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    Almost to the day of baby Banks turning 5 weeks, he started waking up from 4 or 5am in mega discomfort, upset, tense, fist-clenching-back-arching-stiff and colicky. 


    It was always at the same time and always for a minimum of an hour till I massage, rub, tap, bounce, sing, feed, cuddle, skin-to-skin, rock, ride and sway all the techniques Google had to offer.


    Then throughout the day, I’d busy myself searching and eliminating food groups to see what makes a difference the following night.


    Four weeks later (the boy is now 9 weeks), we seem to have the worst of this painful stage behind us, but only if I stick to the below protocol. The day I sneak in a little ‘no no’ food will follow by the night we both pay for it. 


    Here’s everything I learned over this time…


    Lake and Banks Maher




    1. It’s not uncommon for babies to be uncomfortable in the early hours of the morning. Their digestive system does not always develop at the same rate as their appetite and gets “overloaded”. -Gina Ford
    2. The reason for fussing and fretting is that the stools of a very young baby are so soft, they do not put enough pressure on the anus, making them more difficult to eliminate. It is something he will grow out of as his systems mature. Once he’s taking solid foods, things may well improve. -Dr Spock
    3. Gripe is caused by muscle spasms and excess acid created when air bubbles form in baby's tummy. When the air bubbles get trapped in baby's stomach, the stomach thinks it is full of food, so acids are produced which would normally break down the food particles. These acids are not needed and can cause irritation. At the same time, because the stomach is full of air bubbles its muscles are unable to relax causing cramps and spasms. -Woodward’s
    4. No one completely understands colic. What we do know is that the pain is in the gut and that the whole baby is upset as a result. (The term ‘colic’ comes from the Greek ‘kolikos’, meaning ‘suffering in the colon’). - Dr Bill via AskDrSears
    5. Colic will eventually run its course and most infants grow out of it between six and 12 weeks of age. Meanwhile everything you eat is transmitted through breastmilk and “maternal intake of food allergens is an important factor in the [development] of infantile colic among breastfed infants”. - Study in Nov 2005 issue of Pediatrics
    6. The “Rule of Threes” is used to define colic: A colicky baby has incessant, inconsolable crying for at least 3 hours per day on at least 3 days per week, for more than 3 weeks. Crying is usually the worst in the evening hours. A baby with colic vs just gas doesn't always mean the same thing, however what works for colicky babies may also help babies with milder types of GI discomfort. -Alice Callahan, PhD
    7. It takes 12-16 hours after you have eaten something to cause a bout of windy crying in a baby if they are being affected by it. 
    8. Young babies only cry for 5 reasons: hungry, full of wind, overtired, nappy needs changing, too cold/hot. If you have covered all of the above, then your baby may have a different problem, maybe a pain brought on by food intolerance. See a doctor then. - Tizzie Hall


    foods to eliminate for breastfeeding mother if colic or wind




    Keep a food diary of what you eat and drink in a day and take note if the nightly episodes are worse after some days. I personally don’t usually consume everything on the below list, but I now know for a fact that when I avoid everything entirely, that’s the night he doesn’t suffer.

    1. Dairy. Usually the worst offender so eliminate this immediately for at least 6 days and see what happens.
    2. Other allergy causing foods including eggs, gluten (even oats!), soy and peanuts.
    3. Mushrooms.
    4. Corn and beans. Read backs of labels- corn and corn syrup are in SO many foods!
    5. Cruciferous veggies including brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale (nooooo!) and cabbage (unless fermented as in raw sauerkraut)
    6. Other “gassy” veggies including onion, garlic, peppers and tomatoes.
    7. Citrus fruits and drinks. Stay away from OJ!
    8. Other super ‘juicy and tangy’ fruits including pineapple, strawberries and green kiwi fruits.
    9. Caffeine including black tea, coffee and chocolate. I could never give up chocolate (sorry Banks!), but I noticed that the darker it is (75%+), the worse it is for him.
    10. Alcohol. Some studies say that beer won’t cause problems but ALL studies say that any alcohol consumption during breastfeeding must be limited to one glass per day. And if you must drink, begin sipping during a feed and sip slowly. It takes 2 hours for the drink to reach your milk and then starts to ‘wear out’ quickly after, so you should be ok by next feed.


    Tanya's raw vegan london deli


    Focus on the abundance of foods you CAN eat and both you and your baby will feel so much more relaxed. It’s also important to note that if your baby is NOT showing any signs of tummy troubles, you’re better off eating all the food groups in moderation. The reason for this is that maternal diet restriction during lactation may increase baby’s chances of developing allergies later in life. -American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

    1. Probiotics. I'm usually pretty good with my intake of 'friendly bacteria', but it was when I switched to the kind specifically targeted at infants, children, pregnant women and nursing mothers, when everything changed! I decided to double the dose and literally within 24 hours, Banks was so much more relaxed and my own bowel movements were so much more satisfying :)))
    2. Avocados.
    3. Root vegetables especially sweet potatoes, carrots and beetroot.
    4. Fermented veggies including sauerkraut and gherkins.
    5. Fruits, but limit those to bananas, pears, papaya, mango and peaches. As a rule of thumb- I like to think of them as ‘creamy’ fruits, meaning that they can be blended into a creamy puree in a blender, but unlike apples they won't be able to go through a juicer to extract liquid.
    6. Grains and seeds including rice (stick to wild or brown), buckwheat, millet, amaranth and quinoa. Apart from rice, all the rest are actually seeds, which makes them a safe and nutritious base to any meal. Think tabouli, stuffed veggies, porridge, soups, curry and crock pot meals.
    7. Nuts and seeds. All varieties in moderation are great here unless you suspect an allergy. (Peanut is not a nut and most definitely on the list to avoid!)
    8. Leafy greens including spinach, rocket, lamb’s lettuce, mustard greens, bok choy and snow pea shoots (but kale fits the cruciferous veg category to avoid for now). Try to eat a variation.
    9. Sea veggies and kelp noodles.
    10. Sauces including cashew cream, homemade vegan pesto, nut and seed butters, broths or boullions (always read labels to avoid allergens), hummus, coconut cream/milk, Thai curry, Indian Curry, satay sesame dressing, guacamole, etc.


    how to soothe crying colic colicky baby with wind




    Your baby will be way too upset and too tense from pain, so you’ve gotta be patient and strong here. Remain calm, our little humans feel everything and the last thing they need is the additional nerves from their dearest person. No single remedy will likely work on its own (and what worked yesterday may not work today), so try out as many of the below tips as possible, in any order, as many times as needed.

    1. Place a warm water bottle on his belly. Make sure it’s not hot.
    2. Stroke his belly in a clockwise direction. It will be tight, so be extra gentle.
    3. Stroke his back in a clockwise direction. Lay your baby over your lap or seat him bent forward with one of your hands supporting him around the belly, while rubbing.
    4. Pedal his legs. Lay him on his back and if he lets you, pedal his legs by bending them at the knees and gently pressing them into his belly to help release gas.
    5. Try skin-to-skin. Put him on your chest with his ear against your heartbeat and cuddle him until he settles. This reminds him of the sounds and feel of the womb, which may relax him enough for the wind to release more freely.
    6. Swaddle him. This never worked for mine, as he doesn’t like to feel restricted, but I hear it’s comforting to many babies, so definitely try it.
    7. Play ‘white noise’. Ask Siri to ‘Play white noise for babies’, download an app or turn on the actual hair dryer or vacuum cleaner. This trick worked wonders on both of mine.
    8. Back to the breast. Breastmilk contains some natural elements which act as a pain relief for baby and the sucking is soothing too.
    9. Use a dummy. Don’t know what we would’ve done without! Definitely helps to soothe when they refuse to go back on the breast.
    10. Create soothing vibrations. Take him out in the car or his pram over cobble stone roads or place his car seat over a clothes dryer (make sure he and the car seat are secure, so neither can fall).
    11. Walk your baby kangaroo-style. This has always worked for us but requires some patient commitment, so pop him in an ergonomic baby carrier and keep going. 
    12. Rock, roll, bounce, sway or rhythmically and gently move your baby in your arms or a bouncer if you get tired.
    13. Open windows for fresh air or take the baby outside for a walk - either in a sling or a wedged up pram.
    14. Try a winding valve. Seems weird but makes a lot of sense if it’s really the gas being trapped in their bellies that’s causing so much agony. The relief will be immediate.
    15. Try gripe water. It contains Dill Oil, which warms and relaxes the tummy, breaking down trapped air bubbles. Also Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate, which neutralises acid in the baby's tummy. The results are usually a resounding burp.
    16. Failing that, try Infacol. It contains Simeticone, which is an anti-foaming agent that works locally within the gut and not absorbed into bloodstream. It breaks down the smaller bubbles in the gut, creating larger ones that are easier for baby to pass.
    17. Failing that, try Colief. It contains the naturally occuring enzyme, lactase, which helps to break down lactose in milk, that some babies have trouble digesting.



    prevent wind and colic



    Since no-one actually knows what colic is, the root cause of it is even harder to establish. However, all of the below methods have worked for both of my children, minimising the fussiness at the very least.

    1. Eliminate the foods from your diet which I list above under heading 'Foods to avoid for breastfeeding mums'.
    2. Keep a food and crying diary. Use my guide above to note the worst offenders when it comes to what foods a breastfeeding mama can eat. Observe the bouts of crying intensity within 24 hours of consuming something and consider eliminating it from your diet for a minimum of 6 days, then (only if you must) introduce it back slowly and again observe whether the crying worsens. If your baby is formula-fed, ask the paediatrician about switching to a soy-based (I hope not!), goat milk, pre-digested, or other hypoallergenic formula.
    3. Keep your baby semi upright. Use wedges (here’s what I bought on Amazon for his hammock bed and pram) so he’s slightly elevated when lying down. If your baby’s already in a cot, place a pile of books under each leg at his head end to elevate the cot. Being in a slightly sloping position as opposed to lying flat, can help a baby eliminate wind and bowel movements slightly easier.
    4. If breastfeeding, make sure baby is getting lots of “hindmilk” (the creamy harder to extract ending) at each feeding and not just “foremilk” (the watery thirst clinching start). This can happen by making sure one breast is finished before offering the other or only offering one at a feeding and emptying it completely.
    5. Baby massage. Daily! There are 5 week courses in the UK which are free, so make sure you go, otherwise YouTube videos or follow the below screen shot with instructions.
    6. Burb your baby after every feed, between feeds and even throughout. Bottle fed babies may take in more air when eating, but in cases like mine, where my milk let-down is too fast, the baby will gulp so quickly, he will take in too much air.
    7. Probiotics Probiotics Probiotics. These ‘friendly bacteria’ are not just for breastfeeding mothers, as they help restore healthy gut flora in even the newly born babies. It’s hard to imagine that a breastfed child may need his gut flora ‘restored’ and he probably doesn't but my theory is that consuming probiotics (smother over nipples or add to bottle) will leave an alkaline ash in the gut (in other words create a calm environment without acids) and help avoid burning sensation when eliminating acidic poo. 



     baby massage colic technique instructions



    This time is so fricken hard. No parent wants to hear their baby crying inconsolably, but a baby screaming in pure agony can be too much to handle. 

    1. Take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone going through this. Other parents all over the world are trying to comfort their crying child at exactly the same time right now too.
    2. Always remember- this stage WILL pass.
    3. Try and remain calm. Babies are super intuitive and can feel your stress, which will only add to theirs.
    4. What ever you do, do not blame yourself. The crying is not a reflection of your parenting or a test of your character. You are doing the best you can and you’re doing a wonderful job.
    5. If the crying gets too much and you feel your fuse burning out, put the baby down in a safe place, take a moment for yourself taking deep long breaths in and long sighs out.
    6. Try to sleep when the baby sleeps, so you are in your right mind and have the energy to deal with the fussiest times of day.
    7. Cook in advance and freeze a bunch of meals so that you’re not distracted during the difficult evening hours.
    8. Ask for help. A spouse, a friend, your health visitor or if in the UK, call a helpline from this list. This is not the time to be shy, a parent needs relief from colic as much as the baby.
    9. Know that you are the best person to comfort your baby. If you can’t do it, nobody can.


    Baby Boy Banks Maher


    Do you have a tip of your own or heard of a method that worked? Please share in the comments below, I'd love love love to hear it and I'm sure that parents going through this painful time would too!

    My breastfeeding nightmare

    My breastfeeding nightmare

    I had no idea what was coming my way. 


    Whilst every bone in my body has felt ready for motherhood for as long as I can remember, nothing was going to prepare me for the breastfeeding hell.


    No book or instructions handout, no NCT class, no hospital workshop, no breastfeeding expert, no video, no hypnobirthing app, nothing and no one was going to prevent the two years of trauma that were to follow my child’s birth.


    For two full years, whenever anyone would ask me when we’re planning to make another adorable little human, I would literally cease up in discomfort and go into panic mode, my stomach burning with pain and my throat drying up. 


    For two full years, I thought it was the trauma of birth that did this to me. 


    [Without going into too much detail- every contraction made me re-live the car accident from 16 years earlier. It was as if my spinal fusion was being smashed from the inside and I felt my back breaking over and over for eight longest hours of my life.]


    It wasn’t until Lake turned two and I felt that she needed a sibling, that I was ready to address the wound and deal with the pain. I knew I wouldn’t want to bring another child into the world with so much fear occupying my cells. So I had my mum put together a cell memory clearing meditation for me to follow and I enrolled in The Journey course to help me through this.


    What I uncovered through this intense healing process was that it wasn’t the birth at all which I was most afraid of, it was the first three months that followed birth.


    And so in order to deal with the trauma and to completely let go, I went on to re-live the nightmare. My breastfeeding hell.


    I remembered the piercing screams of a hungry baby that simply wasn’t getting enough milk.


    I remembered the dozen or so midwives that came through our doors to ‘assist with the issue’ over time. 


    I remembered each one of them attempting to get the crying child to latch by forcing her over my breasts while I bit my fist in agony and cried with her.


    breastfeeding awareness week


    I remembered telling Elliot not to allow any visitors because it was too painful to put a top over the raw and bleeding scabs of my nipples.


    I remembered the heartache of not being able to comfort and to hold my baby too close for that very same reason. 


    I remembered Lake sucking only to peel the scabs off till blood ran down her cheeks.


    I remembered the midwives panic because my baby wasn’t only not regaining her birth weight at 10 days old, she continued to lose weight. She slept for 5 hours at a time because she had no energy and cried when she was awake because she was so hungry.


    Still they insisted that I persevere with breastfeeding and not give in to formula no matter what. 


    I remembered sobbing in the shower from physical pain of my exploding breasts, the scabs, the blood, the blocked milk ducts; and the emotional pain of feeling like a complete failure in my first task as a mother that provides for her newborn in the most basic way.


    I remembered how surreal and dehumanising it felt to literally be milked not only by strangers that came through our doors but even my own husband.


    I remembered never being able to sleep, not because I was over-exhausted, but because I needed every minute to mentally prepare myself for the immense agony of feeding a child as soon as she was ready to wake up.


    I remembered taking this innocent child into my arms and seeing only a mouse trap that was about to jam itself over my raw skin and send me into more silent screams.


    I remembered wanting to slice off my breasts because I thought anything will be less painful than them blowing up till I saw skin tearing with my own eyes.


    I remembered Elliot sprinting to Superdrug in freezing January to buy out shelves of any product relating to breastfeeding or soothing a baby.


    I remembered how much I wept from the depth of my core when I tried using a hand pump to relieve me of the milk build up, only to feel the scabs of my nipples crack open and see nothing but blood drip into the bottle.



    I remembered how exhausted I was to care when someone finally picked up on the fact that Lake was tongue tied to latch properly and had a severe case of asymmetry. (Her neck was jammed in one position and her head was always turned to the right, which meant that feeding equally on both breasts was not only difficult and painful for her, it was pretty much impossible, till we called in a cranial osteopath to release the muscles. This apparently happened as she was developing inside me- she was growing into a long baby inside a short mother so there wasn’t much room to move and she kinda found a comfy position to keep growing with her head turned to one side).


    Meanwhile a fellow NCT mum offered to lend me her electric pump and I refused because of what happened with the hand pump. She insisted that I give it a try and had it brought to my house. I stared at it with deep fear for at least a week.


    By the time we had Lake’s tongue tie fixed, by the time the osteopath’s magic work began to take effect and by the time I discovered how a miracle electric pump was going to give my nipples a break for a chance to heal.... my milk pretty much dried up.


    The next round of painful experience began.

    My baby was literally screaming from starvation and I felt like I failed her yet again by not having enough milk and by giving in to formula.


    For the first time in weeks, I could see the child was satisfied. Thank you Lord for baby goats!



    The midwives still went on about how important it is that I don’t give up and continue to breastfeed. 


    So I persisted and committed to trying any tip going that might help to increase breast milk production.


    Again, there was no chance for me to sleep. I was a mum on a mission...


    It felt like I had warm compresses on my breasts around the clock. If I wasn’t nursing Lake, I was expressing. If I wasn’t expressing, I was in a hot shower massaging my breasts to stimulate the milk production.


    I upped my calorie intake and started loading on complex carbs like brown rice, beans and whole grain pasta. I was steeping fenugreek, raspberry leaf, stinging nettle and fennel seeds all the time to take as a tea. I started drinking dairy for the first time in years, because I heard that a glass of warm milk before nursing will increase my own milk. It did work for a short time and when it didn’t, I started to drink formula myself. (That was one of the low points of the whole mission). 


    The next round of painful experience began. My baby got the taste for formula milk and was no longer interested in mine. 


    It was also a big effort for her to breastfeed, while the bottled milk just flowed. 


    It was difficult enough witnessing just how much she no longer wanted my milk, but when a stranger dining at my cafe made a remark like ‘I do hope that’s breastmilk in that bottle’, it left me in tears for weeks.


    I knew how it looked to an outsider: A raw food expert with her own organic cafe, promoting natural living, that's free from animal foods - wasn’t even breastfeeding her own newborn. Instead she was feeding her dairy milk formula! 


    I hated feeling like I had to explain myself to friends before I pulled out bottle feed, but the last thing I thought I’d be doing is avoiding my own beloved haven of a restaurant at the risk of the judging eyes.



    It’s Breastfeeding Awareness Week and every year starting August 1st, I see hundreds of posts on the importance of breastmilk, as well promotion to stop the shaming of mothers nursing in public.


    Although I am 100 percent in full support of this incredibly important initiative, I felt like I needed to write this post for a number of reasons-


    1. I needed to do this for my own healing to be complete. I have a brand new life growing inside of me now and I am determined to bring this child into the world without fear. (Surprise!) 
    2. I now know what to look for (ie. tongue tie, asymmetry, electric pump) the second time around. Hopefully someone else reading this will benefit from knowing these signs and won't need to suffer for as long as I did.
    3. If you’re also struggling with so much pressure to breastfeed, while crying from unbearable agony, just know that all this pain and fear is being passed on to your child via the hormones in your milk. Yes, the goodness in your milk may outweigh the fear hormones and Yes, we don’t know what the animal that was being milked went through and what fear hormones it might be passing on via formula, but I do know this... As soon as I relaxed and the pressure (mainly in my own head) to breastfeed went away, the love and the bond between me and my child blossomed. Love is the ultimate fuel. Babies need our love just as much as they need food to survive (if not more).
    4. Please whatever you do, DO NOT judge a mother feeding her child in any which way she possibly can. You have no idea how many tears she cried till the point that she could comfortably breastfeed in public. You have zero clue as to how often she was losing the will to live until she could soothe her baby with a bottle. Believe me when I say ‘she is doing her very very best’.


    So much love going out to all the new mamas, the newborns and the judging eyes. We are, after all, the ones that need it the most.