Life with a new baby should feel happy and joyful! Reflux hits so many families i support and often brings them to their knees! Reflux sucks and it doesn't just effect the baby but the whole family!
I recently did a facebook live interview with 'Aine Homer' The Baby Reflux Lady which you can watch below. Aine has published a fabulous book called the 'Baby Reflux Lady's survival Guide', as both her daughters had reflux, so she can totally understand how parents with a reflux baby feel! Reflux sucks!!
So what is reflux?
Reflux is a problem that causes great pain and discomfort for your baby! Reflux is stomach acid coming out the stomach coming up the oesophagus into the throat, hence why you sometimes see a baby posset and vomit their milk up! The reason this happens in babies is the immature digestive system at birth, the contents of babies stomach can return up through the LOS. In many cases this doesn't cause a problem, unless it is effecting your baby and then they may be diagnosed with reflux or silent reflux.
Many babies grow out of it by around 12 months, as it is a maturity issue. In some babies they have a weak upper sphincter muscle, which causes the food to be pushed back up into the oesophagus. When this happens the milk has been mixed with the stomach acid causing it to burn the lining of the oesophagus and the throat, depending on how far the regurgitation reaches. It can be really painful for baby!
What are the signs my baby has reflux?
- Inconsolable crying
- Screaming in pain
- Grunting and squirming
- Dislike of laying on their back
- Back arching
- Painful wind (hard to wind)
- Difficulty in settling
- fussy feeding
- Thrashing their heads around
- Excessive mucus
- Snuffling or appearing to have a bad cold
- Sour smelling breath
- Wet burps & hiccups
It isn't always easy to diagnose reflux, and it doesn't always mean they need medication for reflux. There is always an underlying cause of the reflux, because reflux is a symptom of a primary problem, not the problem itself!
Within my role as a maternity night nurse I have learnt many practical tips to help sooth a reflux baby!
Here are 10 practical tips you can try if you're baby has reflux!
- Reflux babies do not like to lay flat so elevate their sleep crib, i suggest getting something solid and putting it under the legs of the cot or crib, if using books make sure they are the same size, you want to ensure baby's mattress remains flat.
- I find babies under 3 months often like to sleep on you, as laying down causes the reflux symptoms, so some parents for the first few months may choose to co-sleep, if you decide to do this you must ensure you follow the safe guidance from the Lullaby Trust.
- The impact for the family as a whole is not just treating the reflux in isolation, as sleep deprivation can play a huge factor in the family dynamics. So I would suggest putting in place a good feeding and sleeping schedule…
- Offering smaller feeds and give them more often, try feeding baby in an upright position and hold baby upright for up to 20 minutes after each feed!
- Breastfeeding eliminating dairy and soya out of your diet, their maybe something in your diet that baby cant fully digest, always seek support from a dietician.
- Formula fed babies, your healthcare professional may suggest changing their milk, up to 30% of babies with reflux are found to have a cows milk allergy.
- If you are bottle feeding your baby make sure they wind often during the feed, so every few minutes stop the feed and gently wind your baby, also make sure the teat hole isn't too large, as a teat size that is too big for baby will cause the milk to flow out to fast causing baby to gulp and give baby wind!
- Make sure you dress your baby in comfy easy to wash clothes so baby-gro's are great, make sure you have a good supply of these, along with muslins these are good for catching any spit ups or covering their crib sheets, so easy to change if baby possets when they are laid down!
- Having a washable car seat cover and the same on the pushchair, this is so handy and easy to wash for older reflux babies if they are sick!
- Changing bag, always make sure you have two changes of clothes in your bag, take a plastic carrier bag out with you as well to put any soiled clothing in.....Baby wipes are a must! Make sure when changing their nappy you don't do it up too tight around their tummy!
Many mums I meet, whose baby suffers with particularly silent reflux, are often broken by the time they reach out for support. The battle with breastfeeding; failure to thrive; and endless screaming day and night!
I had a mum say to me once she felt that she didn't want her baby, and being a parent to a reflux baby wasn't what she had signed up for! She was actually suffering from postnatal depression! She was severely sleep deprived and her GP never acknowledged the severity of the reflux. She was often told she will grow out of it!
Unfortunately most GP's aren't trained in reflux and that goes for even some paediatricians, you have to search for specialists in treating reflux!