“Colic is defined by the “rule of three” crying for more than three hours per day, for more than three days per week, and for longer than three weeks in an infant who is well-fed and otherwise healthy. Onset is usually at two weeks of age and usually resolves by four months of age. (Roberts et al. 2004)
So although colic is considered to be self limiting try explaining that to the desperate parents of a colicky baby especially if we can do things to help!
The jury is still out on exactly what causes colic but some theories include:
- Hormones that cause belly pain
- A sensitivity to light, noise or too much stimulation
- Poor latch
- A developing nervous system
Another theory is that following the physically and psychologically traumatic experience of birth there may be a lingering stress effect in the infant. Lets face it whether born by a natural vaginal delivery or with intervention such as c-section or ventouse, being born and giving birth is probably the most intense/crazy/physically demanding/stressful thing you will ever do/go through (and that goes for mum & Bub!)
When we experience stress of any kind our sympathetic nervous system takes over which is our FIGHT- FLIGHT-FREEZE response while our parasympathetic nervous system responsible for REST & DIGEST, is down regulated. So, when our nervous system is prioritising “running away from a lion or tiger” (ie. in a state of stress) instead of the bodily functions required for resting and digesting, things can start to get backed up in the GIT and feel very uncomfortable/painful. This is what some researchers think is happening with Colic resulting in an unsettled infant. (On a side note this is also one of the theories for causes of IBS hmmm interesting!).
Osteopaths can utilise many gentle and safe techniques which can address tissues in and around the GIT, diaphragm and Vagus nerve to help induce a more relaxed and comfortable state for the infant (not to mention mum&dad). Your Osteopath will often also suggest some management strategies to be implemented at home to keep Bub comfortable and calm.