A Mom’s Anxiety “Ain’t” the Answer for Colic - Woodmam

Colicky infants are born, not made.

Dr. Martin Stein, Encounters with Children

It’s common for mothers of irritable babies to feel jealous and self-critical when they see other moms with easy-to-calm infants. Those feelings can cast a shadow over a woman’s confidence and make her wonder if her anxiety causes her baby’s crying.

Fortunately, during the first few months of life babies aren’t able to tell when their mothers are distressed and worried. Remember, babies are just babies! They are not born with the ability to read their mother’s feelings as if they were messages written on her forehead in lipstick. These little prehistoric creatures even have trouble … burping. So don’t worry about your baby being affected by your anxiety.

Also, new parents sometimes mistakenly assume their newborns are nervous because their hands tremble, their chins quiver, and they startle at sudden sounds or movements. However, those reactions are normal signs of a newborn’s undeveloped nervous system and automatically disappear after about three months.

In my experience, however, there are a few ways a mother’s anxiety about her fussy infant could unintentionally nudge her baby into more crying:

Anxiety might lessen the mother’s breast-milk supply or interfere with her milk letdown, thus frustrating a hungry baby. (See Chapter 14 to remedy these feeding problems.)

A mother may be so distracted and depressed that she’s emotionally unavailable to comfort her crying infant.

An anxious mother may be afraid to handle her baby as vigorously as is necessary to calm the screaming. (See the discussion about “Vigor” in Chapter 7.)

Nervous moms tend to jump impatiently from one calming method to another. They can get so lost in their anxiety they don’t notice they’re upsetting their babies even more.

However, when you carefully study the issue of maternal anxiety, it’s clear that it can’t be making a million of our babies cry for hours every day. The nervous-mommy theory fails to explain three colic characteristics:

Colic in preemies starts about two weeks past their due date. If a mother’s anxiety caused her baby’s colic, crying would occur earlier and more often in preemies. After all, these fragile babies can turn even calm parents into nervous wrecks.

Colicky babies seem to be in pain. Even if your baby could sense your anxiety, why would she cry as if she had pain?

Colic is as likely to occur with a couple’s fifth baby as with their first. This is the most powerful argument against a connection between anxiety and colic. Since experienced parents are more confident, their fifth baby should be less prone to colic than their first, but that just isn’t the case.

Trina didn’t need to worry that her stress had invaded Tatiana’s tender psyche. In reality, the opposite is usually the case. Your baby’s wail can trigger red alert in your nervous system, making you feel tense and anxious!
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