Did you know we offer Paediatric Osteopathy here at Guy Golds? Our Senior Associate Osteopath Anna Aydinc is trained to treat newborn babies, and all of our clinicians are trained to offer therapy to pre- and post-natal mums. Anna has kindly put together a few tips on keeping your newborn happy, including some advice on feeding your baby.
Being a new mum is wonderful but it can also be tough. We prepare as much as we can but there is often a sense of exhaustion and uncertainty as we embark on the journey of motherhood.
We all do things differently and that’s fine: every family unit needs to make a choice on what works for them. When I had my first baby, he was a complete miracle but he was also truly miserable for the first few months: a difficult labour followed by antibiotics, thrush, colic… you name it, he had it. He was the baby that could not be put down, the one that nursed all the time and then cried all the time. My experience with him was the reason I wanted to pursue a better understanding of newborn paediatrics in relation to feeding issues.
These issues are so common and often the only advice we’re given is ‘they’ll grow out of it’.
As a mum, and as an Osteopath, here are some of the top tips I have learned and feel are worth sharing.
When I was pregnant with my second child, I came across a video from the Oprah show where she interviewed a woman with a 'photographic' memory for sounds. It is one of the most fascinating things I have ever watched. When my daughter was born, I listened carefully and was able to identify these various sounds; it was a complete transformation. Her first months were a complete joy in comparison to my son. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I can see now that a lot of the issues that made him miserable were related to over-feeding, which I will come back to later. My daughter was a walk in the park! I heard a specific sound and then either burped, fed or changed her and she was an easy-going little bundle of happiness.
How does it work?
In a nutshell, there are five universal sounds/cries babies make. The clip is a great watch and I highly recommend watching it a few times to train your hearing in identifying these sounds. You can watch the clip on Youtube here. Here’s an overview:
Neh- means hungry
Owh- means tired
Heh- means they are uncomfortable either hot/cold/need a position or nappy change
Eair- means they have a build up of lower gas
Eh- means they need to burp
The link between over-feeding and colic issues
Newborns have a reflex related to feeding. You might notice that when baby starts a feed they often pass wind or do a poo. As soon as they start feeding, everything is pushed forward in their digestive tract to make room. This is where problems can arise: different parts of our digestive system have different functions. When milk enters the small intestines from the stomach, one of the processes that occurs is the breakdown of lactose. Usually all lactose gets broken down in the small intestine. So, once things move in the digestive tract from the small to the large intestine, the main process is to absorb excess fluid and form the waste product before it is passed towards the exit. However, if lactose has not been fully digested in the small intestines it is being moved forward to the large intestines. If too much of it is present, rather than excess fluid being drawn out of the large intestine, fluid is being drawn in to maintain osmotic pressure. What happens with a lot of fluid, lactose and body heat? It ferments and you have a very gassy uncomfortable baby.
This is exactly one of the things that had happened with my son. I found it hard to tune into what he needed, as I did more easily with my daughter, and as it was the only way to soothe him I’d offer him a feed again and again, making him more and more gassy.
What’s the solution?
It takes a baby about an hour to digest enough lactose. The main recommendation I have is to leave an hour between the end of a feed and the beginning of a new one. This can be really difficult, especially if you are already in the cycle of baby crying, then offering the breast or bottle which soothes the cry temporarily only to come back with a vengeance once the feed stops.
You can help extend the cycle to an hour if dad or partner holds baby so baby can’t smell mum’s milk, and/or the use of a dummy.
Of course, there are other issues that can relate to colic, but having a look at feeding cycles and learning about babies sounds can be a good starting point.
If you’d like more help and support with your baby, you can book an appointment with our Paediatric Osteopath Anna, and all of our Osteopaths are trained to treat pregnant women. Visit our Booking page to schedule an appointment, or get in touch if you’ve got any questions.