I’m often contacted by parents with babies under 7 weeks because their babies have colic. When I teach baby massage groups I usually recommend waiting until 7 weeks. It’s because as a group it’s easier to manage, because we can rule out certain conditions and your baby will be more alert. But for conditions such as colic, learning massage earlier can be beneficial.
What is colic?
NHS Choices tells us it’s the name for “excessive, frequent crying in a baby who appears to be otherwise healthy. It’s a common problem that affects up to one in five babies”. Excessive crying is considered as more than three hours a day, more than three days a week for at least three weeks. Some consider colic as trapped wind, but there is no definite answer.
What are the signs?
Signs of colic can be the baby crying at a similar time each evening; appearing in pain and raising their legs. It can be distressing for parents and also exhausting. Even though you know it won’t last for ever, when you’re going through it not knowing when it will end it can seem relentless.
Can baby massage help?
Baby massage is suggested as one strategy to try to help with colic. When I get asked to teach massage focusing on colic I usually provide a one to one session, so we can focus on the issue but I will also teach the whole baby massage sequence, so you have your toolkit ready as your baby gets older.
If your baby cries at the same time each evening it can be beneficial to give a tummy massage an hour before the crying usually starts. This can help to move any wind and calm your baby. Stomach massage should always be clockwise direction. If your baby is experiencing discomfort you can massage your baby’s tummy while you hold them upright – don’t feel your baby has to be led down to receive a massage. In a perfect world your baby will be led unclothed on a baby mat while you use oil and have fun massaging but it’s ok if you’re holding your baby and it’s through their clothes. It’s what works for you and your baby.
Ideally you want to introduce your baby to massage while they are not crying. This is important for positive association to and also teaches them the massage is a pleasant thing that is to be enjoyed. You can try massage a few times in the day and then begin to use it when you feel you need to use it more. The stomach massage doesn’t need to be for long – literally a few minutes. You can begin by using one or two fingers and very slowly working in a clockwise direction around the small intestine, which is around the belly button. If you know there is no risk of ‘clicky hips’ you can also lay your baby down and slowly bring their bended knees up towards their chest before lowering them back down – repeat this five to ten times.
You may find these techniques are enough to help, but if not, you may want to consider learning additional massage techniques to try to help your baby and empower yourself through this difficult time
Louise is a holistic therapist who owns Therapy Centre, Bristol 9HB, a clinic offering a range of holistic and beauty therapies. Louise offers reflexology, aromatherapy, aromatology, holistic massage, Indian head massage, reiki, baby massage and story massage. She is a mum of two boys and when she is not working she enjoys getting outdoors with her family. For further information visit louise-morgan.co.uk or contact her clinic on 01275 217160