Does your baby have intense crying that lasts three hours or more? He may have a hernia. There’s no specific definition of colic, but it usually means excessive crying for no reason, says Dr. Barry Lester, director of the Children’s Center Colic Clinic at Brown University Hospital for Women and Children in Providence and co-author of “Why Does My Baby Cry?
Pediatricians often use the “rule of three” to determine this condition: “When an infant cries for three hours or more for at least three days of the week (usually at night), for more than three weeks, for no apparent reason,” says Dr. Lester, co-author of “Why My Baby Cries. Mary Ann LoFrumento, M.D., author of Simply Parenting: Understanding Your Newborn & Infant, says.
Hernias usually begin around the second or third week of life and peak at about six to eight weeks. Unlike a normal baby’s cry, attempts to stop crying caused by a hernia by feeding, burping, rocking or changing diapers are unsuccessful. This condition subsidizes infants about 3 to 4 months of age.
The cause of the painful hernia remains a mysteryーーunfortunately, so does the treatment. Desperate parents have tried a host of fabled remedies, such as midnight drives, massage, acupuncture, battery-operated swings, white noise machines, the anti-gas drug Mylicon eye drops, and “painkillers” like Colic Calm and Colic-Ease. While some have had success with these so-called treatments, there is little science to back them up, and many infants are still screaming.
“Some infants will respond to these interventions, some will not respond to them, and many will only respond occasionally,” explains Larry Scherzer, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Connecticut Health in Farmington. “Usually by the time you’ve tried everything, the baby is old enough that most of the crying has stopped.”
Want to know how to handle a baby with a hernia? According to experts, parents can try the “five s” strategy to simulate the uterine environment. Read more about this strategy, as well as other ways to soothe a hernating baby.
Colic sedation strategy: Follow the “five s’s” strategy
Because doctors don’t know the exact cause of a hernia, it can be very difficult to treat. Conventional medications, such as anti-gas, antacids and painkillers, will not “cure” the condition. The same is true for dietary modification. One approach may work: the “five s” strategy simulates life in the womb.
When we do something similar to what a fetus experiences, the baby has an innate reflex that is triggered. “It’s like an ‘off’ switch for crying,” says Harvey Karp, M.D., author of the DVD and book “The Happiest Baby. The five s include swaddling, shushing, wiggling, sucking and lying on their sides or stomachs. Dr. Karp says, “I’ve never had a child follow the ‘five s’s’ unless she was sick and she wouldn’t calm down.” .
Here are strategies on how to help a baby with a hernia:
Swaddle: Hold your baby’s arms close to her sides, but keep her legs relaxed and bent so her hips have room to move.
Shh: “In the womb, the noise is louder than the sound of a vacuum cleaner,” says Dr. Karp. Mimicking womb-like sounds helps babies sleep longer. Dr. Karp recommends using white noise audio files or radio static. Recordings of rain and even the sound of a hair dryer may also work. Although you may find these sounds loud, babies find them comforting because they are similar to the sounds they hear in the womb.
Rocking: A slow, steady motion can keep your baby calm. Dr. Karp assures: “Holding and rocking doesn’t make the baby bad.” . “In the womb, babies are around the clock, so even if you’re holding a baby for 18 hours a day, that’s a major cut for your baby.” In fact, a study in the journal Pediatrics found that parents cried for half as long holding their children for 16.5 hours a day as parents cried for 8 hours a day.
Sucking: Babies have a strong urge to suck in the first few months of life, and satisfying that urge can quickly calm a fidgety baby. Try giving your tummy-ache baby a pacifier. While some breastfed babies may reject it, it will provide instant relief for others.
Lying on your side/belly: Place your baby on your forearms or knees and let her head rest on your hands. It is easiest to calm an infant when he is lying on his side or stomach. (Note: Babies should never sleep on their sides or stomachs because this increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.)
Remember, every baby is different. Some need to be swaddled and shushed, while others won’t calm down until you add rocking. For those children who are especially fussy, they usually need four to five ” s” to activate their calming reflex.
Other strategies for dealing with a hernia baby
Dr. LoFrumento says, “It’s important to know that a hernia is not your fault and that it has nothing to do with you, your feeding, your parenting or anything else.” . If you’re desperate to get your baby to stop crying, you can try these tips until you find the one that works best for your baby
Talk to your doctor about probiotics. Some studies have shown that probiotics can relieve colic symptoms. In an Italian study of 83 infants, those who used Roetel’s cheese cried 75% less after 28 days , and those who used simethicone oil cried 25% less. Unfortunately, in another small study, researchers in Finland found no relief in symptoms after giving other probiotics to infants with painful hernias for two weeks. To try this approach, look for probiotics made specifically for infants or buy infant formula containing Lactobacillus royi. Follow your doctor’s instructions for using this beneficial bacteria. You can also ask your pediatrician to switch to a soy-based, pre-digested or hypoallergenic formula, such as Similac Alimentum.
Try your diet. If you are breastfeeding, consider eliminating dairy products or vegetables like cabbage and cauliflower that can cause bloating. Also limit your caffeine intake and consider giving up spicy foods. If your baby’s crying doesn’t improve in a few weeks, you can go back to your normal diet.
Take the gas out. Excess gas is one of the causes of colic. Put your baby’s legs to your chest for a few minutes to get rid of it. Frequent burping while breastfeeding can also help. You can also switch to a different bottle to limit the amount of air your baby inhales.
Use transportation. Take your baby and pace back and forth across the room. Researchers found that babies who were held in their arms, placed in a front carrier, or slung in a sling cried much less per day on average than those who were not held at all.
Give your baby a massage. Massage is a helpful tool to promote relaxation in infants. Stroke his back, belly, arms and legs gently and lovingly. To perfect your technique, take a class or read a book on the art of infant massage.
Take a break. New mothers often feel guilty or self-indulgent for wanting to spend time apart from their newborns. But doctors say putting your baby in a safe place, such as a crib or a baby enclosure, and walking away – even for just a few minutes – is exactly what you should do when the crying threatens to push your limits, says Dr. LoFrumento: “Even standing on the other side of a wall or door to reduce the volume of the crying can reduce the tension.” .
Why is it so important to separate yourself from the situation? There is a strong link between excessive crying and infant injury. A survey of more than 3,250 parents of babies in the Netherlands showed that more than 5 percent of parents had slapped, choked or shaken their child at least once because of crying.
Check out hernia support groups in person or online. Connect with moms’ groups so you don’t feel alone. “It’s easy to convince yourself that you’re the only one, that you have a problem, that people think you’re a bad parent because you can’t get your baby to stop crying,” says Laura Jana, M.D., co-author of “Bringing Your Newborn Home” with the American Academy of Pediatrics. “Getting support keeps your head above water and allows you to keep some distance and a little bit of foresight.”
Beware of over-the-counter products. Bryan Vartabedian, M.D., author of the book Colic Solved, is not a fan of gripe water, a generic term for a variety of folkloric, naturopathic liquid drops. Small doses of anti-gas drops like Mylicon may not help or hurt, says Dr. Vatabedian.
Consider professional help. Crying and fatigue can trigger marital pain, postpartum depression, breastfeeding failure, abuse, excessive doctor visits, overuse of baby medications, smoking, car accidents, and possibly obesity because you make bad food decisions when you’re too tired,” says Dr. Karp. . So, consider consulting with your doctor about a mental health professional who can help you deal with the effects of a crying baby.
The bottom line.
Maureen Keefe, RN, PhD, founder of Picky Baby Clinic in Denver, Colorado, and Charleston, South Carolina, says parents tend to give up on ways to stop crying too soon. She notes that you have to stick with the intervention for five minutes to get the most benefit. If your baby is still crying after five minutes, don’t get discouraged; just take the next strategy.
Hernias are just as difficult for parents as they are for children, so it’s important to take care of yourself during this difficult time, too. “Accept your feelings of anger, resentment and sometimes even rage,” says Stephanie Mihalas, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and founder of the Child, Adolescent and Family Psychological Services Center in Los Angeles. Such feelings are normal, as long as you don’t act on them.