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Scand J Caring Sci. 2011 Jun;25(2):317-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6712.2010.00829.x. Epub 2010 Aug 18.

Parents' experience of living with a baby with infantile colic--a phenomenological hermeneutic study.

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1
Department of Health Science, Division of Nursing, Lund University, Lund, Sweden. Kajsa.Landgren@med.lu.se

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

About 10% of newborn babies have infantile colic which means that they cry more than 3 hours per day. The baby's crying risks disturbing the early parent-child interaction.

OBJECTIVE:

This study aimed to illuminate the meaning of being a parent of a baby with infantile colic.

DESIGN:

An inductive qualitative interview study.

PARTICIPANTS AND SETTINGS:

Twenty-three parents (12 mothers and 11 fathers) seeking help for infantile colic at a Child Health Clinic in south Sweden, having verified in a diary their babies' crying to more than 3 hours/day, were individually interviewed between March 2006 and April 2007. Parents were selected to ensure variation in age and gender and if they were first-time parents.

METHOD:

Parent's narratives were analysed using a phenomenological hermeneutic method.

FINDINGS:

The main theme found was 'Colic overshadows everything'. Tired and worried parents experienced living in an inferno. Both fathers and mothers suffered with their babies, felt powerless and overwhelmed by strong feelings and neglected their other needs. To get through this period, parents used various strategies to ease their baby's pain. Parents forced themselves not to lose control, to keep a stiff upper lip and generally to bear up. Sharing the burden was important. In spite of the suffering, they also felt hope, happiness and gratitude that they had a healthy baby. The results were reflected upon in relation to systems theory, attachment theory and a theory of interpersonal aspects of nursing.

CONCLUSION:

It is an important task for professionals to empower parents and help them to endure the colic period and to gain higher self-esteem as parents. By listening to the parents' stories they can better understand their situation, offer support and increase self-efficacy.

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