As a pediatrician and author, I have become accustomed to answering questions from parents in varying stages of curiosity and concern. New, experienced and expectant parents alike all want to make sure they are doing, saying and buying the right things. Nothing is more important to these people than ensuring the happiest, healthiest start for their little ones. I have found that what informs my responses to these parents (sometimes more than my professional experience) is my own experience as a father.
The recent release of What to Expect When You're Expecting, combined with a new TIME Healthland article on colic (a condition I'm particularly passionate about), got me thinking about all of the questions new parents have, and all they will encounter in the first few months of their baby's life. Combining my professional and personal experiences, I have come up with five things for new parents and parents-to-be to 'expect' on this crazy ride:
- Expect the best out of yourself and your own emerging parental intuition. New parents should learn to trust their own instincts. Don't follow someone else's parenting plan: Let your own unique style evolve.
- Expect a lot of well-meaning advice from "expert" friends and relatives who are eager to tell you they know best. Be sure to run all advice through your own intuition filter so you can decide what's best for your baby.
- Expect to successfully breastfeed. This nutritional rite of passage is nature's best food for new babies. It doesn't always get off to a smooth start, but with the right support and a positive, committed attitude, you can do it.
- Expect to be blessed with some new baby challenges, such as diaper rash, spit up, gas and colic symptoms -- along with all the other joys of having a new baby. Educate yourself on effective solutions for these common newborn problems.
- Expect to learn how to function with less sleep, less alone time and more stress. But look at this milestone as a positive one and embrace your new life and responsibility with a positive attitude. Your life will never be the same, and you wouldn't change it for the world.
While parenting is largely an intuitive endeavor, there will always be situations and conditions that call for expert assistance. One such condition is colic. As I mentioned above, I am particularly passionate about colic because it is not only painful and uncomfortable for baby, but can cause stress and feelings of inadequacy in parents. This stress is often exacerbated by the fact colic can be difficult to diagnose.
It is widely accepted that colic is a digestive problem in which something is irritating the intestinal system, but the exact cause of the intestinal problems can vary. Two common causes are cow's milk protein intolerance and a recently recognized condition called Transient Lactase Deficiency (TLD), which is an intolerance to milk sugar.
Diagnosing colic is often a process of elimination. To eliminate milk protein allergy as a potential cause of colic, simply remove all dairy from baby's diet (and from mom's diet if breastfeeding). If the colicky symptoms persist, a likely cause is TLD. To treat TLD, simply add an all-natural digestive enzyme to baby's breastmilk or formula. This will help break down the lactose in breastmilk or formula, eliminating the gas and bloating that results from temporary lactose intolerance.
Don't forget that your pediatrician is there to help guide you through this difficult time, and I am happy to share that I will be answering questions tweeted using the hashtag #TummyTuesday as part of my educational campaign surrounding colic.
For more information on the causes and treatments of colic, you can visit www.RelieveColic.com.
* Colief is proud to partner with Dr. Bob Sears as part of a national effort to educate parents about colic. While Dr. Sears is a paid spokesperson for Colief, the opinions expressed in his videos and articles are his own.