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3 Ways to Help a Baby Relieve Gas and Colic Naturally

3 Ways to Help a Baby Relieve Gas and Colic Naturally

Is there anything more disheartening than watching your baby fuss and squirm with gas and belly discomfort? It’s hard not to feel helpless when our babes are uncomfortable. Instead of standing by, wishing there was something you could do, try these burping, positioning, and massaging techniques to relieve gas and colic naturally, providing your little one with some welcome relief.

1. Burping

One of the most important things we learn in our first weeks of parenting is how to burp a baby. A few different situations can cause infants to swallow air —  if they cry before a feeding, experience a strong or fast milk flow during nursing, or fail to properly seal their mouths around the breast or bottle while feeding, they may end up with bubbles in their bellies. Burping can relieve that build-up of air and prevent later discomfort associated with gas.

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Try these four burping techniques and see which one, or which combination, works best for your child. (But before you try any of them, grab a burp cloth in case you coax out more than just a burp!)

  • On the shoulder – From a seated or standing position, place baby up high on your chest so that your shoulder presses lightly into the space just below your little one’s ribs. Pat and rub your baby’s back with moderate pressure to coax the burp out. A gentle bounce may help the bubble emerge.
  • Across the knees – From a seated position, place baby across your lap, lying face down (perpendicular to your legs). Support your baby’s chin and jaw with one hand while rubbing and patting with the other hand.
  • Folded forward – From a seated position, sit baby on your leg, facing to the side or away from your body. Support baby’s chin and jaw (not the throat) with one hand while patting and rubbing baby’s back with the other hand.
  • Over the hip – This position works great for moms who nurse their babies in a side-lying position. Place baby over hip, facing your back, so your hip puts gentle pressure onto your baby’s belly. Pat and rub your baby’s back.

2. Positioning

It your baby already seems to be experiencing gas-related discomfort, try these positions to help work out those bubbles! All three of techniques begin with your baby lying on his back, and can be repeated until baby passes gas, relaxes, or becomes tired of the motion.

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  • Knees-to-chest – Bend and lift baby’s legs up to the chest, then extend them again. Repeat the motion smoothly and rhythmically. You may lift both legs together, or pedal them slowly, like baby is riding a bicycle.
  • Foot-to-knee – Bring one of baby’s feet to up to the opposite knee and hold it there for a few seconds. Repeat on the opposite side.
  • Hip-lift – Gently grasp your baby’s calves or ankles with your hands. Bend the legs to 90 degrees, then lift them straight up, allowing your baby’s hips to rise a couple inches off the bed or blanket.

3. Massage

Infant massage is terrific not only for relieving stress and bonding with your baby, but also for providing relief from digestive issues. To perform the massage, you’ll need a towel (one that can get oily) and a bottle of oil to help your hands move smoothly across baby’s skin. Choose an edible oil like olive or coconut (organic is a plus) in case it travels from baby’s fingers or toes up to his mouth.

Before the massage, consider giving your baby a bath. This helps baby to relax, along with warming his skin and your own hands. Make sure the massage room is a comfortably warm temperature so baby can rest either naked or in only a diaper. Spread the towel on a soft surface, and lay your baby across the towel. Abdominal massage is easiest when the diaper is removed completely, but if you’d prefer to leave it on, pull it down low on baby’s hips so you have more room to work with on the belly region.

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Lean over your baby. Smile and make eye contact, explaining that you are about to perform a massage that will feel nice and help him relax. Warm a small spoonful of oil between your hands, then rub it in downward strokes from baby’s chest to legs.

Practice one of both of these digestion-aiding techniques:

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  • Water Wheel Stroke – Place your fingers just below baby’s belly button. Press down about an inch, and, with a slow stroke, scoop with a downward motion. Repeat with the opposite hand. Continue the strokes 8-10 times with a slow, firm, motion, alternating hands.
  • “I Love U” Stroke – This series of strokes makes an upside-down “I-L-U” stroke on baby’s belly. Lean over your baby, imagine that there is a box around his belly button. Each side of the box is marked with a clockwise-pointing arrow. The first stroke is a straight line (an “I”) up the left side of the box. The second stroke is a right angle (an upside-down “L”) that crosses above the belly button, then down the right side of the box. The third stroke is an arch (an upside-down “U”) that crosses up the left side of the box, across the top, and down the right side. Repeat this stroke 4-8 times, always making sure to move in a clockwise direction (the body’s natural direction of elimination).

At the completion of the massage, place your hands gently on baby’s abdomen, smile, and tell him that the massage is complete. (Feel free to shower him with love and kisses. After all, you did use edible oil!)

Still Having Trouble?

If nothing seems to help, talk to your doctor. Although most belly issues will be worked out within the first few months of baby’s life, in some cases, colic, gas, excessive spit-up, and/or discomfort could indicate another condition like gastroesophageal reflux.

Some nursing mothers find it helpful to pay attention to their food choices, seeking correlations between baby’s fussy times and foods that may not agree with an immature digestive system (such as dairy or tomatoes). Pediatricians and lactation consultants can help nursing mothers adjust their diets to make sure both mama and baby are happy.

Remember, as babies grow and become more experienced eaters who can roll, crawl, and walk, they will likely have less trouble with gas and digestive discomfort. That means more grins for mom, and less wondering, “Was that a smile, or a gas bubble?”

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Published on August 15, 2019

15 Tips for an Overwhelmed Working Mom to Feel Better

15 Tips for an Overwhelmed Working Mom to Feel Better

As an overwhelmed working mom, you get a lot of intelligent ideas from magazines, friends and the internet about how to manage work, children, and a household.

Unfortunately, you may still feel exhausted and insufficient at work and home despite the advice to organize, cook efficiently and pamper yourself .

How great would it be to wake up tomorrow knowing that you can begin to feel better without all of those overwhelmed feelings?

The sensation of feeling overwhelmed when you wear a lot of hats: mom, professional, household manager, partner, friend, etc. has its roots in reality. You are absolutely doing a lot of important jobs. But here’s the thing:

If feeling overwhelmed has become your knee-jerk or chronic reaction, this emotion is now literally a part of you that needs your attention so that you can move forward more confidently.

If helping yourself sounds too difficult, never fear. These tips come straight from therapy and neuroscience to hack into your nervous system. You will learn deeper ways to calm down and feel more confident about yourself, your life and your choices.

1. Breathe and Notice What Your Body Feels like Inside and Out

By using body-centered therapy techniques, you can better understand your overwhelmed feelings and offer accurate and practical help.

As you’ll learn, when you feel stressed out, your thinking brain is not your best resource. In fact, simply thinking about and bolstering your efforts to “get rid” of overwhelmed feelings might actually make them worse.

The first step to help when you feel overwhelmed is to simply slow down and breathe. This does not mean that you should suddenly take in huge gulps of air or breathe rapidly. That will send you into panic!

Breathe normally and naturally. Make your breath comfortably slow, extending the exhale. Count 5 to 10 breaths.

2. Get a Little Curious

Ask yourself: How do I know I’m overwhelmed? Close your eyes or soften your gaze if you are able. Imagine shifting your awareness from your outside world and sending it into your body along with your breath.

You might notice the signals right away. For example: My chest is tight, my heart is beating rapidly and there’s a sense of frustrated energy in my legs and arms. Or you might just hear some words like: I’m freaking out, failing or cannot do it!

If it’s possible, get a little curious about this sensation. Consider that while it may be a big feeling, you probably have other parts of you that feel differently.

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3. Offer Some Loving Care to Stressed-Out Parts of You

Richard Schwartz, developer of Internal Family Systems Therapy defines our personalities as made up of sub-parts that interact within us. This explains why a “part” of you can feel one way and yet, you have another part that feels differently.[1]

Gently acknowledging the part of you that feels overwhelmed and offering it some support and compassion (as you would a frightened child) can soothe your body and mind. “I’ve got you,” is a great mantra to breathe in when you’re overwhelmed.

4. Get Smart About Your Wise Nervous System

You may have heard of the “gut” brain or “body” brain. The science of Polyvagal Theory shows that the entire nervous system impacts how you think and feel – not just your thinking mind.

In fact, did you know that your wise nervous system generally picks up information from your environment before your brain can interpret it?[2]

When you feel overwhelmed, just one tiny cue of “danger” felt in your nervous system is often the unconscious trigger that tips you from busy but competent to feeling freaked out and exhausted.

This cue could be as simple as a song on the radio that feels overly-stimulating, a child’s bad mood (even if it has nothing to do with you) or your spouse forgetting an unimportant errand.

5. Remind Yourself That a Feeling Can Just Be a Feeling

When you’re feeling agitated, your physical body is naturally on high alert. Any information or stimulation you receive at these times will feel overwhelming.

This is not your fault, but it is helpful to understand that usually, when you feel like you’re not good enough, it is not objectively true. Your mind may just be creating a reason for the signals of danger coming from your body.

Allow your body to feel without making a negative judgement about yourself or your life. This technique will help you break the cycle of feeling overwhelmed, then creating negative thought about the feeling resulting in overwhelming yourself even more.

6. Learn Your Most Common Unconscious Responses to Stress

Why is this important? When you feel stressed, you probably respond unconsciously in the same ways throughout your life.

For some, too much stress will quickly create a numb, hopeless sensation. For others, the thought that life is just “too much” leads to bouts of panic or anger. Still, others might freeze completely, feeling highly anxious but not able to do much at all.

From a biological perspective, all of these experiences are pretty normal. When you recognize that your body’s reactions are not faulty or foolish, it’s much easier to reassure yourself and move forward confidently.

7. Exercise the Part of Your Nervous System That Provides Wellbeing and Social Connection

Did you know that you can actually tone your ventral vagal nerve, the nerve responsible for feelings of safety and social connection?[3]

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As often as you are able, allow yourself to linger on your favorite memories that invoke feelings of wellbeing, connection to loved ones, times of beauty in nature or your favorite memories of pets or places. Use all of your sense to really feel the experience in your body.

By doing this, you’re activating and toning your ventral vagus nerve as you might tone your muscles. Make a kind of “body bookmark” of these purely content sensations to which you can return when stressed.

This practice may feel silly, like an indulgence or even a fantasy. But it is supported by science and is important for you to create a strong and healthy response to stressors.

8. Give Baby Parts a Break

No part of you is trying to hurt you. But parts of us do feel extreme feelings and carry burdens from our past.

For example, if you are feeling overworked in the present, it may activate parts of your personality that felt similarly earlier in life. Deep anger, fear, resentment or sadness provide a signal to you that something from your past could benefit from your attention.

I know this may sound strange, but the next time you feel very overwhelmed, take a breath and notice if you feel like a child trying to do an adult’s job. If so, spend a moment calmly and compassionately reminding all of your inner child parts that you are indeed grown, capable and doing something appropriate.

9. Address Critical Messages You Give Yourself

What do you hear yourself saying to yourself when you feel overwhelmed? You may notice parts of you that sound critical or even cruel.

Statements like “I’ll never catch up,” “Why do I try,” or “I can’t do anything right,” are very common to hear when you’re under stress. Believe it or not, these inner messages are likely misguided protective parts of your personality.

These parts are normal and try to help you by “whipping you into shape” so you won’t fail, alerting you about scared feelings inside, or avoiding shock or disappointment by anticipating how others might criticize you.

If it’s possible, acknowledge these parts as protective. Maybe express a bit of gratitude. Notice how the critical voices inside you, even though they likely mean well, cause exhaustion and even more stress.

When you acknowledge these messages inside, letting them know they are part of you and you see their positive intention, the critical messages calm.

10. Take Small Moments to Express Gratitude

Everyone is talking about gratitude, I know. But there are good reasons for this trend.

More and more studies about gratitude show valid connections between gratitude and lowered stress and mental health. A 2018 multi-university research study concluded that gratitude not only has direct effects on quality of life, but also has indirect effects through perceived stress and mental health.[4]

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There are many reasons that gratitude impacts our nervous systems in positive ways, but the best way to discover this impact is to simply try it yourself.

Take a minute each day to write down one to three things for which you feel grateful. These can be large or small, important or trivial, but they must be true. Make this a habit and watch your stress-relief grow.

Or you can try some of these 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

11. Play with Time

In Gay Hendrick’s 2010 book The Big Leap, he talks about the concept of Einstein time vs. Newtonian time.

Newtonian time is the clock time we all watch all day. Einstein time is more about what you make with your moments, realizing that your perception can slow or speed time up.

For example, if you are spending time with someone you love and doing something you enjoy, time moves very quickly. Conversely, if you are doing a miserable job in uncomfortable weather, each second can feel like an eternity.

The next time you feel stressed for time, take a slow breath and remind yourself that you make time. Time belongs to you. Then, enjoy the pace and do what you need to do. With practice, this little tool will become valuable for overcoming the mental pressure of time.

12. Don’t Be Tricked by Perfection

When you’re in the thick of raising children and working, sometimes nervous energy presents as perfectionism. In an effort to feel in control, you may make arbitrary but unreasonable goals for yourself that feel like they are necessary or true.

Make a quick inventory of every job you are expecting of yourself and your family. Now question it all. What is really important and what is just preferable? What jobs can be left to someone else’s discretion, done well-enough by the children or dropped completely?

Keep any jobs that give you joy and do them joyfully. Let go of jobs that feel like standards or expectations with little or no payoff. Save them for retirement if you like.

13. Give Yourself Credit for Quality Time with Your Kids

Think of the time you spend relaxing with and enjoying your children as a $100,000 per hour job. Very small amounts are still incredibly valuable.

Showing your children that they are important is just as likely to happen in a ten-minute game of catch as in a whole day at the water park. A shared snack time, a book before bed, a half hour away from your phone to allow loving eye contact with your babes adds up to a lifetime of security and wonderful memories.

Imagine your child someday saying, “Mom worked hard, but she always had time to hug me, to hear about my day, and to offer me guidance. I always knew that I mattered to her.”

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14. Meditate for One Minute a Day

Yes, you may do more. But if you can’t afford any more than one minute, go ahead and sit comfortably, breathe and be in your body for this time. It’s such a simple but powerful exercise and the kids can do it too.

While you meditate, notice your loving heart. What does it need from you today — patience, compassion, creativity, caring, play? Remember to show up for yourself and you will show up for your work and your family as well.

15. Guard and Celebrate Sleep

From tinies to teens, there are many unavoidable reasons that kids interrupt your sleep.

Here’s the thing: Unexpected sleeplessness due to childhood growth or illness is normal and not easy to control. If you are feeling overwhelmed, though, sleep is crucial.

There are two things you can do to improve your mindset toward sleep so that you set yourself up for confidence rather than collapse.

One, prioritize and protect your sleep time. If you tend to wait until the kids go to sleep to complete work or finally relax, that’s okay. But don’t let these activities cut into your sleep time.

Given the choice between another load of laundry, Words With Friends, binge watching Game of Thrones or eight hours of sleep, consistently choose sleep.

Two, appreciate and express gratitude for any sleep you get. Sometimes, it’s impossible to get seven or eight hours of sleep. However, allow yourself to enjoy any time when you are laying in a comfy space allowing your body to rest and repair.

When you wake up saying “I didn’t get enough sleep last night,” you put your mind on alert that there is something lacking. This thinking alone can trigger feelings of overwhelm.

Set your nervous system up for success by appreciating any amount of rest.

Final Thoughts

Life as a working mom is not an easy one. Overwhelmed feelings are natural and normal but, they can take over and cause chronic stress and dissatisfaction.

Allow yourself just a few moments a day to reorganize your thoughts and feelings using the steps above. You’ll soon discover your calm and capable self.

Take a lesson from your growing children: small changes create big results now and in the future.

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Featured photo credit: Bruno Nascimento via unsplash.com

Reference

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