When you are a new parent and you bring home your brand new baby, you would expect that it’s all fun and games from here on in. You’ll be spending your days playing with them and making so many beautiful memories. Wrong.
Being a parent is bloody hard work and it’s not always going to be as glamorous as first expected. There’s going to be times when you doubt yourself and times when being a parent is just too much to cope with. I’ve been through these feelings all in the first 3 months of my little boy being born.
With Austin, we have been faced with so many problems. It’s been one thing after another. Once one problem was solved, we were instantly faced with another. It’s been both physically and emotionally draining! Let me run you through all the delightful issues we’ve faced and how we tackled them…
What is Tongue-Tie?
Tongue-tie happens when the string of tissue under your baby’s tongue which attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth is too short. It can restrict the amount that your baby can extend the tongue out of its mouth which can cause feeding problems. With Austin, his tongue tie wasn’t picked up straight away and caused problems with his ability to breast feed. His failure to latch onto the breast meant that he lost 11% of his body weight in the first week of being born. This was something that worried us greatly as we felt like we were feeding him wrong. This wasn’t the case thankfully! Our little boy was just a slow starter!
What to look out for!
- Issues latching on
- Unsettled during feeds
- Taking an eternity to finish a feed
- Dribbling during feeds
How did we tackle this?
We actually didn’t do a lot to tackle the tongue-tie. The problem can sometimes solve itself if the tissue stretches. As Austin clearly wasn’t capable of getting a boob in his mouth, we had little option but to bottle feed. It look a long time to get his weight back up to where it should be but eventually we got there. There is the opportunity for babies with tongue-tie to have a procedure to have the string of tissue snipped but this can take several weeks, which is not ideal when you have a hungry baby that’s struggling to feed.
For more information about tongue tie click here.
What is colic?
Colic is basically a term that is used to describe a baby that cries excessively and cannot be soothed. Speaking from experience, this is horrible! Trying to calm down a newborn baby that is inconsolable is one of the hardest things I’ve experienced so far. Watching your child cry for hours on end will drive you stir crazy firstly, but will probably cause a lot of emotional distress for you as a parent. This behaviour usually starts at about the 2 week stage and lasts until around 4 months. Austin is 11 weeks old and we are still having these issues.
What to look out for!
- Excessive crying
- Arching the back and tensing up
- Crying usually in the late afternoon or evening
How to tackle the problem
I hate to break this one to you, but there is no simple solution to this problem. First you need to try and determine the reason that your baby cries so much. Whether it’s tongue tie, reflux, constipation, wind problems…whatever it may be. The best thing to do is speak to your doctor and try different techniques. One thing you can do to help is just shower your baby in love and attention when they are crying. It may be frustrating but you have to remember that your baby is crying for hours because they are uncomfortable and in pain so just comfort them as best you can. With Austin I find myself constantly kissing his face until he calms down. Not sure if it helps, I just enjoy doing it!
If it’s getting towards bed time and you are worried about settling your baby for the bedtime routine, try dimming the lights right down so that it decreases the amount of stimulation. One purchase that really helped us settle Austin is a MyHummy which is a teddy that plays white noise that helps settle a baby to sleep. Check them out here. We attached one to Austin’s bed and he’s always slept really well through the night.
There’s no quick fix for colic, so I’m afraid you will just have to be patient and ride it out. The important thing to remember is that you are doing everything you can for that child and just because your baby cries a lot, that doesn’t make you a bad parent. What makes a good parent is doing everything you can despite how hard it is.
What is Silent Reflux?
Silent reflux is a difficult term to understand, especially for a first time parent. Before I became a father I’d never even heard of it. It basically involves your baby’s stomach acid coming back up to the esophagus and causing throat discomfort. What makes this worse is that you can hear the acid moving up through the body and into the throat area. It will cause your baby great discomfort and will cause them to cry excessively. For some reason this also seems to become worse towards the afternoon/evening period and can be quite distressing.
What to look out for!
- Sore throat
- Discomfort after a feed
- Gulping action
- Tensing up their legs and back
How to treat it
Babies apparently outgrow silent reflux by the time that they are a year old. If they are suffering from this you don’t want to be waiting that long! There is action you can take to make your baby more comfortable. The best advice I can give is to keep your baby in a more upright position during and after a feed. Lying flat can cause more discomfort so try to sit them up as much as possible.
Another thing to think about is how to hold your baby when they are experiencing the reflux. They will be attempting to arch their backs and straighten out their legs so the best hold is across your body as seen in the picture below.
This position will allow your baby’s body to be straighter and it’s also a good one to get your baby to sleep.
There is medication that you can take that will help your child but it can only be given to you by a doctor. When we first went they prescribed us baby gaviscon which helped for a short time but we soon realised that this wasn’t going to be strong enough. We went back a week later and we were given Ranitidine which is a stronger medication. We give this to Austin three times a day and this seems to have solved the problem. Doctors seem to be hesitant about giving out this stuff and they try and exhaust every other option first before trying it. It’s been a life saver for us so far though so it’s definitely worth pushing for.
So after all of these problems, we still didn’t have a happy or content baby so we went back to the doctors. We suspected that Austin may have an intolerance to the formula that we were using, so we were prescribed hypoallergenic formula. The idea behind this is that it breaks down the protein in the milk so that the stomach cannot recognise it, meaning that your baby will be less likely to throw it back up. One thing I will say about this milk…it absolutely stinks! My partner describes it as smelling like wallpaper paste. It’s vile stuff but we’ve already seen a massive difference. Austin is more relaxed and seems to be a generally happier baby.
It’s the hardest task in the world trying to determine what’s wrong with your baby but I’m here to tell you that things will eventually get better. Once you turn that corner, parenting will become enjoyable again. Austin is far from perfect and the issues still raise their ugly heads from time to time but he’s on his way to acting like a normal little boy.
If anyone would like some advice about any of the issues that I’ve mentioned in this post then feel free to get in touch and I can share some more of my experiences. If I can help just one parent realise that they are not alone then that’s all I’ve set out to do.