Manage the Effects of Infant Colic on Adults - Tips to Preserve Your Health and Sanity
Is your baby the most important thing in the world? Well, yes and no. In order to take good care of a fussy baby you need to act as if YOU are the most important thing in the world. Managing the effects of infant colic on adults and other household members is critical in preserving the family unit intact. Trust me when I say the emotional scars of infant colic last years. Read these simple suggestions and try to incorporate as many of them into your daily life as possible.
Preserve Your Health
Right now it is especially important for you to sleep as much as possible, eat well and stay healthy. Remember, you are making energy for two. You need to eat an appropriate quantity and variety of healthy foods. Study the ingredient labels on any supplements you are taking to make sure every ingredient is appropriate for your baby. Be sure to get some gentle form of exercise at least three times a week.
Read more about quick and healthy snacks for nursing moms.
Read more about sleeping positioners and sleeping positions for babies and infants with reflux.
Protect Your Clothing
As odd as it may sound - constantly being spit-up on is very depressing. It's also depressing to change your clothing multiple times during the day, or to have every shirt you own be barf-stained. Cotton cloth diapers are the largest and most inexpensive burp cloths you can find while Burp Catchers have an ingenious pocket to catch the stream before it runs down your back and come with cute trim. They both help keep you fresh, dry and stain free.
Ask For Help
Recruit friends, grandparents, extended family or trusted neighbors, including older responsible kids to come hold the baby or entertain your older children while you take naps or complete chores. It’s important for you to have some time to regroup both physically and mentally. Even just 10 – 20 minutes of personal time and a shower can totally change your frame of mind.
If your budget permits, hire a doula once or twice a week until you feel like things are back in your control. At www.dona.org (Doulas of North America) you will find listings of doulas in your area. In the Seattle area, see www.naps-doulas.org/index.html . Also consider hiring some help around the house. It may be within your budget to have a housecleaner come just once a month.
Change of Scenery
If you feel completely overwhelmed just thinking about leaving the house then you need to get out! Don’t worry that you will probably have spit-up on your shirt or your baby. People understand that babies spit-up. Learning to manage day-to-day activities with a baby with reflux can also do wonders in recovering any lost self-confidence you may have suffered. Just be sure to pack enough spare clothing, bibs and burp cloths. Some good places to go are:
- coffee shops
- large book stores
- public libraries during special infant/toddler program hours
- indoor malls
- movie theaters with crying rooms or special "mommy matinees"
Sometimes simple or silly things can help you maintain a positive attitude. If listening to Motown or Disco always makes you happy try that if you need a pick-me-up. If your baby objects you can always use headphones. Blowing bubbles is almost like doing deep breathing exercises and can be very calming. Perhaps looking at old photos will trigger good memories. And don’t underestimate the power of a quick phone conversation with a spouse, good friend or family member.
Many communities have parent and baby activities such as gymnastics, swim lessons, yoga or dance classes. The point of these activities is not so much the workout or the lesson as learning to interact in a new way with your baby. They also get you out of the house and give you the chance to make new friends, increasing your support network. Check with your local YMCA for financial assistance if you cannot afford these programs on your own.
Lower Personal Expectations
Your neighbor who just had a baby may cook dinner every night, keep her house clean and still find time to sing in the church choir but that doesn’t mean that you should be able to manage all these tasks. You have a baby with reflux. Let your house and other chores go while you learn how to make your baby comfortable. It’s important that you are calm, well rested, and as stress-free as possible. Harboring unrealistic expectations of yourself will not benefit you or your baby.
Communicate Needs with Immediate Family Members
As with any baby’s arrival, it’s important that you communicate your feelings and needs, especially with spouses or other children in the house. Mothers in particular are emotionally hardwired to respond to a baby’s cries and are typically the ones spending most of the time feeding and caring for newborns (not to discredit any of you dads who are doing equal duty!) As such, mothers may be stressed, exhausted, hormonal and not at all themselves. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and frustrated but it’s important to communicate those feelings to your immediate family. This is a time of upheaval for the entire household and it’s difficult for everyone. Open communication can help prevent future feelings of guilt or resentment.
Infant Reflux Forums
You are not alone! There are many chat boards out there started by parents who feel just as you do. It’s helpful to “talk” to others who are going through exactly what you are. Some great chat sites can be found at www.infantreflux.org, www.infantrefluxdisease.com, www.reflux.org, and health.groups.yahoo.com/group/breastfeedingreflux. www.postpartum.net is a post partum resource for moms, dads and other family members experiencing post partum depression. They may have local chapters in your area.
Many areas have parenting support groups that meet several times monthly. Your pediatrician or mother’s programs at your area hospitals may be able to help you find support groups in your area. www.lalecheleague.org and www.infantreflux.org are also good places to look for local support groups. In Seattle see www.pepsgroup.org. If you can’t find one in your community consider starting one.
Books and Articles
There are several books out there that are written by parents of babies with reflux. Life on the Reflux Roller Coaster by Roni MacLean and Jean McNeil, and Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux by Tracy and Mike Davenport are two. By purchasing these books through www.infantrefluxdisease.com you help fund their free brochure and support programs.
I've been there several times and have felt every range of emotion you are. If you are at the end of your rope or want some assurance that things will get better please email or phone me between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Pacific Time Monday through Friday.
Wishing you sleep and hugs,
Need to cook dinner but can't put the baby down?
Find Moby Wraps™ and other products to soothe the fussy and reflux babe at our Pollywog online store