I’m so pleased with how this guest blogging feature is going. We’ve had seven fantastic writers so far and the response has been brilliant. I’m such a strong believer in the therapy of sharing our parenting difficulties and the response to My Mountain so far shows me you are too. Thanks once again for your lovely comments on last week’s post, and big thanks to Become Mum for sharing such a difficult decision with us.
Our eighth guest blogger, Lucy, is writing about something I can really personally relate to as Caterpillar suffered with this during the early days too, although thankfully not to the same degree.
Trapped wind sounds like a bit of a joke doesn’t it? As a student I lived in a house with six guys, so trust me when I saw I know just about every fart joke going. Having gas is funny, not a serious issue. Or so I thought before I had a baby.
Before my son was born in 2014, I was vaguely aware that babies’ digestive systems don’t work as well as an adult’s. I knew you had to burp them and that they occasionally spit up. Whilst I was pregnant a mummy friend of mine made a comment about Infacol. So I thought I was prepared. We bought plenty of burp cloths and aimed for practicality over cuteness in baby clothes. Sorted, right?
The first couple of weeks after my son was born went past in a haze of hormones and breastfeeding. But then it became clear that there was a problem. Tom started waking up multiple times every night making this horrible groaning sound that turned into cries of pain. Observing him, we could see that he was pulling his legs into his chest. He’d often fart multiple times, which would relieve the problem for a while. But then the groaning would start again.
I knew newborn babies didn’t sleep. But everything I read suggested they would be up three or four times a night. I still have a log I kept of Tom’s sleep over a week during that period. I think he was about 8 weeks old. One entry for a fairly average night says: “down at 19.20. Resettled at 19.40 (gas). Up at 21.40, 22.15, 23.44, 2.10, 3.40, 4.40, 6.00, 6.15 (for day).” Each time I would settle Tom back to sleep (some of these are feeds, though not all). But the discomfort of the trapped gas meant he couldn’t stay down. What was so heartbreaking was that he clearly wanted to be a good sleeper – he was easy to settle and just needed a quick feed or sometimes even just a suck on my finger or a dummy. But he couldn’t stay asleep. He was exhausted and in pain. On a bad night, I’d be up 10 or 12 times with him.
I was frantic (and sleep-deprived). A first-time mum, I had no idea what was normal for a newborn, but it didn’t seem possible that no one had warned me that things would be this bad. My sister-in-law, whose daughter is five weeks younger, didn’t experience anything similar. Hours spent on Google just brought up forum after forum of parents with the same issue, but no real solutions. We tried massage after every nappy change and before bed, which helped a bit. We gave Tom Infacol before every feed, which made him burp like a champion, but didn’t stop the nightly groaning. We swaddled him to sleep, and gave him a dummy, as sucking seemed to ease the pain.
Nothing worked, though introducing a dummy would come back to bite us later when the 4 month sleep regression hit.
When I spoke to the doctor, she just shook her head and gave me a prescription for infant Gaviscon (useless, as he wasn’t suffering from reflux). He’ll grow out of it, was her verdict. And I’m sure he would have done, eventually. But eventually was no good to me. We needed sleep! And I didn’t want my baby to be hurting anymore with something that seemed like it should be preventable.
Eventually, after hours of research, mostly carried out on my phone in the small hours of the morning, I decided to try probiotics. I had heard about them before, but was unsure about giving live bacteria to a baby. What if it made him ill? Plus, the infant drops were expensive, at £15 for a tiny bottle, and our GP had no interest in prescribing them. But we had tried everything else. And my sleep deprivation was making me impatient, snappy and weepy. It was affecting my parenting, and my relationship. I scoured medical journals and established that, even if it didn’t help, the probiotics were unlikely to do any harm.
It took 2 months of disturbed nights before I tried the probiotics. Tom was 10 weeks old. The first day we gave them to him, he napped pretty well and only woke up twice in the night with gas (plus twice for feeds). The second night, he woke twice for feeds and not at all for gas. It felt like a miracle.
Looking back now that my son is 16 months old, 10 weeks of sleepless nights doesn’t seem so bad. But when we were in it, it seemed like a nightmare that would never end. The worst thing was the feeling of helplessness – not being able to ease his discomfort and getting no advice or support from medical professionals. Even just some sympathy would have helped! New parents need to feel like they are being listened to, that their concerns are not just dismissed, and sadly that wasn’t my experience. That there was something available that solved the issue, which we weren’t told about, is almost secondary to the lack of support.
Sleep deprivation is awful and it stops us from being the parents we can be. To anyone struggling with sleep issues my best advice is to be kind to yourself. Don’t feel like you have to pretend everything is alright when it isn’t. And if there are underlying issues, keep pushing for treatment. Do your own research too – not all GPs specialise in infants so they may not have the most up-to-date information. Talk to other parents who have experienced the same problems and find out what worked for them.
This post is about parenting struggles, not promoting probiotics, so I haven’t included any brands or links. But if anyone does want to know what we used, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to help. I promise I’m not sponsored by them (though they totally should be paying me the amount of recommending to other parents I’ve done!).
Lucy is a working mum, living in London with her son and technology obsessed husband. She believes that all of us should be spending more time outdoors, especially our kids, so she has made a pledge to spend at least an hour a day outside with her son. She blogs about their adventures at Project: Urban Wilding which also features musings on gentle parenting and natural childhood. Lucy is also on Twitter and Facebook.
*If you would like to contribute to the My Mountain series with a piece about your own biggest parenting challenge please email email@example.com*
49 comments on “Trapped Wind and Sleep Deprivation – Guest Post by Lucy Jacob”
I know what you mean about those sleepless nights – when you’re in them, it feels like it will never end. We went through about 12 weeks of sleeplessness after my daughter hit the 4 month sleep regression and then it DIDN’T END. I think a lot of the problems we had were of our own making – she associated feeding/rocking with sleeping and couldn’t get to sleep without breastfeeding or being held. Things have improved a bit now that she’s 9 months, but she’s still not a great sleeper – I’m still up with her a few times a night and don’t see that changing anytime soon! #justanotherlinky
Thanks so much for reading and sharing your own experience x
The four month sleep regression almost killed me. We’d got him sleeping really well for about 6 weeks and then, boom, up every 45 minutes needing his dummy put back in. Ours only ended when he decided to suck his thumb instead. But he’s now a really good sleeper at 18 months. Hopefully your little one will get there soon too!
We were really lucky with Marianna that she was a good sleeper, right from the get go. All the health visitors, etc, said it was because she was on NICU for a few weeks and had to get used to settling herself – which kind of contradicted all the airy fairy stuff we’d had at antenatal classes about not being able to spoil a baby with bad routines before the age of one! x #KCACOLS
Yeah I’m never sure what to believe with the can’t spoil vs teach them to settle themselves thing. Thanks for commenting on Lucy’s post x
We had Tom on a really strict routine for the first year…once the gas issues and the 4 month sleep regression were overcome, he became a really good sleeper and I do think it helped having that regularity. Nowdays we have no real routine at all but the good habits have stuck, thankfully!
Master X was a colicky and reflux baby so we had trouble with him vomiting, screaming and groaning. I can relate to what you are saying about being taken seriously – we were told he would just grow out of it too!
Must be so difficult. We struggled a little but nowhere near to that extent. So grateful to Lucy for sharing. Thanks for reading x
So frustrating isn’t it? Yeah, maybe they do grow out of it but when they are in pain it’s hard to accept that as an answer!
Oh yes, I can relate to the post so well. My first son just didn’t like to sleep during the night, in his cot until he was about 12 weeks old, it was an awful time not knowing what to do and having no experience behind me. My second loved his sleep and didn’t have a problem at all. Looking back I am so pleased we all got through it ok as it was a horrid time. Its so good to talk and to see posts like Lucys so that all new parents can see that its not just them thats going through this. Thanks so much for having this post:)
Absolutely agree. I think it’s so important to share our parenting issues as well as the joys to help everyone to feel more supported and less alone. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your own experience x
Lots of people go through it, but when you are a new mum the whole thing can feel unmanageable. Reading other parents’ experiences definitely helped get me through, which is why series like this are so important (thanks Laura!)
I can really relate to this post as oldest had very similar problems and never slept for longer than an hour and all we were told was that it can’t be wind as she is breast fed. We were offered no help whatsoever and the sleep deprivation is like torture! it took us a good year before we had one amazing night where she slept through! I would say she didn’t start sleeping properly until she was three. A very different story to youngest who loves her sleep and had no problems with wind, but we did everything exactly the same! #KCACOLS
Thanks so much for reading and sharing your own story x
Very frustrating. We breastfed too and he still had these issues, so clearly that is bollocks! At least your second one is better…I’m terrified of having to go through that again!
Such a great post and I can relate to this so much. Our eldest suffered with trapped wind and it was horrible. Sleepless nights for all and seeing her in pain was just the worst bit. We should’ve bought shares in Infacol the amount we went through! But she did just grow out of it. Our littlest has had no problem with wind which is amazing! #KCACOLS
Thanks so much for commenting and sharing your own struggles x
Infacol never seemed to work for us. But I still find the odd bottle stashed round the flat from when we were desperately trying with it
Thanks for sharing your story this must have been a really frustrating time for you all as a family. #SundayStars
Thanks for commenting x
This just must have been awful! Watching the little man suffer and be so tired!! I’ve had wind pain and it’s stabbing. So glad something worked and will bear this is mind. Xx #sundaystars
Thanks so much for commenting x
It was horrid. He was so small and had such a sad little cry when it woke him up again. But the probiotics really did work like magic. If we have another baby I will take them throughout pregnancy to be on the safe side!
That’s interesting! Mine wouldn’t / couldn’t fart either, and never kipped. We used to push his knees into his tummy and bicycle his legs, it was like a cluster bomb in his boppy going off bless him. Wish I’d known about probiotics, he didn’t sleep for 2 years!! #KCACOLS
I could not have survived two years of it. Always very impressed by the parents who do and are still able to function!
Oh bless port little bubs, I’m so glad you found something to help in the end! My two suffered with wind too but luckily nothing to that degree. Xx #KCACOLS
Thanks for reading x
Such an informative post that I think loads of parents would find extremely useful. As you say babies digestive system isn’t as good as ours, and takes time to adjust to the milk. We had a similar problem to you, with groaning and grunting in the night, and did lots of cycling of our little one’s legs, we also dosed her up on Infacol before every feed, and the tried gripe water. Our problem wasn’t as bad as yours, and it disappeared by about 8 weeks, but I sort of know how hard it is when there is nothing you can do and being sleep deprived. I am so glad that you found a solution with the probiotics, and I hope that you’re not feeling as sleep deprived now. Claire x #KCACOLS
Oh, I feel so much for those that have experienced really windy babes. A suffered a little but not to the extent of others and it was still difficult enough to deal with! I’d actually forgotten about all this and with baby #2 on his or her way, I need to remember how tough those times can be. Hopefully, they won’t be colick-y but it’s so common there’s a good chance! Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays! Kaye xo
It’s easy to forget isn’t it? I think we all block stuff out. Thanks for commenting x
My son went through the same when he was just over a week old, but he would get it at the same time every night 6pm-10pm. I was lucky though because my mum went through it with my brother so at least we knew what it was. We used infacol but that really didn’t make much difference but gripe water helped, I would give him a little bit before each feed, I also found anaseed tea helped aswell ( I know they say nothing but milk for the first couple of months but we had advice from a private midwife) I think ultimately he just grew out of it. I will def be keeping this in mind for the next one, better to be prepared x #KCACOLS
Thank you for reading and sharing your tips x
My baby girl is 5 weeks old and sometimes sleeps 2 and a half hours at a time by night and sometimes 4 hours. She wakes up wanting to be fed – a very hungry baby! I am breastfeeding her, she farts a lot and gets wind and hiccups but settles after. xx
Thanks for commenting x
Oh poor Lucy, that sounds absolutely terrible. Neither of mine suffered with gas or trapped wind, but they certainly had other things that kept me awake in the wee hours also scrolling frantically on my phone. It’s kind of a rite of passage for new parents I’m beginning to think. But it doesn’t make it any easier. I cannot imagine how helpless you feel being unable to help or ease a situation, but I’m so pleased this tale had a very happy ‘miracle’ ending. A great tip to shout about for new parents perhaps? Thanks so much for linking up with #SundayStars. Steph xxx
I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for reading and commenting x
We had this struggle too. My eldest really suffered with trapped wind which nothing helped. Like you I was prescribed things and I wish I had known about probiotics as I would have tried it. When struggling with a crying baby and no sleep you will try anything that could help. Thanks for linking up to #justanotherlinky xx
Thanks for reading and commenting. So chuffed I was able to share Lucy’s guest post x
Aww bless him – sounds like he was in so much pain. Neither of mine had much trouble with trapped wind, though both had reflux issues. Doctors weren’t able to provide much assistance on that actually either – apparently the most effective treatments are the ones that go in & thicken milk, so if you’re breastfeeding they don’t have much to offer! That can’t really be helped though. Interesting about the probiotics. #KCACOLS
Thanks so much for reading and commenting x
This is such a great guest post. And poor little man being in so much pain. And poor mummy and daddy having to cope with absolutely horrendous sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation affects so much that it is even hard to think. I am so glad that the probiotics worked and that your son is now okay. Thanks so much for linking up to #SundaysStars. Hugs Lucy xxxx
Oh poor little boy. It is just horrible when you see them suffering. I can relate to this post as my little daughter had lost of colics and used to cried a lot. This happened when she was 2 months old. It was very difficult to settle her. This was disturbing her sleep a lot at night so we tried every position to help her sleep better and the only one she liked and settled was being on her tummy which apparently you should not do. It was a fight in my head to decide what to do. She was sleeping next to me so I used to observe her just in case. This position really helped her with her colics and she was able to sleep through the night happily. Since then she sleeps like that. This is controversial but sometimes you have to do what you think actually helps. Thanks so much for sharing this at #KCACOLS. I would love to see you again on Sunday! 🙂 x
Sometimes you just have to do what works! Thanks for sharing your experience, and for reading x
This just made me relive the early months with my children. They had terrible wind and reflux I spent many nights and days in floods of tears. It’s incredibly exhausting for us and our babes. It’s actually awful. I was always drenched in sick as was everyone’s bed. My poor washing machine. But when you’re out of that phase you kind of forget don’t you?
Sounds so awful, I’m sorry you struggled with this. Thanks so much for commenting on Lucy’s post x
What a horrible experience, and ridiculous that you were just brushed off by the GP, it really does frustrate me when you know something isn’t right and you’re not listened to by the people that should be there to help. I’m glad you found a solution. Sleep deprivation is the worst! #KCACOLS xx
It’s shocking how ill-informed some GPs are on all kinds of things 🙁 Thanks for commenting x