The Baby that Cries

The Baby that Cries

--Dr. Ann Croghan, PT, DPT, CLC, CAPP-OB certified

My first child.

She was so easy that she left me thinking that I was an amazing parent.  She wasn't an "easy baby".... I was just amazing. I would put her in a Boba wrap and go out to dinner, go to concerts, take hikes. 

My second child.

He cried. He cried so much that my first child thought that his favorite song was "True Colors" from Trolls: "you with the sad eyes, don't be discouraged. I can't remember when I last saw you laughing".

Saddest. Thing. Ever.

Around 3:00pm he would start the "Purple Crying".  I tried to head it off. I would nurse him, wrap him in the Boba, walk him, sing to him, leave him in  a safe space, take warm baths with him.  He wasn't a "difficult baby"..... I just sucked. Our family stopped going to Friday Afternoon Club and Thursday's in the Park. One wrong move in bed and he would wake up screaming. 

What worked? Reminding myself that I didn't suck was the first step. Second step was using my physical therapy knowledge to figure out a solution (I didn't become a lactation counselor until he was 8 months old). Third step was accepting that sometimes there was nothing that could be done except hold him and let him know that I loved him. Rock him while he cried.

Step One: I don't suck. I'm an amazing momma. If you too have a baby that cries, this is probably the most important step to master. Sometimes babies will cry and that is not a reflection on your powers as a mother. 

Step Two: GRAVITY. Gravity matters. The best piece of breastfeeding advice I ever got was from Amanda Ogden, co-founder of the Mama'hood. In my first prenatal breastfeeding class, Amanda started class out with the statement: "Head above butt is all you will ever need to know to breastfeed. If this doesn't solve the problem, then come to my breastfeeding class".

That's it?

It's that easy?

She is a freaking genius. I used that advice with my first, but I USED that advice with the crier. 

Step Three: Accept the crying. Sometimes there just is nothing I can do except tell him I love him, tell him he is safe, and tell him that I will be with him while he cries. With this step came the loss of who I thought I was as a mother. I grieved not being the mother who took her kids dancing, who went on evening walks. I missed holding and snuggling with my first child. I learned how to be present with my baby's tears. I learned how to cry until he stopped. I learned the art of not moving. I learned that crying is a temporary problem: one day they will stop.  Please look up "Purple Crying" if you feel stuck on this step!

So what is useful in my story? How do I help other mothers who have babies that cry? Gravity matters.  Amanda Ogden is genius. If you live in Denver, you must make it to the Mama'hood.  

As a physical therapist, gravity or "head above butt" makes perfect sense.

Babies have a sphincter that takes a little while to develop tone and close. If you keep head above butt, it makes it easier for this sphincter to keep food/breastmilk down which prevents reflux.  If you have ever had reflux, you probably cried a little. Think about your little and how much reflux must hurt!

Diaper changing? Put the baby on an incline.  Don't lift their butt above their head to wipe - keep the head elevated.

A fancy incline from Serta. Image.
Bed-sharing? For the most part the weight of your body will help baby keep head above butt. For my crying baby, this was not enough. I had to be creative while remembering the safe guidelines for bed-sharing.  And all the research from Dr. James McKenna.

Co-sleeper? Prop up the head end of the sleeper.  Safely prop it up under the mattress or safely prop the bed legs up.

Nursing? Laid back or semi reclined, baby across your body.

Acid reflux medication, in both tiny humans and grown humans, can be helpful.  However, I recommend it be used with caution.  For proper digestion of proteins and nutrients we rely first on our stomach acidity.  Stomachs need to have a pH of 1.5-3.5.  If the stomach is more basic instead of acidic it decreases the ultimate ability of the digestive track to properly digest food AND a basic stomach allows for bad gut bacteria to grow and good gut bacteria to die.  The common strains of GOOD gut bacteria that seems to be missing in babies with "colic" are: bifidobacteria and lactobacilli.  Of course, having a diverse group of good bacteria seems to be key in all human health. One of my favorite articles is: The Gut Microbiome: what we do and don't know published in 2015.  Take a quick look - they have some nice pictures to help with understanding this complex topic.

In the end, my son eventually grew out of the crying. He still struggles and we have a hard time leaving the house for the evening. BUT. He is better. And I know I am an amazing momma.

Photo credit to the lovely Jenny Folman!

#breastfeeding #birth #maternalmentalhealth #purplecrying #hospitalbirth #homebirth #GERD #infantreflux #gutmicrobiome #co-sleeping #attachmentparenting #colic #infantsleep