Can I Mix Formula With Breast Milk Instead Of Water Working With Colic and Postpartum Depression

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Working With Colic and Postpartum Depression

Colic is characterized by inconsolable crying that usually lasts 3 or more hours a day and several hours at night for no apparent reason. You’ve checked all the obvious things, diapers, is the baby hungry? Too hot? Too cold? Fever? Teething? Ears? No matter what you do, the baby is uncomfortable and usually spits up quite a bit after feeding. Then the crying starts. You try to walk the baby, sometimes it helps, but not for long. Eventually, exhausted from crying, your baby drifts off to sleep in your arms. At the same time, your anxiety level rises to an unbearable level.

You take the child to the doctor, and after a thorough examination, the diagnosis is colic. The doctor says not to worry, it usually subsides in about 3-4 months. Sound familiar? Well, it’s actually 3-4 months if you’re lucky. In some cases, it lasts more than a year. In my case, my sons colic lasted for 9 months. If your child is really struggling, it feels like a life sentence to the parents. What to do? Finding the right fit for your child may take some time, but is well worth the effort. I tried to cut out foods because I was breastfeeding. Then after three months of breastfeeding I switched to formula. I tried different formulas, different feeding schedules, different bottles to reduce gas, nothing helped. Here’s the good news: there are a number of well-tested old traditional remedies that actually work and are safe for baby.

I wish I had known this then: babies’ stomachs and spleens are underdeveloped. This means they may have a harder time digesting food. The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) school has long held that overfeeding a baby can cause colic and that breastfeeding or formula-fed babies should be scheduled. Feed every 3 1/2 hours while gradually reducing the amount of food by 1/3 at each feeding. This makes sense to me as it would put less stress on an already damaged digestive system. This is a good reason not to give your baby solid food before 6 months of age. I also recommend not introducing spicy or complex foods before the child is 7-8 years old. It is not until this time that their digestive system is fully developed.

There are TCM doctors who specialize in pediatric Chinese medicine and have a lot to offer in the area of ​​colic and postpartum depression. These doctors, who are formally trained in herbology, can treat your baby with safe and effective herbal remedies for a specific case of colic. I would personally recommend picking up Keeping Your Child Healthy with Chinese Medicine: A Parents Guide to Care and Prevention of Common Childhood Diseases by Bob Flaws. He has worked extensively in this field for over 30 years with excellent results and is a great resource. You can also contact the Traditional Chinese Medicine School in your area or here in Boulder, Colorado at 303-581-9955.

But what if your child is skinny or a child who you don’t think can afford to cut back on food, what then? There are a number of herbal remedies that help babies digest their food (formula or breast milk), alleviating symptoms that cause discomfort. Even children who thrive can benefit immensely from them. Over the past few years, when I’ve discussed this with parents, I’ve heard many stories about how these remedies worked and essentially saved them months of agony. Two remedies I would recommend are Ibaba and Gripe Water. You can find many versions of these at health food stores or online.

Advice for moms: It will get better, I promise, but it may take a while. Get help. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have support from family and friends, your doctor, or other moms who have been through this. You are not so alone here and there is a lot of help out there. Involve your partner as much as possible and try to be patient with them as they may have little knowledge of what you are going through. Take breaks during the day to be away for a bit to regroup. Leave the child with your partner, grandmother or close friend for a while to get some air, at least 30 minutes a day. This is the key to regaining your strength to care for a sick child. Try talking to your doctor or nurse about this, they can be very supportive.

Postpartum depression (also treatable with herbal remedies) can be accompanied by colic, as it was with me. Once your hormones are back in balance, your body adjusts to nursing, things can get tough. The resulting lack of sleep can lead to severe depression, confusion and frustration. Call your doctor if you feel overwhelmed. I was scared, the depression was so intense and I cried all the time. No one seemed to be able to help me with this. I finally decided I needed to talk to a doctor. I called him and explained through massive uncontrollable crying how scared I was. My depression had reached an unbearable level, I was worried and afraid that I would not be able to cope anymore.

He said the following:

“Clea…Are you getting out of bed?” i said yes

“Are you doing your daily chores, cooking and doing laundry?” i said yes

“Taking care of yourself and the kids?” i said yes

Then after a long pause he said…

“I think you’ll be fine.”

I said, “Really… how do you know that? I’m really scared and it’s too hard…”

She went on to explain, “You wouldn’t make that call. Your spouse or a family member would call me saying, ‘She won’t get out of bed and do her daily chores.’ That’s when I get a little worried.” It helped me realize that I was fine, that colic and postpartum depression were common parenting issues. She also assured me that the baby would get better.

But a colicky baby and a mother with postpartum depression can be overwhelming, especially when you have another baby in the house you’re trying to care for as well. Look for the help you need, it’s there. Dealing with colic and postpartum depression is hard, you’re not crazy, and you’re not alone.

When I share stories with other moms who have survived a full baby or the baby blues, we usually get teary-eyed just walking down memory lane. It was embarrassing for me to admit when something was too difficult to handle. I didn’t want the rest of the world to think I couldn’t do it. Colic and postpartum depression are simply events in a parent’s life when asking for help is the best thing you can do for yourself, your baby, and your family.

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