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Sunday, 12 January 2014 06:31

More Natural Remedies for a Gassy Baby

In “Natural Remedies for a Gassy Baby,” it was discovered that probiotics, flat back squats, gripe water, and simethicone, along with easing into nursing when mom has a huge letdown, are all ways to combat gassiness in a baby. The remedies found in both articles may also assist with a baby suffering from constipation.

 

Whether those methods were attempted or not, there are yet more solutions to help relieve unwanted pressure and discomfort, such as a warm bath, massage, reflexology, and diet.

 

When a baby is consumed by gas, pain and discomfort typically follow, along with the inability to easily calm down. Babies do not understand what it is that is wrong and why there is pain, and can get worked up, which does not make matters any better for anyone in the house. Baby may then scream and cry, which could lead to additional gas. Relaxing the body is one way to help expel gas, and aside from cuddling, rocking, and nursing, a warm bath is great for helping baby to do just that. A warm bath can help with constipation as well, in the same regard.

 

Adding a bit of massage with the warm bath, flat back squats, or by itself is another way to help baby relax, and possibly stimulate the digestive system. Simply apply light pressure with your hand(s) starting at the baby’s navel. Using circular motions, work your way out from the navel to baby’s sides. Alternately, mom could start at the top of baby’s rib cage, move slowly (with light pressure) down to just below the navel, and swoop out to the sides - all in one motion. Do either of these, or try your own technique, for at least thirty seconds. Continue if baby is still upset or if gas has not been expelled. Giving a belly massage while baby is in a warm bath is much more effective, and even more relaxing for the tiny tummy.

 

Taking it even further, mom could try reflexology for relaxation and pain relief. There are certain pressure points on baby’s foot that, when applied with a bit of force, trigger areas of the body to react. This is best done when holding, rocking, nursing, bathing, or otherwise interacting with baby. If baby pulls a foot away, stop and try another method of relieving tension and gas, or try again in a few minutes. The middle of the bottom of the foot is the main area to touch to trigger relief and flow to the stomach. Gently apply pressure, or stroke the foot from right below the ball to the heel, or vice versa. Paying particular attention to certain area of the foot will help with a multitude of ailments, such as colic, eczema, and pain from teething.

 

A baby’s diet is just as important for development as it is for growth. If intake of nutrients is imbalanced, baby’s body will be as well. New and different foods can cause digestive issues as baby’s gut and intestines are not fully developed at birth. Over time, baby will be able to tolerate and properly digest more foods. Ensuring that baby is getting adequate amounts of fiber is just as important for helping to prevent diaper rash as it is in aiding digestion. Some fiber rich foods are avocados, beans, grains, brown rice, pears, artichokes, peas, raspberries, broccoli, and apples. If baby is old enough to eat solids, understand that it takes time for the body to learn how to digest, but changing what baby is eating can help. Giving the juice from fiber rich foods (juicing at home; not buying juice at the store as it typically contains unwanted ingredients and added sugars) can aid digestion, eliminating gas and constipation.

If mom is breastfeeding, an elimination diet may be in order if other natural remedies do not help. Try removing an irritant from the diet one at a time, for at least a few days. Foods like dairy, gluten, and caffeine are particularly harsh on baby’s digestive system, and a great place to start. It can take a few weeks for dairy to completely leave the body, and so, eliminating dairy for a length of time is the best way to determine it the culprit. After some time, try introducing the foods again (one at a time). If baby reacts, then the answer is clear. The same elimination diet can be used on an older baby/child already eating solids.

All in all, there are numerous natural remedies for relieving gas in babies. If baby is so gassy or constipated that nothing seems to help, consulting a healthcare provider may be the logical next step.

Published in Newborn Care
Monday, 25 November 2013 10:53

Pediatric Massage

We all know how good a massage can feel. It can help decrease muscle tension after a long day at work, minimize headache pain, and help facilitate the healing of soft tissue injuries. So, if it feels good and can help us heal, what about our little ones?  

We can incur tissue trauma at any stage of life, in the womb, during the birthing process, and of course, all the bumps and bruises we get as we learn to crawl, walk, and run. All of this trauma, as small as it may seem, can have physical (as well as mental) effects on the body. These effects can manifest themselves later on in life, creating postural change, undue stress on ligaments, tendons and nerves, and muscle tension, as well as some mental health disorders. Massage Therapy can be very beneficial throughout the pediatric years to help with tissue healing, postural concerns (scoliosis, leg length discrepancies, etc.), latching difficulties, digestive issues, restlessness and insomnia, as well as many other issues.

How does pediatric massage differ from regular massage?  Depending on the symptoms that your child may present with, many of the same techniques can be applied to the infant that would be applied to an adult but with a much gentler touch and treatment intention. Treatments can involve simple Swedish (relaxation) massage techniques, or be more specific. CranioSacral techniques can help a newborn latch onto the mother’s breast or decrease intracranial pressure that may be high due to some birthing processes such as C-section delivery. Visceral (organ) mobilization techniques may be used to help with digestion. These techniques should be performed by an experienced CranioSacral Therapist or Visceral Therapist that has had specific education towards pediatrics.

How do I know if my baby needs Massage? Obviously a newborn cannot express through voice that he/she has an upset tummy or that they are experiencing tension throughout their body. But noticing movement patterns that seem unbalanced from side-to-side, such as one arm reaching higher than another, or excessive arching of the back when being picked up, can be signs of tissue tightness within the body. Latching problems can be another sign that there may be some problem with the palate and/or the muscles that help with latching (possibly due to a difficult/long birthing process, C-section, or breech position). An overly fussy baby can be telling us that something may be uncomfortable also. Our little ones communicate in many different ways without speech. As long as you are attentive and trust your parental intuition, you will pick up on these little communication cues. Even if you think everything is okay, your baby can always benefit from massage.                

When can massage be done on an infant? Massage therapy can be very effective and applied at any time from the moment of birth onwards. Pre-natal massage experienced by the mother can create a more comfortable pregnancy as issues with postural change, mood, and overall health can be addressed. This has a direct impact on the birthing process as a relaxed mother with very little discomfort going into child birth is more likely to succeed at providing a positive birthing experience for her and her baby.

It is also important to note that massage therapy is a great bonding tool for parents and their newborn. Touch builds trust for the newborn towards his/her parents, it helps to comfort, and is a great tool to be used for bedtime routines. Infant massage classes can teach parents the basics of applying massage to their infants and is something I highly recommend.

Pediatric massage can help with a variety of issues and can be done at any time. It is an amazing tool to help parents bond with their child and can be very beneficial with the developmental process of the baby. There are a variety of techniques that can be applied by the parent or massage therapist, and some that need advanced education to help our little ones developmental process flourish.

 

Jason Dvorak, RMT, NSCA-CPT

 

 

Published in Newborn Health

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