9 reasons your baby might be crying, colicky and not sleeping

There are many reasons why babies cry and struggle sleeping, but they can also be down to common factors. TMM Expert, Christian Bates shares examples he regularly sees in clinic and how you can help your baby.

Forceps or ventouse delivery
Both these instrument delivery types can leave tension in your baby’s head. This can be very noticeable if it has left your baby with a “cone head” or even bruising from the forceps. The skull has 26 bones and many, many joints between these bones.

You may notice that your baby has some head tensions if they are upset and crying and particularly they don’t like their head being touched, don’t like clothes going over their head or having hats on. You will just know they are uncomfortable.

Breastfeeding issues such as latching 
Babies not latching well can be a major problem with them feeding correctly. I personally think there is another extremely common reason babies don’t breast feed well, more on that next.

The bones of the baby’s head and face are obviously involved in their latch and their sucking. Particularly the jaw bone and the joint that connects the jaw to the ear bones and then all the bones and joints that are connected and associated to these bones. Basically the whole head and neck!

If your baby has had a traumatic delivery, such as a forceps or ventouse delivery it may have caused some tightness in the bones associated with their latch. If the latch isn’t good then feeding can be difficult, painful and they can take air in and be colicky.

Breast feeding issues - position
I find this one of the most common causes of breast feeding difficulties. And it’s not the mothers fault! Very often after the intense pressures of labour and the time a baby has spent curled up in their mothers womb leaves them physically unable to find a comfortable position to lay in to breast feed well. Most babies really favour looking to the right side, some actually struggle to turn their head to the left at all. You may have noticed this, have a look for yourself.

If this is the case then your baby will find it hard to feed off your right breast as they can’t turn in to that side well. You would have to use a rugby ball hold to help this. But using a rugby ball hold is just a temporary fix and actually holding that pattern, when instead, by releasing tensions you can actually help the baby feed nicely whatever position they are laying in and turning their head to.

Constantly sucking
Babies that constantly suck, graze, snack or cluster feed can be a big cause of mothers giving up breast feeding due to pain and exhaustion. It is very common that these babies are sucking for comfort not because they are hungry. They can even throw up the milk they have drunk as they are full already.

A baby's sucking motion is calming to them and releases pain relieving chemicals and the sucking motion actually relieves tension in their head. This is called non-nutritive sucking and has been proven to decrease stress in the baby and is used in hospitals, for example when babies need a blood test.

By calming your baby you can reduce the amount they want to suck. If they suck less then they will not be using the breastfeeding mum as a dummy, only actually for food. This can be really helpful if breastfeeding is a struggle. If you are bottle feeding then using a dummy can help. This seems to be one of the most valid reasons for using a dummy.

Your baby always wants to be held
Babies that need to be held and constantly rocked and shushed have often had a traumatic or shocking / surprising delivery. They may have had head irritation through instrument delivery but surprisingly they may have had a very fast delivery that has that has put them into a mild state of stress or anxiety, a bit like having too many coffee’s for an adult. They are often very light sleepers, or jumpy and need swaddling. I have found that babies that have been exposed to some sort of stress around or just before delivery can be like this too. Babies that have had a planned C-section are particularly like this.

A stressful delivery 
I realise that all deliveries have an element of stress but some can really have more than others. If an emergency C-section is needed or if instruments have to be used, or perhaps the baby was born naturally but the delivery was long, or extremely fast then it could be felt as stressful to the mother.

This study found that the stress levels in a baby remain consistent in them for 2 months: 

This would mean that ideally you would work on ways to calm your baby’s nervous system. They are a Meerkat baby (have a strong neck that arches)
I call babies that have a strong neck a “Little Meerkat Baby BirthType" .

When you hold them up on your shoulder they lift their head up seeming like they have a “strong” neck. Little babies don’t really have a strong neck, it’s more that they are stiff or rather stuck in the “pattern” of their delivery. They can really arch backwards and throw themselves away from you so you have to hold onto them tight.

The delivery these babies have had is usually quite long and they may have got stuck or even been very low down and engaged for a long-time prior to the actual delivery. All it means is that they have spent a long time with their head having contractions on as they curve down the birth canal. They have basically stayed in this compressed shape. This can make them cranky and upset and not sleep. They may not like laying down on their back. It is much better when these babies are nice a soft and more relaxed and calm in your arms.

These babies tend to be really tricky to breastfeed as described previously.

They are a Little Frog Baby BirthType (always have their knees curled up in a little ball)

So many parents nick name their baby a “Little Frog”. These babies have their knees up all the time and want to be on your shoulder with their knees tucked up and under. If you put them on their back their legs come up and can even drop to the side so they seemingly roll on to their side.

When the baby is in a their mothers womb they are curled up in this frog position, or foetal position. The delivery process down the birth canal actually stretches them out. However, if the delivery was very fast (usually a second or third baby) or was a C-section then the baby doesn’t get stretched out so they stay in a little ball.

It’s very helpful to have these babies “unwound” so their legs gently release down and they are straighter and seem longer. Can you picture that when you feed your baby so its tummy is full of milk and they then bring their knees up the milk won’t be able to comfortably pass through their tummy? Some babies bring their knees up so much it can actually push the milk back out and reflux it. Also if there are other factors causing your baby to create lots of wind then this will become easily trapped if their knees are being pulled right up. This could give them colicky wind pain.
Planned C-section
I spoke about the “Little Frog BabyBirthType” babies after C-section. This is especially true of planned C-section babies but planned C-section babies also commonly have other issues so they get a section to themselves (no pun intended).

Planned C-section babies can be very ratty! Just constantly upset, crying and not happy and no smiles and jumpy! 

I put this down to the way that they have had a surprising entry into the world with no warning. Picture yourself in bed fast asleep and at 2 am someone comes in, pulls the duvet off, switches the light on and throws a bucket of water over you! That could be what it’s like for a baby coming into the world when they are pulled out into the operating theatre.

Let me describe a C-section baby to you. They aren't all like this of course but it may hold true for you. C-section babies can be on edge and ratty. They can be “wired”, jumpy, not going into a deep sleep and they wake at the slightest noise. They may also sleep better if they are swaddled as their own jumpiness can wake them up.

Picture yourself having too many coffee’s just before bed. You know it’s dark and it’s bed time but your body just doesn’t want to relax into a deep sleep.

I have also made help videos on each one on my website.

p.s don't forget you got this mama!

Love Sophia x