Thursday, October 19, 2017

No More Painful Immunizations?

Reduce the Pain Your Baby Feels with Techniques Like the 5 S’s

Shots hurt. Your baby struggles, cries, and looks at you with such a look of betrayal it can be enough for some parents to feel even worse than their little ones. When babies receive their immunizations there is no rationalizing with them or convincing them of the health benefits in the face of the physical pain. However, new research supports the idea that physical interventions to reduce pain are effective and worthwhile.

The 5 S’s

According to researchers who tested the theory put forth by Dr. Harvey Karp, the 5 S’s method is successful at reducing the experience of pain for childhood immunizations. The results released in the journal Pediatrics demonstrate how an independent study took the idea from the book The Happiest Baby on the Block and put it into practice at 2- and 4-month baby visits where between the two visits children would receive approximately 7 shots.

The following 5 S’s are designed to mimic the comforting sensations your baby would have felt in the womb.

  1. Swaddle
  2. Side or stomach (place baby in your arms on her side or stomach)
  3. Sway (gentle rocking)
  4. Suck (use a pacifier to encourage sucking)
  5. Shush (make a gentle shushing sound in your baby’s ear)

Even though the researchers were initially skeptical about the 5 S’s method, their comprehensive study found that there is good reason to believe that pain can be reduced through gentle physical interventions. The children who received the comforts of the 5 S’s method from medical staff trained in the use of it were comforted more than any other group. Interestingly, the one item that could be left out with the least affect was #4 – sucking. Not all babies use pacifiers or are comforted by this sensation.

Other Ways to Reduce Pain

In other cultures and increasing numbers in America the use of childhood chiropractic interventions and infant massage are being used in similar fashions. Parents are turning to these non-medication approaches for everything from relieving pain and symptoms of ear infections to improving movement and behaviors.

  • Search for local classes on infant massage. I used these techniques to comfort my colicky son and the results were positive. I could use the approaches anywhere and they fit with my overall loosely based attachment parenting style.
  • Consider gentle chiropractic care. Many parents are now even taking their newborns in directly from the hospital for gentle adjustments following the trauma of birth. I took my older child in when she was suffering from constant swimmer’s ear with minimal improvements, but it was better than just throwing more medications at the problem.
  • Look for alternatives and seek a natural remedy. Children with special needs and health concerns, allergies, and heightened sensitivities can often benefit from physical and emotional interventions.

Although I didn’t rely on a study in a journal, I used the principals of the 5 S’s and infant massage as a natural response to the frightening trauma my baby was experiencing. I received a phone call that my 9-month-old daughter was being rushed to the ER because of a seizure, and when I met the ambulance crew and found her screaming on the gurney, my instincts took over. Although I couldn’t pick her up and swaddle her, I cradled my arms around her, shushed quietly into her ear, and gently rubbed her temples and arms. Almost immediately she relaxed enough so that the doctors could work on her, and a nurse said, “That’s all she needed – Mom.” Even though we can’t solve many of life’s pains as easily or quickly, we can use these natural methods to ease some of those inevitable ones for our kids along the way.

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