Category Archives: Babies’ Ailments

Rise in Infant Constipation – A Homeopathic Approach

Over the years, I am seeing more mothers seeking homeopathic treatment for their babies’ constipation problems. It seems that our young ones, as little as six-months-old, are becoming less efficient at clearing their bowels – a process which should be rather smooth for them at such a young age considering that their diet consists of mainly purees and milk.

It is common for babies to have stools of a firmer consistency once they start solids, bottled baby foods and formula milk. For some babies, it could be part of their normal stool cycle to void their bowels every two to three days. However, it becomes a problem when emptying the bowels become painful and starts affecting their appetite and energy levels – and we are now seeing this at a much younger age. This is where intervention either from a homeopath or general physician is required.

In my practice, I have seen good results with homeopathic remedies for this problem. The treatment takes into consideration not just the chief symptom or diagnosis – constipation – but a 360-degree view of the child’ personality, lifestyle, likes and dislikes, temperament and even the parents’ emotional  states in pregnancy and at the time of consultation. Hence, the treatment and remedy is individualised taking into account the baby’s unique life situation.

The two most frequently used remedies in my practice for this ailment have been Calcarea Carbonica and Alumina. Calcarea Carbonica is a commonly indicated constitutional remedy, meaning that this remedy can correct energy imbalances on all three spheres – mental, emotional and physical. Most babies do require this remedy at some point in their infancy. Calcarea carbonica babies tend to be flabby, have sour perspiration and give an overall impression of slowness. These babies will be content sitting in one place and observing the world go by rather than being at the heart of the activity. Mother will often say that their child has had some milestone delays. It is no surprise that this slowness also manifests in the digestive system.  A couple of doses of this remedy, prescribed professionally, can have a remarkable impact on the Calcarea carbonica baby’s development.

Alumina is another remedy that has shown to be effective for infant constipation in my practice. The remedy, made from aluminium oxide, is indicated when soft stools require great straining and the stools are passed in very small quantities. It is theorised that an increased use of aluminium-based cookware to heat and prepare meals could have impacted a rise in Alumina-type constipation in our babies.  It would also be worthwhile to read the inserts of skincare products to see if they contain any aluminium-based ingredients that could be contributing to your child’s constipation. However minute the quantity may be, it can penetrate through your baby’s skin and contribute to the problem.

When to Consider Formula for Your Baby

Breastmilk is the preferred nutrition for your baby. It is easy to digest and provides the baby with important maternal antibodies or immune factors.  However, in order to ensure adequate supply of breastmilk, mothers need to have proper rest, good nutrition and take sufficient fluids. For this, the presence of a support network in the few weeks after birth is critical. Unfortunately, not all mothers have access to this support. In such circumstances, it is not surprising that a new mother may feel overwhelmed with responsiblity and this, in turn, can have an adverse effect on the milk supply. Other factors that lead to problems in supply include stressful births, baby’s inability to latch, inverted nipples, etc.

The important thing is to keep trying to breastfeed your baby or to use a breast pump to express the milk.  But if the experience becomes too frustrating and emotionally draining, speak to your lactation consultant and consider supplementing your baby’s feeds with formula. Remember, some breastmilk is better than none, and what your baby needs the most is a positive and happy home environment. Another thing to keep in mind is that whilst breastfeeding facilitates bonding, it is not the ONLY way to bond with your baby.

In the next post, I will discuss the homeopathic approach to baby blues and lactation problems.

The Benefits of Breastfeeding

The decision whether to breastfeed or use formula is no longer a straightforward one. Whilst it is common knowledge that breast milk is the preferred nutrition babies, there are circumstances when the use of formula should also be considered.

I will first briefly discuss the benefits of breastfeeding, which are manifold, for both the child and mother. The effects permeate not just the physical plane but also have a profound psychological and emotional impact. The moment a mother puts her baby to the breast shortly after birth, oxytoxin is released. This hormone helps to expel the placenta and promote healing in the womb. Mothers who breastfeed their baby recover faster after childbirth and have a lower risk of obesity, osteoporosis, breast cancer and ovarian cancer in the long term.

For the baby, mother’s milk contains all the necessary nutrients which are in a form that is easily digestible and assimilated by the baby’s delicate digestive system. Colostrum, which is a thin yellow fluid that flows from the nipple before breast milk is produced, is high in its calorie, protein and antibody content. Babies require milk that is high in fat content because they are unable to digest lactose properly. Hence, formula milk, that is generally high in lactose but contains a lower amount of fat, is more difficult for babies to digest.

The antibodies in the breast milk protect the baby against infections. Breast milk also changes the pH of the stool and intestinal flora, thereby protecting the baby against diarrhea. In terms of long term health, babies who have been breast fed tend to be protected from chronic diseases such as Crohn’s disease, diabetes, allergies, etc.

Breastfeeding is also a time for the baby and mother to bond with each other. Babies who have not been breastfed or have been weaned off too quickly from the breast tend to display subsequent emotional problems such as lack of confidence, a feeling of being neglected and eating problems, amongst others.

However, having mentioned the above, it is important to realise that there are situations where supplementation with formula should be considered and mothers need not feel guilty if they have to do so. I will touch on this topic in my next post.

A Pretty Solution for Teething Blues

Before moving to Sydney, I had never heard of necklaces that eased babies’ teething pains. I had always thought I would turn to my faithful armoury of homeopathic medicines if my son ever displayed irritable teething symptoms. But much to my disappointment, he never clearly showed symptoms pointing to a particular homeopathic medicine. Hence, it was very difficult to prescribe for him.

During my strolls, I noticed many babies and toddlers wearing necklaces with orange beads. Some were even sporting anklets. These beads are actually resin from the Amber tree. When worn, the resin warms as a result of body temperature and releases healing oils that contain succinic acid, which has a pain-relieving property. This compound is absorbed into the skin and bloodstream.

I was a skeptic at first but from the day I put on the necklace on my son, his irritability reduced markedly. I am proud to say that he now has six teeth and has not been hassled by the whole teething process.

Although the beads helped my son, I am not sure if I am satisfied with the explanation provided on how it works. Is our normal body temperature of  36.9 degrees Celsius sufficient to warm the bead such that it releases oils? I am not really sure.

As a homeopath, I much prefer attributing the healing to the energy contained in the amber beads. Just like crystals and precious gems, the amber beads, too, contain healing energies which sooth babies during teething. Perhaps what we need to confirm this is a homeopathic proving on the Baltic Amber.

But one thing is for sure, it works – and looks pretty on the babies too!

Babies’ Ailments – Diarrhoea

Babies’ Ailments

Part 4: Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea is a cause for confusion and concern to many parents. It is important to understand that diarrhoea in babies is a little different from that in younger children and adults. Normally, a person is said to be experiencing diarrhoea when there is a passage of loose, watery stools at least more than 3 times a day. However for babies, especially newborns, there is a tendency to have very frequent bowel movements, up to five times a day. Generally, babies who are breast-fed will pass stools more often than the babies on formula milk.

The trick is to note the appearance of the stools.  In diarrhoea, your baby’s stools will be watery, smelly and will contain mucus. This may be accompanied with a fever and your baby may also loose some weight.

The causes of diarrhoea in babies are varied. Your baby could simply be allergic to something in the diet. The most common is milk allergy. If you suspect that your baby could be allergic to formula milk, try opting for a lactose-free alternative. Also ensure that the formula milk is prepared in a clean environment as babies are particularly sensitive to germs. Other causes include the use of antibiotics – either given to the baby or taken by the mother who is breast-feeding. Generally, babies who are breast-fed are less likely to have diarrhoea as some components in mother’s milk keep the digestive track in optimum state.

In diarrhoea, the most important thing is to ensure that your baby continues receiving enough fluids. Do not stop breast-feeding or giving formula milk if it suits your baby.

If the diarrhoea lasts more than a few days or if your baby develops symptoms such as dry lips or decreased urine, consult your doctor immediately.

The anti-diarrhoeal medication for adults cannot be given to babies as it comes with side-effects.

Homeopathy presents several remedies that are specific for diarrhoea in babies. Once again, it is best to see a qualified homeopath who can match your baby’s symptoms with that of the remedy.

Babies’ Ailments – Colic

Babies’ Ailments

Part 3: Colic

Sleeping, drinking milk and…crying are all part of a baby’s daily routine, especially in the first three months. However, if your baby keeps crying for more than three hours a day, without any apparent reason, chances are that he or she could be experiencing colic. By definition, colic is a condition in which an otherwise healthy baby cries or screams frequently and for extended periods without any discernible reason. Scientists have suggested an immature digestive system, lactose intolerance or even anxiety in breastfeeding mothers as possible causes for colic in babies but there is no established reason for this.

Generally, gripe water is the preferred remedy for many parents. It is a natural remedy that contains herbs such as dil, fennel, chamomile and ginger. Before purchasing a bottle of gripe water, it is necessary to check the ingredients’ list for the absence of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) as this is not an ideal substance for your baby’s delicate system.

Baking soda is alkaline in nature and can upset the acid balance in your baby’s stomach in addition to producing other unwanted side effects. Thus, it is necessary to make an informed choice when selecting a suitable brand of gripe water for your baby.

If you are breastfeeding, also consider if there could be anything in your diet that is aggravating your baby. And finally, no matter how tired and distresed you are with the new parenting routine, remind yourself to remain happy and positive as your baby could simply be picking up your anxieties!

 

Babies’ Ailments – Diaper Rash

Babies’ Ailments

Part 2: Diaper Rash

While changing your baby’s nappy or diaper, you may have come across redness and tenderness on the buttocks and the surrounding area. This irritation is commonly known as diaper rash. There are many reasons for this, with the most common ones being prolonged exposure to a soiled diaper and use of new products.

The diapers that we use nowadays have very good absorption power. Hence, you may not find it necessary to change your baby’s diaper frequently. However, no matter how dry your baby may feel, it is necessary to change the diaper at least six times a day as exposure to a soiled diaper causes irritation and discomfort.

The wipes, powders and lotions that you use on your baby must be safe and gentle. In addition, some babies are sensitive to the detergents that are used to wash their cloth diapers. Hence, it is necessary to be mindful of these things that we may generally deem as insignificant.

Dietary changes may also contribute to diaper rash. This could happen when you introduce solids to your baby’s diet or if you are breast-feeding, it could be a response to changes in your own diet.

You must be extra mindful if your baby has been given a course of antibiotics as this generally upsets the balance of the good bacteria in the body, thus causing diaper rash. This also applies if you have taken antibiotics when breastfeeding your baby.

There are excellent homeopathic remedies which are available in cream or ointment form to help with the external dryness and irritation. However, if the problem persists even after external application, homeopathy also offers constitutional treatment that takes into account your baby’s unique temperament, diet, likes and dislikes. Constitutional approach is generally the preferred treatment strategy as it offers long-term health and wellness for your baby.

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