And giving up breastfeeding is not one of them.

What is colic?

Mostly a lot of crying, in the evening hours by a baby who won’t calm down.colic

No matter what you do, baby is upset, and will stay upset for hours. Just the word colic can bring back painful memories and emotions for parents of colicky babies. Usually, for whatever reason, the colicky behavior stops or slows after the child reaches 3 to 4 months. But some babies go longer.

To get a real diagnosis of colic, generally medical physicians are looking for a baby who cries for 3 hours or more, at least 3 days a week, for at least 3 weeks, even when he or she is fed and gaining weight.

What causes colic?

There are a lot of theories, but no one really knows for sure. Here are some ideas:

-colic is caused by problems with the baby’s digestion, like reflux indigestion
-colic is caused by an allergic response to something mom ate, or to ingredients in formula
-colic is caused by an immature nervous system that can’t calm down once baby gets upset
-colic is caused by toxins in the environment
-colic is caused a child who is in pain by something common, like a headache, and can’t communicate their pain
colic is the early sign of a problematic child who is going to have behavior problems (no kidding, some people do think this)

What not-so-green solutions are there for colic?

Sometimes breastfeeding moms are told to switch to formula, and there are also prescription drugs.

Some important medical opinions say giving up breastfeeding is your absolute last option. Your mom’s generation might have been told to give up breastfeeding, but that doesn’t mean you have to as well.

Finally, here they are: the 5 Green Ways to Cut Colic and Keep Breastfeeding.

#1 Brush up on your breastfeeding. According to Dr. Jack Newman, author of the Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers in the U.S., there are some silly ideas out there that make breastfeeding harder for moms of colicky babies. Especially because colic often gets started right around feeding time. Here are a few thing he suggests to do, which might be opposite of what some of your friends think:

-Don’t time your feedings, feed when the baby is hungry, and do it before she gets really hungry to prevent milk from flowing like crazy and causing the baby to choke and get fussy.
-Don’t stop feeding on one breast to switch to the other until baby is done. Finish feeding on one side, then offer the other side if baby is still hungry. There’s no “one breast per feeding rule” or “feed on both sides rule.” Your body has an amazing ability to adapt and you won’t lose milk in one side, or produce too much in the other.

-Make sure the baby is latched on properly. Find a local lactation consultant from La Leche League to help you if you need help. Just because it looks easy doesn’t mean it is, and you shouldn’t feel silly because you want to breastfeed and need help doing it. There are plenty of intelligent, thoughtful moms who need help breastfeeding. My wife was one of them.

(Also, my wife wants me to add in that just because you’re going back to work doesn’t mean you can’t breastfeed at night. We had to bottle feed our first child during the day, and mom’s milk supply adapted to providing night feedings only. You have options.)

#2 See if the milk proteins you eat make it worse. The things mom eat can cause baby to have some digestion issues, especially cow’s milk. To figure this out remove dairy from your diet for a week or two (including cheese and ice cream, sorry) and see what happens.

If it seems to make a difference, run with it, and slowly start eating dairy again, if you like dairy.

If cutting dairy doesn’t seem to change anything, you can try other kinds of foods, like cabbage, onions, etc, but you need to do it one thing at a time for at least a week. Your mom and her friends might have plenty of advice, but just keep in mind that you need plenty of healthy, whole foods.

#3 Avoid giving baby anything other than breast milk. Don’t give your colicky baby juice, soy milk, or water, none of which she needs, unless you’re in the middle of a medical emergency and she’s in the ER. In which case the ER docs will be taking care of that for you.

#4 Think outside the box to soothe your baby and yourself. If colicky babies really do have immature nervous systems, then the things you do to soothe him may actually upset him more. Instead of rocking, massaging, and silence, try setting him down in a room with plenty of background noise. And don’t ignore your own stress levels during this crisis. Your own emotions and stress may be picked up by your child, which may not help the situation.

Keep changing baby’s environment and you may find a surprising solution that buys you some silence.

#5 Seek natural alternatives like chiropractic care, or herbal remedies. There is some growing evidence that colicky babies respond dramatically to chiropractic care, with fewer bouts of crying. (Please email me or contact via twitter @DrZWard for more information, and summaries of some studies).

Usually the babies respond quickly, only after one or two visits. If colicky babies are expressing pain (headache), or disturbances in the nervous system, then chiropractic care may be a natural, hands-on approach that works for your baby.

All of my three children have been under chiropractic care since infancy ( I check them once every few months), and so far we’ve not dealt with colic (and only one earache for that matter). As a parent and as a chiropractor I can attest that chiropractic is very safe, gentle, and suitable for even the smallest of children.

Finally, there are some herbal teas that may help colic as well. I suggest visiting a local health food store like Wheatsfield Coop and asking them what other local moms have used. They may have a product on hand with a good reputation. Please keep in mind that just because it’s herbal doesn’t mean it isn’t as powerful as a pharmaceutical. Do some research.

About the author: Dr. Zachary F. Ward has been a stay-at-home dad, a part-time writer from home, and more recently, the owner of a growing chiropractic practice. He is the father of three young children, all of whom were breastfed by his his amazing wife. Dr. Ward is a member of the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association, also know as NUCCA. He sees patients who range from babies to Baby Boomers in his Ames, Iowa practice.

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  1. I agree that chiropractic care can help a ton with lots of ailments infants have. My daughter would only turn her head to one side and our doctor just kept telling us to stretch it the other way for about 10 minutes a few times a day. She would scream and scream every time we did. Then we mentioned it to our chiropractor and after a few visits she had no problem turning her head. She had a vertebrae in her neck out of alignment, so no wonder it hurt for her to turn her head! I just wish we would have done something sooner. She still has a flat spot on her head from always being on the one side.

  2. Yay for chiropractics! My whole family sees a chiropractor and we love him! He keeps my headaches and pinched nerve at bay and has really helped improve my kids’ immune system functions. He also works on their brainstem which is critical to good health and balance (which the good doctor already knows.) This is a great post and I wish that more parents would try homeopathic and unconventional methods for treating their children.

  3. I swear that chiropractic care helped me achieve pregnancy when fertility drugs couldn’t. Within 2 months of starting spinal decompression therapy (for lower back pain problems and a slight curvature) I was able to get pregnant and maintain that pregnancy after 4 years of trying and a miscarriage in the process. We were so excited because I initially went in to treat other problems…it never crossed my mind that this might help with inferility. I’m sure the jury is out on whether it’s been proven to help with infertility, but it made a believer out of me.

  4. they can totally help with getting a baby to turn around when they are faced the wrong (I can’t remember what that is called)

    AND something like 80% of ear problems can be cured with chiropractic vs those dern ear tubes!

    great post!


  5. Karissa,

    You’re talking about the Webster Technique. It works on many occasions, but depends how far mom is along in the pregnancy.

    It actually worked for my wife while I was still in chiropractic school! Honestly, I couldn’t believe it.

    Regarding ear infections, gentle adjustments to the upper neck can be very helpful with helping the infection resolve on its own.

  6. Being Canadian and all, I’m happy you mentioned Dr. Newman!! I agree Chiropractic care can help a lot! Thanks for the post, definitely interesting!

  7. Dr. Ohm! I love your work. I’m going to link to Pathways from my own website. Thanks.

  8. Pingback: Green Options for Colic |

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