“There is no better evidence of the good action of a remedy, than mental improvement”
So here you are, a beginner mom and you are starting to realise that it is all about a series of tubes leading from the mouth to the anus. You are almost sure that your little baby’s whole existence is caught up in that one tube… And you are so right!
One of the first things you noticed after you took your precious baby in your arms was the “root reflex” It is seen in a newborn baby when the corner of the mouth is stroked and the baby turns its head in the direction of the stroking. This helps the baby find the bottle or the nipple to begin feed. Then when the roof of the mouth is touched, the baby will suck.
During my years of working in a homoeopathic practice, I have learned that most of the troubles you are going to have to deal with originate in the digestive system. For this reason I find it to be very important to understand your baby’s gut early in her life. Let us start at the beginning of life.
DURING THE GESTATION PERIOD
At 8 weeks’ gestation, that most important tube is starting to form along with the stomach and by week 10 the stomach starts to produce digestive juices and enzymes. Early in the second trimester, around week 13, the digestive system’s structures are fully formed and in the right places. Baby begins to suck and swallow amniotic fluid and the muscles and organs that make up the digestive system start to contract. Baby also pees every 40 minutes. In the final weeks of pregnancy, the digestive system gets ready for its own first delivery: meconium starts to build up in the intestine. This is baby’s first bowel movement. Instead of food, it’s made up of the stuff your baby collected in the intestines while in utero (like old blood cells and skin cells), which is why it looks so drastically different from the baby poop yet to come.
FIRST WEEKS AFTER BIRTH
At birth your newborn's digestive system is still very immature. As a result, he may lose up to 10 percent of his body weight in the first days of his life, as he adjusts to using his digestive system. Because a newborn's stomach is small, your infant needs frequent feedings. Breast milk is high in fat because that is the most efficient way for your baby to meet his caloric needs. Your baby’s tummy is about the size of a small marble at birth and until he is about 4 months old, your baby’s tummy can hold only small amounts of milk at a time. Too much milk during feedings can cause your baby to spit up or be fussy.
THE OPEN GUT
The “open gut” hypothesis has not been supported by good evidence, but it may be a good idea to keep that possibility in the back of your mind. It is said that a baby’s gut is permeable until the age 4 – 6 months to allow breastmilk particles to move through the gut walls. An immune response is caused in order to grant passive immunity to the young baby. It is believed that if a baby eats solid foods too early in life, this very same process may cause an overreaction of the body’s immune response, leading to allergies and auto immune conditions.
NORMAL GUT ISSUES in babies (AND WHEN IS IT ABNORMAL)
reflux in babies
Spitting up can happen when your baby:
What to do:
When to worry:
diarrhea in babies
The rotavirus is normally responsible for the most cases of diarrhea in small children. It is normally found in children between ages six months and two years. Other common causes for diarrhea in small children are milk allergy, lactose intolerance and antibiotics.
What to do:
When to worry:
Suspect a milk allergy or lactose intolerance when a diarrhea lasts for more than two weeks without a fever or any signs of infection.. Please note, there is a huge difference between the two and you will have to get professional help and a diet adjustment in both cases
Dehidration is often more fatal than the illness itself. When you see any signs of dehydration as described above, give more fluid
constipation in babies
Constipation is not measured by the frequency of the stool, but rather by the look of it. The stool will be small, dry and hard and you will notice that your baby is struggling to pass the stool.
It is more common in formula fed babies and may also occur when solids are introduced.
Most medications given for pain and fever also cause constipation.
What to do:
When to worry:
the homoeopathic approach to normal gut issues
You will notice that your homoeopathic practitioner will always look at the full picture and not only at the specific complaint.
If you read through the different homoeopathic remedies, you will see that the same remedy that is prescribed for constipation can also be given for diarrhea.
Nux vomica, for instance, is a good example. It is prescribed for all kinds of digestive disorders depending on the specific type of person who needs the treatment. Silica is another one that can be given in both instances of diarrhea and constipation. When the practitioner starts asking you questions about your baby’s sleep pattern and all over happiness, her reaction to strangers and her emotional wellbeing, then it is because your doctor is trying to match your baby with just that correct remedy.
In your health shop or pharmacy you will find several complex Homoeopathic remedies. If you are trying to solve a mild condition, it is quite fine to buy them.
For infants with diarrhea, they should contain some of the following simplexes:
Calcarea carbinicum: Chronic diarrhea and sour, undigested stools. For infants who are teething and for overweight children.
Chamomilla : For colicky or teething infants. For children who scream or hit and are extremely angry and for irritable and hypersensitive adults. The person’s face will be red and flushed. The diarrhea is hot, green and watery, smells like rotten eggs and is accompanied by abdominal pain and gas.
Mercurius solubilus: Burning watery stools and sometimes slimy blood-stained stools. Infants may have green stools. Offensive odor. Children will experience pain before, during, or after a stool and have frequent or constant urging and a never-get-done feeling. Anus is raw from burning stools. Symptoms are worse in the evening and at night.
Podophylum: Watery, urgent, profuse and explosive diarrhea accompanied by much gas. When diarrhea accompanies teething in children.
Silicea: For breast feeding infants who get diarrhea from mother's milk.
Homoeopathic remedies for infants with constipation should contain some of the following simplexes:
Calc-carbonica: When your baby seems to be not bothered at all in any way by being constipated and the bowel just seems inactive. The constipation may accompany teething as well or not. They may have trouble digesting milk or be sensitive to lactose or milk protein.
Lycopodium: This is where the baby will be irritable with the constipation. Very gassy. Lots of burping and/or farting alongside the complaint. They will also be clingy and fussy in general from the discomfort and their abdomen will be distended or hard as a rock.
Nux-vomica : For an impatient, determined baby. Can be irritable but is independent rather than clingy. This baby will be trying to will strain and push but nothing will come out.
Opium: For stubborn constipation in infants, due to inaction of the intestines. When passed they are little, hard, dry, black balls. It may get worse from gas building up in the upper part of the intestines.
Silica : When stools are hard, small and dark and are produced with much strain and effort. . Use if the constipation starts up coinciding with difficult and slow teething. Use if your baby's appetite is poor and they are not gaining weight satisfactorily.
Please remember that your new born baby’s gut is still developing and many of the gut issues will pass by the time everything is nicely in place, anything between four and six months of age. Now that you know how homoeopathy can assist in ordinary gut issues, we can focus on baby colic in our next talk.
Dr. Marike de Klerk