The causes of colic are not completely known, but there is one thing we know for sure: a baby who is not completely satisfied with what she has eaten is going to be fussy. If baby never quite gets satisfied, she is going to be fussy for long periods of time.
When you breastfeed, you produce two distinct types of milk which your baby feeds on. When baby first latches on, she is going to get a healthy dose of what’s called foremilk. Foremilk provides your baby with carbohydrates and lactose. It’s thin compared to the milk that comes later in the feeding.
As your baby continues to feed, she starts to drink a thicker sort of breast milk known as hindmilk. Hindmilk is not only thicker, but it is loaded with a higher fat content. While this might not sound appealing to us as adults, it’s important for baby because the hindmilk is where she gets the majority of her energy. In short, it satisfies her tummy for longer periods of time.
The best way to make sure that your baby gets plenty of hindmilk is to let her feed from the same breast until it is empty before switching. You will also want to make sure that your baby is latching on properly. Often, if babies aren’t latched on quite like they should be, they are unable to get to the denser hindmilk and so aren’t able to satisfy their tummies like they should.
If you’re not sure if your baby is latching on correctly, consult a lactation coach or your medical professional. These days, there are many resources to help you with breast feeding your baby, and you should not hesitate to use whatever resources are at your disposal.
When babies get too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk, it causes problems both because it puts excess lactose into their diet. This is sometimes misinterpreted as a lactose intolerance (though some babies are genuinely lactose intolerant, so don’t rule that out completely). It also causes problems because babies become hungry more often, leading to them being fussy more often.
Whatever you do, don’t get frustrated and give up breastfeeding. Bottle fed babies get colic, too. Some studies seem to indicate that they get it more frequently. It is well known that breast milk is the best thing to feed your baby and contains nutrients and antibodies which she can’t receive anywhere else.