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Colic and your Baby

Common signs of colic in your baby include:

  • episodes of irritability that start in the first few weeks following birth and last 3-4 months
  • visibly distressed infant
  • arms and legs may be pulled close to the body, or infant may be stiff, belly may be tight
  • crying lasts for hours at a time, or occurs several hours a day and several days of the week
  • baby passes gas when crying
  • baby is inconsolable

Colic is one of natures great mysteries. Nobody knows what colic really is, and yet everyone has something to say about it. Scientists have suggested possible causes being: a mother who smoked during pregnancy or who smokes around her baby, the baby’s underdeveloped nervous system, the baby’s maturing digestive tract. For a baby to be diagnosed as colicky, it must be gaining weight appropriately and be other wise healthy. Infants do grow out of colic and there are no lasting medical consequences. In the mean time, here are some tips and home remedies to ease the pain. Keeping a colic-journal is a good idea. It can help you and your care provider better understand the colic and its cause.

Reduce Stimulation: Listening to your baby cry for hours can lead you to tears and cause you great anxiety however babies are incredibly keen at picking up on the emotions of their care givers so it is incredibly important to stay calm. Hug your baby close to you, direct skin-to-skin contact is even better. Rock your baby, and avoid overstimulating lights and noises, though white noise can be soothing.

Breastfeeding: As a baby feeds, breast milk increases in fat. If you switch your baby to the other breast during feeding before he/she has finished feeding on the first side, they are consuming less fat and less calories. This means baby will be hungry more frequently.  Breast milk that is lower in fat is actually higher in milk sugar (lactose). The sugar digesting enzyme (lactase) in baby’s developing digestive tract may not be able to handle such a large quantity of milk sugar causing them to have symptoms of lactose intolerance (crying, gas, diarrhea) which can mimic colic. Switching your infant to a lactose free formula is not the solution. Talk to a lactation consultant, doula, or perinatal naturopathic doctor to ensure your breastfeeding technique is optimal for baby’s health.

Food Sensitivities: If you are breastfeeding your little one make sure to note in your colic-journal what you have eaten in the last 24 hours. Common colic causing foods in breast milk include dairy, soy, peanuts, wheat, eggs, corn, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, caffeine and chocolate. Removing these triggers from mom’s diet can significantly impact baby’s colic. Breastfeeding must not be prematurely discontinued, mom and baby must receive appropriate nutritional support on this restricted diet. If no benefit is seen after two weeks of removing these foods the dietary restrictions may be lifted. If food sensitivities are thought to be the cause, mom can get a food sensitivity test done. This test examines your immune systems response to 96 different foods that are common triggers.

Herbal Treatments: Studies have shown traditional herbal medicines have a positive effect on colic, specifically reducing crying time. Tea is the most basic and gentle way to introduce herbs to your infants digestive system. Herbs that soothe the digestive system and alleviate gas include: fennel seeds, anise seeds, lemon balm, catnip, and chamomile. To prepare: steep 1 tsp of dried herb in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. Let tea cool to room temperature. Give 1tbsp as frequently as every 10 minutes. A dropper is the easiest way to feed the tea to your infant. This fluid should not replace breastfeeding.

Probiotics: A study released earlier this year in the Pediatrics journal found that infants with colic suffered from decreased gut flora diversity. Our digestive tract is covered in lots of healthy bacteria that helps us digest our food and fight off infection. During labour and delivery a baby’s intestinal tract is colonized by the bacteria he/she is exposed to, usually in the vaginal canal. Moms who are placed on antibiotics prior to or during labour have reduced flora. As do infants who are put on antibiotics after delivery. The results of the study released in January 2013 suggest that probiotics may be useful in reducing infant colic by populating their intestinal tract with healthy flora.

When to See Your Doctor: It is important to note that not all inconsolable crying is colic. Make sure that your baby is not in pain for other reasons: injury, illness, or infection. Mom knows her baby best, if she feels something more serious is going on consult a perinatal naturopathic doctor or family physician.

When taking herbs and supplements it is important to consult a naturopathic doctor. Dosing of supplements and natural remedies is important in infants. What is known as the ‘therapeutic window’ is smaller in babies than it would be in a child or adult. A naturopathic doctor will ensure a therapeutic level is achieved while also ensuring the dose isn’t too high. Herbs and supplements are natural, however there is the possibility of an allergic reaction or an interaction with something your infant is currently on.

Moola for your Doula

As a naturopathic doctor, I quite frequently get asked “why should I pay for my health care when I get it free from my medical doctor?”. After reading an article by a colleague of mine about that very topic (check it out here:, I was inspired to write a similar one about doulas. In Peterborough, I have found doulas to be under appreciated. Many doulas in town are trying to make this their career, however since we are paid very little for our time, it is difficult! I’m hoping this blog post will help explain to expecting families what they are getting for when they pay for a doula.

I want to ask you a question, and please think about it for a few minutes: How much would you pay for something that lowers your chances of needing a c-section, improves your relationship with your baby and your partner, lowers your level of pain, helps you make informed decisions, reduces the need for interventions like forceps, vacuums and medications, AND improves your success with breastfeeding? If a drug were able to accomplish this, medical doctors would be all over it! For many women the day they give birth to their child is the most important and memorable day of their life. If you could put a price tag on a positive experience, an experienced companion, someone to hold your hand, encouragement, an extra set of hands, what would the price tag be?

Many people see a doula’s price tag and think: why on earth would I pay that much for emotional support during labour? Well folks, the mystery of how a doula sets her fee’s is uncovered here, keep reading!

When a doula accepts you as a client she is giving you her guarantee that she will be on call 24/7 for at least 2 weeks prior to your due date until you deliver your baby. Living on call is a stressful lifestyle, and not one many of us can handle. Being on call requires a high level of personal sacrifice: birthdays, work, relationships, vacations, holidays, and sleep are all sacrificed.

While a doula’s fee’s may seem intimating at first, when you factor in the amount of time a doula spends researching on your behalf, driving to and from prenatal and postnatal visits, having prenatal and postnatal visits, gas, food, parking at the hospital, supplies to fill her doula bag, she really isn’t making much moola.  The longest continuous labour support I have provided was 36 hours, after accounting for prenatal visits, postnatal visits, travel time, email and phone communication, gas, and parking at the hospital I was making approximately $5 an hour. Women do this kind of job because they have a passion for it, not because of the money.

Not only are you paying for her tangible supplies and her time, you are also paying for her training, her experience and her knowledge of pregnancy, natural labour, medicated labour, breastfeeding, postnatal care and breastfeeding. Being a doula, allows us to see how docs do it, how midwives do it, and other how doulas do it. For the most part each health care provider is only familiar with his/her way of doing things, however, doulas see it all, which is one of the things that makes us unique. Being a naturopathic doctor adds another degree of uniqueness to the care I offer my clients. Naturopathic doctors have a wider scope of practice, allowing us to use natural means to induce labour, to turn breach babies, to alleviate pain, and to help emotional momma’s cope. Naturopathic doctors are also covered under many benefit plans!

I can understand the hesitancy to pay for a doula. Putting a price tag on something as intangible as piece of mind, preparedness and reassurance is not something we are used to. I hope that by reading this article you have gained appreciation for what a doula does for her clients, and maybe even consider having a doula attend your birth.

Why Should I Pay for Naturopathic Medicine?

A good friend of mine Dr. Justin Gallant ND wrote this amazing article recently. I frequently get asked: “Why should I pay for my healthcare when I can see my family doctor for free?” Justin has a great answer to this question, read on or click here:

Why Should I Pay for Naturopathic Medicine?

Dr. Justin Gallant, ND

A couple of people have told me that they have a hard time justifying paying to see a Naturopathic Doctor.

Hopefully this analogy will help shift the mindset:

Scenario 1: You pick up a car for $500 to last you through the winter. You go to start it up and all of the sudden you hear a terrible noise coming out of the muffler. It’s just a beater so it’s reasonable to just patch up the hole. You’re going to get rid of it after the winter anyway right?

Scenario 2: You’ve saved up to buy that new car you’ve always wanted and a couple months later you hear that dreaded noise. You want this car to last at least the next 10 years. That hole is a just a small sign of things to come so it’s better to get a professional service to fix your car (i.e. mechanic or dealership) and get the whole part replaced. After spending hundreds of dollars on your car, your bank account isn’t happy but you won’t have to worry about the problem coming back for a long time.

Scenario 3: You’re born with a priceless body that scientists would not be able recreate with billions of dollars. Your body is not disposable; you want it to last a century. If you don’t want to patch up a decent car that you hope will last a decade I would hope that you would not want to just throw a patch on your body that has the potential to last 100 years. By the time you’re retired would you rather be driving around that car that you decided to patch up every time something went wrong or would you prefer to have that ol’ classic car that looks brand spankin’ new and everything runs perfectly. You’ll be the envy of all your peers. We don’t have the option to sell or trade our bodies so it’s important to seek professional services in order to keep them in optimal shape.

Regarding your health,

While those temporary patches are important while you work on finding a solution, they shouldn’t be depended on for life. It might be necessary to apply a patch until you can find the right person to fix your problem or until you can get the money to pay them but the mindset of, “That’s good enough” shouldn’t suffice. Most of us get one chance with our body and our health is what will maintain it so we can enjoy it for as long as possible.

If you’re willing to spend over $20 000 on a vehicle and dish out hundreds of dollars at a time to keep it tuned up or to repair it, you should not be afraid to treat your health the same way. You’re more important than your car.

Our bodies are miraculous machines, they can enable us to do so many things or they can literally be the death of us. We have to cherish and invest in our irreplaceable bodies rather than the replaceable material things in life. We have to look at our bodies as if they are the vehicle that will get us through the next 100 years and treat it as such.

A couple of other things to keep in mind:

•The less a Doctor is paid per patient, the more patients that Doctor will try to see

•Aside from the advanced education, research and experience your ND utilizes to help improve your health, most ND’s spend a lot of out-of-office time working on each patient’s individual case. It’s better to treat the price you pay as if it’s “per health” rather than “per hour” because you might sit down with your ND for an hour but they could spend a whole day working up your case.

•If money is an issue, just like most other professions, most ND’s will be able to work something reasonable out for you.

•If you have benefits, depending on the company you could get the first 4 visits for free or 80% off of all of your visits.

•Most people you talk to who have been to an ND have no problem paying for the service, these people realize how valuable their health is because the majority of them have realized how severely poor health can affect their life.

Breast is Best for Babe!

Two weeks ago I attended a seminar with Teresa Pitman, a La Leche League Leader for 28 years, the Executive Director of La Leche League Canada, certified childbirth educator and doula. The seminar was on the importance of breastfeeding and how healthcare practitioners can help their new-mothers be successful. Since this month is breast cancer awareness month I thought I would continue with the theme of breasts for this blog. As stated in my last post, breastfeeding can reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Breastmilk is the natural food for infants, it contains everything your baby needs and it’s FREE! The milk you produce is actually an important part of your baby’s development. Breastfeeding:

  • decreases the risk of ear, chest and stomach infections
  • prevents diarrhea
  • decreases the risk of digestive disorders and food sensitivities
  • decreases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • decreases the risk of childhood obesity
  • promotes proper jaw and tooth development
  • promotes healthy brain development

I recommend that baby be fed exclusively with breastfeeding until the age of 5-6 months, after which solid foods can start to be introduced. It is important that baby is still breastfed until at least 1 year, some mothers continue breastfeeding until their toddler is 2, 3 or 4 years! It’s great to see momma’s who are so passionate about it. The unfortunate thing is, the majority of mothers stop breast feeding in the first 3 months.

One question that frequently comes up is, how do I know my baby is getting enough milk? You know your baby is getting enough milk if they feed at least 8 times every 24 hours. That being said, don’t restrict the number of feeds to 8, and don’t restrict the length of the feeding. It is important not to swaddle your baby. Swaddling a baby makes them sleep longer, however when you are trying to establish a milk supply, this is not beneficial. Having baby’s hands free also allows you to watch for hand gestures that signal hunger. Another sign that your baby is getting enough milk is that your baby has enough wet diapers. Fluid in = fluid out. Refer to the chart below for the number of wet diapers a baby should have according to their age. If your baby is active and has a strong cry, and if your baby has a wet, pink mouth and bright eyes you know he/she is getting enough milk.

If baby is not getting enough milk, this can be solved by increasing the frequency of feedings and increasing the amount of skin-skin contact with minimal separation.

Image                                                                                        Source:

This topic is extensive and I could write about it forever. I hope I was able to answer some of your questions. If you have any further questions please feel free to email me at

Local Resources:

Peterborough La Leche League                                                                                                                                                                                                  Free dinner at 5:45,  group discussion at 6:30 (donation of $5/adult suggested)                                                                                                           4th Thursday of every month                                                                                                                                                                                                          201 Antrim Street (The Peterborough Family Resource Center)                                                                                                                            Dads/partners and older children are welcome to attend

Peterborough Regional Health Centre
1 Hospital Drive, Rm W6609, Peterborough

Kawartha Birthing & Lactation Consulting
705-740-6170 – call for appointment

Prenatal Breastfeeding Classes
Peterborough Family Resource Center                                                                                                                                                                                         201 Antrim Street, Peterborough                                                                                                                                                                                                  705-148-9144 – Call to register

Glow Maternity Studio and Apparel                                                                                                                                                                                             382 George Street (just south of Hunter), Peterborough                                                                                                                                                      705-775-4569

Partners in Pregnancy                                                                                                                                                                                                                   170 Simcoe Street (Turnbull Building) Suite 302, Peterborough                                                                                                                                      705-741-1191

And of course myself. While not a certified lactation consultant I have had lots of training in breastfeeding!