Yet to give birth to any baby myself but I have spent a couple of times staying with those tending to newborns to know some of the challenges they encounter. One challenge that seems common to virtually all the cases is the occasional rumbling noise made by the infant's stomach accompanied by physical discomfiture and or spasms of cry that start as early as the first week after birth and usually lasts as long as the third month after birth. Locally here in Nigeria, especially in the Southwestern Yoruba speaking side which I happen to stem from, the phenomenon has a common name to it and is believed to be associated with the umbilical cord.
The remaining portion of the cord that connects the baby's abdomen to the placenta is usually cleaned with methylated spirits at the point where the cord connects with the abdomen to prevent infection by microbes while waiting for the cord to dry and drop off from the abdomen. This remnant is linked by the locals to be the source of the rumbling stomach, discomfiture, and cries of a neonatal. In medicine, the entire phenomenon together is referred to as colic pain and the cause of the condition remains largely inconclusive. More specifically, the family doctor website described colic pain as follows:
Colic is when an otherwise healthy baby cries or fusses frequently for no clear reason. It’s defined as crying for more than 3 hours a day at least 3 days per week for more than 3 weeks. source
The unexplainable crying of a neonate can be frustrating and totally strange to anyone that lacks experience in tendering to newborns. Some of the hypotheses that have been formulated to explain the phenomenon include the formation of pockets of gas within the digestive system, growth and development of the digestive/nervous system, hormonal issues, among other factors. Locally around here, the hypothesis about the trapping of gas within the digestive system as the cause of colic pain holds a lot of water. It is normal for babies to swallow air during feeding and medically, this air has been found to be capable of causing discomforts truly but has never been linked with colic pain.
Burping of the baby is recommended in order to get rid of the air that might have been swallowed by the baby while being fed. There are a couple of recommended procedures for burping and if indeed there exists a link with colic pain, burped babies are not supposed to feel any colic-related discomfiture. My experience, however, tells me that it is not so and the lack of any credible scientific evidence proves me right so far.
Many supposed remedies have been manufactured both by the locals and profit-seeking pharmaceutical industries with claims that they are antidotes to the rumbling stomach and associated discomforts of the colic. But in reality, just as the cause or causes of colic pain remain a medical mystery, there are no scientifically proven remedies for it. Some of the drugs usually recommended by local Pharmacists include infacol and gripe water. The description of the infacol goes thus:
Infacol has been specially formulated to relieve wind, infant colic and griping pain. source
I have witnessed people use the infacol formula in high hope that it will calm their babies down from colic pain but all to no avail. Cannot really say the same for the wind relief claim though as most of them were well informed on the art of burping. The same goes for the gripe water, although the manufacturers are less vocal about being a remedy for colic pain and more about gas/wind relief.
From experience, one method that seems to work for babies suffering from colic pain is to either put the baby on one's shoulder with the stomach particularly resting on it, or placing the baby on his/her stomach while massaging their backs simultaneously. These methods remain largely anecdotal as there is no scientific proof that they are effective against infant colic pains. However, since there are no proven drugs, there is no harm in trying. albeit with caution, in the face of nothing else to do.
One thing that I will never recommend for anyone though, is the use of supposed herbal remedies for babies, irrespective of the ailments the baby might be suffering from.
Babies suffer from colic pain and the cause of these pains remains a medical mystery. Many drug manufacturers have formulas that supposedly cure this colic pain but experience has shown that these formulas are placebos at best. There are anecdotal procedures to relieve babies from this pain as much as possible and these include placing them on their stomach while lying on the bed and massaging their backs or placing them on shoulders with their stomach against the shoulder itself.