Comfort for colic
What is reflexology? How can it help a colicky baby? And what techniques can you use at home? Reflexologist Samantha Chater talks us through it
The general belief is that colic causes babies to cry for long periods of time, and although there are lots of theories out there why babies have colic, there are no definite answers. There is no international consensus amongst the medical profession and researchers on what causes colic, but one thing that is known is that it can be distressing for both baby and carers. Frustrating, absolutely, as you can feel so powerless, anxious and exhausted if your baby is suffering.
What is reflexology?
Reflexology is a non-invasive and relaxing complementary therapy that aims to optimise both physical and emotional health. It works by massaging and stimulating specific points (usually on the feet, but sometimes on the hands, face and ears) called reflex points. These points are believed to correspond to different parts of the body.
It was really distressing to see my son going through the colicky episodes. I felt very stressed and helpless when it first started, so I looked at where my own knowledge of being a reflexologist and massage therapist could help. I found through using various reflexology and massage techniques the episodes got shorter and eventually stopped. There was light at the end of the tunnel!
Babies are very sensitive and will pick up on your stress, so when you are more relaxed it makes such a difference to your baby. Here's the calming process I used:
- Breathe; taking long, slow, deep breaths, and relax.
- Clear all thoughts and say a positive affirmation to yourself such as 'I am calm and relaxed as I support my baby.'
- Make eye contact with your baby if possible.
- Talk to your baby and tell them you will work through this together and you are there for them.
Simple reflexology techniques
Techniques can be given up to three times a day for no longer than five minutes each time:
- Holding your baby's feet – the power of still touch is not to be underestimated. You can say the word 'relax' to your baby. Move your thumbs to just above centre on each foot. This is the 'solar plexus' reflex. Gently press three times and circle your thumbs – this point is good for general calming.
- Under the big toe some gentle strokes in the direction towards the heel – this reflex helps in the calming of the nervous system.
- Stroking on the inside of the foot from the big toe down to the heel. This also helps calm the nervous system.
- Gentle clockwise circles with the thumb on the middle of foot (where they dip/arch). This area relates to the parts of the digestive system helpful in release of wind and gas. Repeat on the other foot and end with holding the feet.
Using reflexology helped my son and was an empowering time as I felt I connected more with him through this experience and strengthened our bond.
If you are in any doubt about your baby's health please contact your medical professional.
Where can I find out more about reflexology?
Only qualified reflexologists are insured to teach classes where you can learn various reflexology techniques to help your baby. You can also take your baby for a reflexology session if local classes aren't available with a reflexologist.
The Association of Reflexologists' website is full of useful information, including a 'find a reflexologist' service, where you can put in your postcode and find a well-trained and insured reflexologist local to you. There are also interactive foot and hand maps and videos of real client's experiences.