Please visit us at our new website!
Does it seem like everyone else’s baby feeds like a dream and is happy all the time? Are you constantly mopping up regurgitated milk and trying to calm your fractious baby? Have you heard of reflux? It is often wrongly confused with colic and even the medical professionals can be reluctant to talk much about it. One of us at Nurturing Mums has had not 1, but 2 refluxy babies; one of whom was on medication for 9 months, the other thankfully grew out of it quite quickly. We know firsthand how it can knock your confidence and be extremely hard to deal with. So, through this post we want to try to help you understand what you can do if your baby does have reflux or silent reflux. Please remember, though, that this article is based on our own experiences and should not precede or take the authority over medical advice. The golden rule is if you are concerned, please see your GP.
What is reflux?
Reflux simply means the the contents of the stomach washing back up from the stomach into the oesophagus. It can wash up to the throat and be swallowed again (silent reflux) or can be ejected out of the mouth, sometimes with force. Reflux can sometimes be simply a matter of a young baby having an ‘immature’ digestive system that is struggling to cope with milk. It can also be a sign of an intolerance, or allergy, to milk or milk proteins.
Watch to look out for:
1. Discomfort or pain whilst feeding
This could include arching his back away from the bottle or breast, or drinking half a feed and then refusing more after being winded.
2. Excessive possetting or projectile vomiting
It is really common to bring up a little milk after a feed, but if your baby is bringing up what seems like a whole feed on a regular basis, or projectile vomiting (where the milk comes back up with force in an arc, sometimes up to 3 metres away), then you should think about a visit to the GP.
3. Lack of weight gain (or interestingly excessive weight gain)
Bizarrely, both these signs can be an indicator of reflux, because the baby is too uncomfortable to feed, or because they feed to mask the pain of the acid.
Top tips to help a refluxy baby (and his mum!)
1. If you are really concerned, please go to your GP and keep visiting until you are satisfied that you are helping your baby. We found some GPs to be dismissive of reflux, waving it away as colic that will pass on its own. Our miserable babies, however, were not too satisfied with this response, so they pushed their mummy to seek the advice of a paediatric gastroenterologist who took them seriously.
2. Raise your baby’s cot. If your baby has milk or acid travelling back up his oesophagus, it could be painful for him to lie on his back. Simply putting a few hardback coffee table books under the legs of his cot can help the acid to stay in his tummy.
3. Wind your baby frequently and well during and after feeds to minimise his discomfort.
4. Keep him upright after a feed for longer than you think! This will help the milk stay down too.
5. Avoid over feeding or feeding too frequently – refluxy babies don’t like their tummies to be too full – they need time to digest. This is especially true during the night – where possible, try to encourage your baby to drop night-time feeds, which will make him more comfortable.
What NOT to do
1. Don’t make any changes to your baby’s regular milk (if bottle feeding) without consulting your doctor. Every baby is different and although friends may suggest an alternative formula, tread carefully.
2. If you do change formula, or if whilst breastfeeding you cut out dairy, then these changes need to be given at least 7 days to take effect.
3. Do not start any medications, even over-the-counter remedies like Gaviscon, without the advice of a doctor.
There is a lot of excellent advice here: Living with Reflux
To make you feel just a little bit better, REMEMBER: 90% of babies grow out of reflux by their 1st birthday!
Did any of your babies suffer with reflux or silent reflux? Do you have any other tips to share? Fill in the form below to get more details of our upcoming April postnatal course.