I’ve written before about the challenges we faced with our first-born during her first four months. Her excessive crying seemed never-ending and the quest to get a moment’s peace and quiet or a couple of hours’ kip became all-consuming.
The reality of infant colic
Motherhood was nothing like I expected it to be and I felt rejected by my baby – the one who was supposed to need and love me the most. Following discussions with the health visitor and trips to the GP, I was told that it was ‘just a bit of colic’. She would grow out of it over time.
I’d never heard of infant colic before then, but it affects around 140,000 (1 in 5) babies each year and is the name given for excessive, frequent crying in a baby that appears otherwise healthy. Thankfully, it isn’t harmful and usually the symptoms stop by four – six months of age.
Yet because it isn’t harmful and it goes away on its own, I didn’t feel like I had much support. I simply had to suck it up and wait for better days to come. As parents we have to accept that a few months’ sleep deprivation is the small price we have to pay for bringing an otherwise healthy baby into the world.
Signs and symptoms of colic include:
- Intense crying bouts
- Crying in the late afternoon or evening that lasts several hours
- The baby’s face is red and flushed when they cry
- The baby clenches their fists, draws their knees up or arches their back while
Infant Colic Awareness Month
Like me, many new mums are not even aware of infant colic prior to the birth of their child and the reality can come as a bit of a shock.
This is why Infacol, Britain’s Number One Colic Remedy, and Cry-Sis, a parenting charity dedicated to supporting parents through excessive infant crying, have launched the first Infant Colic Awareness Month this September.
Colic Awareness Month strives to educate and support parents to ensure they can experience the joys of parenthood to the full.
Our experience as new parents
I regret that I didn’t enjoy those days as a new mum. Of course I loved my baby to bits, but I feel like I missed out on the joy and contentment experienced by other new parents (and which I’ve since experienced with our second non-colic baby).
Back then I wished each week by, hoping that things would get easier with each new month. It wasn’t uncommon for me to cry in the middle of the night – following hours of trying to get her to sleep – or to lie in bed with my hands over my ears to block out her screams, even if only for a minute…Sleep deprivation really is the devil.
So although infant colic isn’t harmful to the affected baby, I can testify that the effects of sleepless nights on mum and dad are huge!
Research by Infacol has shown that more than half (56%) of British mums say a lack of sleep has affected their relationship with their partner, and a further third (38%) say it has affected their relationship with their children. Sleep deprivation is also well-known for negatively impacting on concentration and mood.
The link between infant colic and post-natal depression is not yet known, and it is clear that further research into the condition is needed.
But for now, at least the launch of a Colic Awareness Month is a step towards helping new parents know that they’re not alone.
Disclosure: This is a collaborative post