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Coping with Crybabies

I recently came across a book review in the online journal, The Jerusalem Post. It was the title that caught my eye, “How to Cope With A Crybaby.” Now, I know that there can be a little lost in translation, but I thought the title was a bit cruel–though I’m sure that wasn’t the intention. The book, written in Hebrew, is called Lama Tinokot Bochim? (Why Do Babies Cry?, and, as the review says, it “. . . focuses specifically on how to reduce babies’ crying – which is probably what makes the parenting of newborns most difficult.”

Reading on, the author of the review says that, “While most of the advice they give is scientifically based, they include some techniques such as Bach flowers and other essences, chiropractic, craniosacral, homeopathy, osteopathy and other complementary medicine techniques that have not been scientifically proven to help reduce crying.” Which I think it’s great. My immediate reaction was the thought that this book should be translated–I like how the authors provide sound medical advice, and offer non-traditional remedies as well. For example, craniosacral therapy, which you hear more and more about these days. The following excerpt goes into this in a bit more detail:

But if a baby’s delivery was traumatic – taking a lot time, with induction, the use of medication or an internal monitor attached to its scalp, a forceps or vacuum birth, a cesarean section or lack of oxygen – the baby’s behavior can be affected afterward, they write. Among the signs of trauma are an unevenly shaped head; one eye closed more than the other for some time; tightened lips even when it rests or sleeps; the inability to turn the head to either sides if lying on its stomach; crying when touched on its back, neck or head; difficulty or refusal to open the mouth; and throwing its head backward and arching its back.

If pressure was put during delivery on the upper spine and base of the skull, causing painful movements of the vertebrae, they write, these symptoms of trauma can appear. If the baby is delivered with instruments, the newborn may feel pain that persists for days. If there is a cesarean delivery, the baby may be “unprepared” and liquid may still be filling the lungs because no contractions pushed it out. The baby is suddenly and unnaturally pulled out of the womb; it is best that the mother hold it immediately and give it gentle massage, they advise. With a complementary medicine background, they suggest applying herbal essences such as Bach flowers or “Rescue Remedy” or even have him “manipulated” by a chiropractor, osteopath or craniosacral expert.

So, all in all, the review is great, and the book sounds fabulous. But what really got my blood boiling was the comment by the doctor at the end of the review. Here’s the passage:

Although Prof. Arthur Eidelman – one of the country’s most experienced neonatologists who for decades headed the neonatal unit and the pediatrics department at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center – had not yet read the volume, he was willing to comment when the complementary medicine components were described to him. “Massage therapy and swaddling are definitely relaxing for babies and can reduce crying, and ‘kangaroo therapy’ is very beneficial for both premature and term babies. Acupuncture has been used for colic, and there is some scientific evidence that it can also relieve pain in older people.”

But all the other complementary medicine claims have no backing by scientific research, said Eidelman, and quality control is very variable. “Manipulation, homeopathy and floral essences to treat pain and reduce crying are a lot of nonsense. Nothing has been proven.” He added that they probably won’t cause harm when offered by a well-trained person, but they probably won’t help.

“Low-birthweight babies in general tend to be irritable, as they have low pain thresholds. Crying may also be due to what its breast-feeding mother eats or drinks – coffee, alcohol, medications and even chocolate – and whether she smokes,” he said. “But if nothing helps, parents should urgently take the baby to the doctor for an examination.””

Why write such a great review of a book only to have it shot down? The post ENDS with this comment, leaving a bad taste in your mouth. I can’t figure it out. And, as all of you Colic Calm users know, homeopathy DOES work.

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