7 Reasons Why Breastfed Babies Can Get Colic
Table Of Contents
Can Breastfeeding Cause Baby Colic?
Learn more about this study
Side Note: What is "Breastfeeding Success"?
- “How to hold the baby while breastfeeding”
- “How to put the breast into the baby’s mouth”
- “Transmission of milk from the mother to the baby”
1 Poor Attachment
What Are The Signs Of Poor Attachment?
- Pain and damage to nipples: sore nipples / fissures.
- Breastmilk not removed effectively: engorgement.
- Apparent poor milk supply: baby unsatisfied / wants to feed a lot / refuses to suckle.
- Breasts produce less milk: baby frustrated / refuses to suckle / fails to gain weight
What Can You Do?
2 Offering Both Breasts During One Feed
Learn more about this study
What Can You Do?
3 The “infant hyperlactation syndrome”
What Can You Do?
- Express some milk before you feed your baby!
- Try to lay down flat on your back with your baby on top of your breast! Gravity will often do the job to avoid fast milk ejection.
- Feed your baby in a calm atmosphere! No unnecessary distractions, no TV, no sound, no nothing!
4 Low “Breastfeeding Self-Efficacy”
Side Note: How do scientists assess "breastfeeding self-efficacy"?
- I can always hold my baby comfortably during breastfeeding.
- I can always take my baby off the breast without pain to myself
- I can always manage to keep up with my baby’s breastfeeding demands.
How Is Low Self-Efficacy Related To Baby Colic?
What Can You Do?
5 The Breastfeeding Mother’s Diet
If that’s something you are interested in, read my blog post: “Anti-colic diets for breastfeeding mothers: do they work?“
In this blog post, I will tell you everything about what we currently know about the effect of a mother’s diet on baby colic. Moreover, I will show you, which foods you should eliminate from your diet according to scientists.
6 Exposure To Nicotine While Breastfeeding
It has been suggested by numerous scientific studies to date, that smoking during pregnancy can cause multiple problems in a baby. One of those negative effects could be developing baby colic according to many scientists (20, 21)! In fact, the risk of developing baby colic seems to be twice as high when the mother is smoking during pregnancy.
But what about smoking after pregnancy when a mother is breastfeeding? Is it likely for a breastfed baby to develop colic when her mother is smoking?
Indeed, maternal smoking has been identified as potential risk factor for colic after the baby is born too. For example, a study from 2000 found that colic is more frequent in infants of smoking mothers (22).
The finding that smoking could promote baby colic was also confirmed by another study one year later (23). Interestingly, that study did not even focus on maternal smoking, but on environmental tobacco smoke in general.
What does that mean?
Imagine that a baby is exposed to nicotine from a smoking nanny and not from her breastfeeding smoking mother. Is the baby likely to develop colic in such a scenario too?
According to the study, the answer is “yes” (23). The scientists have found a positive link between a baby being exposed to environmental tobacco smoke and her colic symptoms (23).
Therefore, keep in mind that being exposed to tobacco smoke is always bad for the baby!
What Can You Do?
7 Administration Of Antidepressants During Breastfeeding
What Can You Do?
Can Breastfeeding Protect Against Colic If Done Correctly?
Should I Stop Breastfeeding To Avoid Colic?
The simple answer is: no, absolutely not!
First, please note that colic in babies can have many reasons apart from factors related to breastfeeding! Because of that, you can never be sure if breastfeeding itself is the very reason which causes colic! In other words, even if you stop breastfeeding, your baby could still develop colic symptoms.
Next, keep in mind that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any possible negative effects by far!
Breastmilk is the best possible form of nutrition for your baby. It provides your baby with all the macro- and micronutrients that she so urgently needs for her development.
On top of that, it offers your baby tons of other health-related benefits.
Furthermore, keep in mind that switching to formula can actually make things worse for your baby! That is, because you do not know how your baby is going to react to cow’s milk, goat’s milk or soy milk.
If you believe that factors related to breastfeeding could be the cause for your baby to get colic, please talk to a doctor! Alternatively, ask a member of staff at the hospital where you gave birth to your baby! They will be more than happy to help you!
Many moms have asked me for reasons why breastfed babies can get colic.
The truth is, even breastfed babies can get colic and there are many reasons for this:
First, breastfeeding itself can be the problem: A baby may not be properly attached to the breast or she may take in lots of air during the feed.
Moreover, if the mother offers both breasts during one feed, or, if the baby drinks too much milk too quickly, the abundance of lactose in her intestines could cause colic symptoms.
Furthermore, a mother’s low perceived ability to breastfeed (i.e. low “breastfeeding self-efficacy”) could increase the likelihood of colic in babies.
It does not mean that a mother with low self-efficacy is less capable of breastfeeding her baby. She just has not received proper training.
Next, some scientists found that a mother’s diet could cause colic symptoms in their breastfed babies. But the issue is controversial!
Moreover, breastfed babies might develop colic when their mother is smoking. This might not only be the case if the mother herself smokes! It seems to be sufficient to expose the baby to environmental tobacco smoke (for example, smoke from a smoking partner).
Finally, it is important to be careful with the administration of antidepressants while breastfeeding! They could be another potential cause of colic symptoms in babies.
(1) Zengin, H., Cinar, N., & Altinkaynak, S. (2016): Approach to infantile colic baby. In: Journal of Human Rhythm. 2016; 2(1), 1−5.
(2) Yalçın, SS., Kuşkonmaz, BB. (2011): Relationship of lower breastfeeding score and problems in infancy. In: Breastfeed Medicine. 2011 Aug; 6(4): 205-8.
(3) Aktas, S., Küçük A.D. (2018): Correlation between Infantile Colic and Maternal Breastfeeding Self-Efficacy, Breastfeeding Success and Breast Milk Amount. In: Journal of Tropical Pediatrics. 2018, Aug; 21.
(4) Mohammadi, D., et al. (2017): Analysis of the Concept of Successful Breast-Feeding. In: International Journal of Medical Research & Health Sciences. 2017, 6 (10): 65-75.
(5) Inch, S. (2006): Breastfeeding problems. In: Community Practitioner. 2016, May; 79 (5): 165-167.
(6) La Leche League GB: I think my baby’s got colic. Accessed on 05/15/2019: https://www.laleche.org.uk/i-think-my-babys-got-colic/
(7) WHO/UNICEF: Breastfeeding counselling: a training course. Participants manual. Part One. Sessions 1-9. WHO/CDR: 93.5; UNICEF/NUT: 93.3. https://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/infantfeeding/bf_counselling_participants_manual1.pdf
(8) Newman, Jack (2009): Colic in breastfed baby. In: Pathways to family wellness. 2009, Summer.
(9) Evans, K.; Evans, R. and Simmer, K. (1995): Effect of the method of breast feeding on breast engorgement, mastitis and infantile colic. In: Acta Paediatrica. 1995, Aug; 84 (8): 849-52.
(10) Livingstone, V. (1996): Too much of a good thing. Maternal and infant hyperlactation syndromes. In: Canadian Family Physician. 1996, Jan; 42: 89-99.
(11) Dennis CL, Faux S. (1999): Development and psychometric testing of the Breastfeeding Self-Efficacy Scale. In: Research in Nursing & Health. 1999; 22 (5): 399–409.
(12) Hill David J., et al. (2005): Effect of a low-allergen maternal diet on colic among breastfed infants: a randomized, controlled trial. In: Pediatrics. 2005 Nov; 116 (5): e709-15.
(13) Jakobsson I. and Lindberg T. (1978): Cow’s milk as a cause of infantile colic in breast-fed infants. In: Lancet. 1978 Aug 26; 2 (8087): 437-9.
(14) Jakobsson I. and Lindberg T. (1983): Cow’s milk proteins cause infantile colic in breast-fed infants: a double-blind crossover study. In: Pediatrics. 1983 Feb; 71 (2): 268-71.
(15) Lust KD, Brown JE and Thomas, W (1996): Maternal intake of cruciferous vegetables and other foods and colic symptoms in exclusively breast-fed infants. In: Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 1996 Jan; 96(1): 46-8.
(16) Iacovou M., et al. (2018): Reducing the maternal dietary intake of indigestible and slowly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates is associated with improved infantile colic: a proof-of-concept study. In: Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. 2018 Apr; 31 (2): 256-265.
(17) Gordon, M., et al. (2018): Dietary modifications for infantile colic. In: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2018 Oct; 10: 1-81.
(18) Evans RW, et al. (1981): Maternal diet and infantile colic in breast-fed infants. In: Lancet. 1981 Jun 20; 1 (8234): 1340-2.
(19) Gulbahtiyar Demirel, RN., et al. (2018): Factors Affecting Colic in Infants and the Applications of Mothers in Turkey. In: International Journal of Caring Sciences. 2018 May-August; 11 (2): 1301-1310.
(20) Søndergaard, C., et al. (2001): Smoking during pregnancy and infantile colic. In: Pediatrics. 2001 Aug; 108 (2): 342-6.
(21) Canivet, CA., et al. (2008): Infantile colic, maternal smoking and infant feeding at 5 weeks of age. In: Scandinavian Journal of Public Health. 2008 May; 36 (3): 284-91.
(22) Reijneveld, SA (2000): Infantile colic: maternal smoking as potential risk factor. In: Archives of Disease in Childhood. 2000 Oct; 83 (4): 302-3.
(23) Gaffney, KF. (2001): Infant exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. In: Journal of Nursing Scholarship. 2001; 33 (4): 343-7.
(24) Lester, BM. (1993): Possible association between fluoxetine hydrochloride and colic in an infant. In: Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 1993 Nov; 32(6): 1253-5.
(25) Engler, C. A., et al. (2012): Breastfeeding may improve nocturnal sleep and reduce infantile colic: potential role of breast milk melatonin. In: European Journal of Pediatrics. 2012 Apr; 171 (4): 729-32.
Medical Disclaimer: The information on this page is not intended to diagnose, prevent, mitigate, treate or cure any disease! It is not personal medical advice. We recommend that you ask a doctor whenver you are looking for medical advice!
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RELATED BABY MASSAGE COURSES
This blog post explains the 12 things that pregnant women can try to prevent colic in their baby.
This blog post summarizes what we currently know about the effect of a breastfeeding mother’s on baby colic. Moreover, it educates about what foods not to eat while breastfeeding a colic baby (according to scientists) and what mothers need to consider before making a decision if they should restrict their diet or not.
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