Reflux. It’s a word I’d heard of previously, just as I had done with Colic but when your first child has no issues with these things there isn’t any need to look into it further or discover what it actually means to have a baby with either or even both of these conditions. Well, my wake up call has come– quite literally! My newest addition has been suffering for weeks now and no matter what we try there doesn’t seem to be much let up…
What is Reflux?
Reflux is the word used to describe the regurgitation of milk. Babies muscular valves to their stomachs are not strong enough to keep their milk down which means whatever they take in can easily make it’s way back up the oesophagus causing them to vomit. Babies also have very tiny stomachs and if they take in a large feed their bodies cannot handle it so there is only one way for it to cope… bring it up!
However, your baby may show signs of silent reflux which is where the milk doesn’t come up and leave the body, instead it flows back down again causing pain without you realising why. Both types of reflux come with heartburn, discomfort and will often result in a screaming and distressed baby.
Babies do usually grow out of this as they gain weight and develop, with 90% of them recovering by the age of 1.
Dealing with Reflux
Medication is really the only way to deal with severe reflux (larger vomiting than usual, signs of pain and discomfort, not settling, weight worries etc). There are quite a few that a doctor can try but, as with everything baby, it is a case of trial and error to see what can help your little one. As William was premature he was limited to what they could give him so he went onto Ranitidine which is a fairly common medication. We saw an improvement almost immediately and had some light relief from it all but as he grew it stopped working. Most of these medications will be based on weight so you need to keep a close eye on how your baby is growing and coping on their dosage. Unfortunately, my doctors didn’t seem to want to increase William’s dose which led to further upset for him and more sleepless nights. It took a bit of a battle with the GP but he said he couldn’t authorise it so we had to be referred to the hospital. What I have learnt is that nothing is simple when it comes to all these issues and everyone seems scared to prescribe or advise. Go with your gut, though and push to be seen because you as the parent knows your baby best!
Another thing you can try is holding your baby upright for 20 minutes or more after a feed to prevent their stomach contents from coming up. We are always very quick to lay babies down once they drop off from their milky guzzle but this can make reflux so much worse. Mix colic with reflux and it seems as though you have a recipe for disaster too. William has terrible trapped wind and often needs to stop feeding halfway through to be burped– he’s breastfed and it’s unusual for a breastfed baby to need this but he just gets so fussy and takes in too much air, then struggles with his tummy. The burping can often then result in him bringing up what he’s already consumed… back to the beginning then! Be prepared to have to feed A. Lot.
I’ve also noticed that he will also be sick when he is squeezing to pass wind or poo. He can make himself go bright red in the face whilst trying to shift it and the extra pressure on his stomach seems to push the milk up too.
Sick, Sick Everywhere
Oh and the sickness? My word I have never, ever dealt with so much baby sick in my life! I am going through clothes– his and mine– like crazy. All I seem to do is get us both changed and put washing on… constantly. I never understood why anyone would need to buy lots of newborn clothes, I get it now! And don’t think that the sickness is all the same. Oh no. Sometimes we have projectile vomiting, sometimes it’s a quick spit up and other times it’s a slow dribble of milk coming from the side of his mouth, as though his tummy just can’t hold anymore. Plus this isn’t always instant, so be prepared to be dealing with sick even an hour after the feed.
My biggest tip is to keep a very close on your baby’s weight if they are vomiting large amounts. William did drop off his percentile and we were a little worried for a bit but as I am breastfeeding on demand I can easily pop him on the other boob to keep him topped up, plus he is very good at telling me wants milk… NOW!
Sleep and reflux are a toughie. As I said before, keeping them upright for a time really can help so your sleep is even more disturbed because you need to see to their needs after the feed too. As I mentioned in a previous post about Colic, we are co-sleeping and this is the only way we can deal with both the issues and all get some sleep. You have to do what is best for you.
I think the worst part has to be his pain. Watching him squirm, listening to him cry and being helpless to relieve it. There is only so much the medication can do but until his body has developed that little bit more we aren’t going to fully combat the problem.
You just have to slowly get used to having baby sick in your hair, on your clothes, on your face, on your sofa, in your bed… oh god it just gets everywhere! What’s it like to have a baby with reflux? Sorry, it sucks!
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