What is Reflux?
Reflux (gastro-oesophageal reflux) occurs when the milk your baby has swallowed comes back up into his oesophagus or mouth. Both formula-fed and breastfed babies can have reflux (DTB 2009).
It seems like his entire young life Noah has been suffering the scourge of reflux.
It was with my Maternity Support Worker that I raised the subject initially when he was 3 weeks old after he had been sick after almost every feed. This had only been happening for a couple of days at that point, she wasn’t concerned but suggested I got him weighed at baby clinic the next day to check he wasn’t losing. She mentioned that the GP wouldn’t do anything unless he wasn’t thriving.
Wracked with worry, off I trotted to baby clinic the following day. Here I was confronted as to why I was weighing him again this week having only weighed him the week before. Not that I felt I needed to explain myself, I explained the MSW suggested I checked his weight as he was sicky. Her reply was a rather terse and almost accusatory “Have you not taken him to the GP?”. Now not only was I a new mum to a 3 week old who was still learning how to get out the house to get to an appointment on time, I was also concerned about my baby’s health and sleep deprived. I was now being accused of neglecting my son (or so it seemed). On the verge of tears, AGAIN I explained the MSW said the GP wouldn’t do anything unless he was losing weight, hence the reason I was here to get him weighed. To which she agreed … Go figure!
He was fine, of course he was! I asked for advice, I was told that the sick can look a lot more than you think and if he started losing weight or he started projectile vomiting, to take him to the GP and he’d probably prescribe infant Gaviscon. Here she asked how I fed him and on responding exclusively breast fed, her reply was a not so helpful “HA, have fun”. Cue me feeling horrified at the prospect!
Anyway, relieved that he was getting enough sustenance I went home and read other parents’ stories of reflux babies and took on board advice they found helpful.
I changed my diet. I cut out dairy, I cut out acidic foods, gassy foods, spicy foods, caffeine, chocolate, sugar, I felt sure I’d be confined to a dry toast diet. Nothing made the blindest difference. I took solace that he was thriving and just became accustomed to changing him, and myself, more often.
At his 6 week GP check I mentioned this. Again, no concern as he’s gaining weight and it’s quite a normal thing in newborns. However I remarked that the vomiting did seem to be getting worse at times, sometimes covering us both, furniture and floor in one motion so he prescribed me Infant Gaviscon.
All I can say about that is the nursery nurse was right… I’ve never in all my life come across a more ridiculous and difficult thing to administer. It is totally anti-breastfeeding and you’d think with the increase in breast fed infants and it’s recommendations by healthcare professionals that Reckitt Benckiser would devise a more user-friendly way to administer it given it’s wide use. You basically, as a breast feeding mum, have to break the feed, boil and cool some water, mix up the powder, then find a way to deliver the meds to your screaming infant (having had his lovely feed broken) then carry on feeding. Now when you’re on your own this is nigh on impossible. It is, in short, a nightmare to deliver as it’s as thin as water so pretty much just pours out of baby’s screaming mouth.
I have used it a few times, I hate it, I hate administering it, Noah hates taking it and I haven’t seen any improvement by using it so have stopped. If his weight starts dropping then I’ll have to give it another, more serious go but until then I’ve been tolerating it and trying different techniques.
I’ve tried feeding him so his head is higher than his feet, I’ve held him upright for a half hour after feeds. I’ve broken up feeds and burped him throughout. I’ve elevated his crib at one end. Nothing helps, as soon as I lie him down or pick him up he vomits.
If he falls asleep after a feed on the pillow I feed him on and I don’t move him he doesn’t vomit. This means he doesn’t get burped but keeps his food down. As soon as we move him off the pillow he vomits. We’ve taken to transferring him to his crib on the pillow and lying them both inside this way all is well. Now, while we are awake, this is fine. At night, however, it’s a totally different scenario. We can’t leave him on the pillow as it’s a suffocation risk yet as soon as we lie him down he wakes himself up vomiting within half an hour. It’s infuriating to say the least. I think we’ve managed 3 nights where he hasn’t vomited on lying him in his crib.
People say he’ll grow out of it and this I’m sure of… I have never once thought that he’d still be vomiting as a toddler. What I really hate is when people say “it’s just a bit of extra laundry”! No, no it isn’t just a bit of extra laundry. Laundry I can deal with, it’s the fact the poor tyke is constantly covered in sick, his nose and mouth are becoming red from the acids despite immediate removal of said vomit. He can’t sleep properly, he startles himself awake by not being able to breathe because there’s vomit coming out his nose and then starts a whole vomiting scenario. He must be so shattered and the only way he’ll get a decent night’s sleep is lying in an upright position on my chest which is not an ideal situation for anyone.
Any advice/techniques will be gratefully received.
The only thing I’ve learnt throughout this whole process is how burnt milk smells after straightening my hair one morning after a particularly bad night.