Infant Reflux – Our experience
I certainly think back on NOM’s first 6 months as being an array of clothes changes, muslins, anxieties and pools of sick! Yes NOM, (like many newborn infants) had infant reflux…
It took us a while to realise that NOM’s constant breast feeding and sickness was anything unusual because as a new mum I didn’t have anything to compare to. The first couple of weeks we were just adjusting to being first time parents and knew nothing of the reasons behind her poor sleeping habits, constant sickness and her uncomfortable crying (is that not a normal newborn?). We just thought it was normal! It was only when other people started to comment on how sickly she was that we began thinking about underlying problems that were causing her discomfort, as she was wasn’t the most settled of babies and cried ALOT.
This is when we embarked on our everlasting battle of trying to get medical professionals to listen to us! We took her to the doctors at around 2 months old as her poos had gone from the golden brown colour that most breastfed babies had, to a very deep green colour which were quite explosive (TMI sorry!). Doctors put it down to colic and we spent the next month trying all sorts of colic relief products on the market (Colief, Infacol, Dentinox colic drops, even Gripe water!) and different techniques to release wind – my poor hubby spent many of the early hours bouncing NOM up and down in order to get her to release what we thought was trapped wind! None of these gave much relief and we were just hanging on to hope that they would magically work, what with the exhaustion of little sleep and the upset of NOM crying.
In the end I had to return back to searching on the internet, putting in NOM’s symptoms of poor sleep, constant sickness (even hours after a feed) and patterns of discomfort/crying. We eventually came across infant reflux! After reading the symptoms of this:
Waking often at night
Comfort feeding to help alleviate pain
Weight loss or poor weight gain
Excessive crying or irritability during or after feeding
we realised that it may not be colic but reflux instead. Back to the doctors we went, although she was very reluctant to do anything. Only after doing my research and talking to other mums that had experienced a similar situation, did I know that infant Gaviscon can be prescribed as a feed thickener. I literally had to beg to try it with NOM although the downside was the constipation side effects.
The infant Gaviscon was tricky to administer when breastfeeding, as you generally have to put it in formula to administer it. So cue syringe feeding the infant Gaviscon after mixing it powder with water either before/after a breastfeed. We didn’t really see an improvement in her sickness and all it seemed to do was make her poo more formed. I even tried eliminating dairy based products in my own diet as I read it could be linked to cows milk intolerance but as it can take a while for the cows milk proteins to completely leave your system, we couldn’t see if this was a factor or not but I continued anyway.
The final straw after yet another sleepless night (she was four months by now!) was NOM projectile vomiting all over our bed – cue me in tears just at the end of my tether in being covered in sick all the time with a baby that comfort feeds all day and night and just won’t sleep or settle. My exhaustion made me take no for an answer and after a conversation with the doctor over the phone, she finally agreed to a hospital referral that same day!
Off we went to the paediatric assessment ward where I was to be observed breast feeding and NOM was assessed physically. There they observed her being sick all over the floor as well as the clear liquid she regularly brought back up with congealed milk in it, normally hours after a feed. They agreed that she needed medication and put her on domperidone (a medicine to tighten the stomach muscles to help keeps feeds from coming back up) and ranitidine (a liquid antacid to help reduce the pain and discomfort of the stomach acid she was bringing back up long after a feed which was causing her so much pain).
It did take a few days to see any results but NOM seemed a bit more settled, especially with the ranitidine. We also propped her mattress up with a rolled up towel so that she was never lay completely flat which helped reduce the feeds coming back up when she was sleeping. We also kept her upright as much as we could after feeds and tried to limit the amount of time she was lay on her back. Also, the one thing that I really didn’t want to introduce was a dummy but if it soothed her symptoms then that’s what we were to do.
Our next issue was that as NOM began to put on more weight, her medication amounts needed to reflect this and my doctor was reluctant to do this, and getting another paediatrician appointment in the meantime was useless. So at the 6 month mark, we started weaning onto solids and once this was established, NOM never looked back. She was able to keep her food down, she put on weight quicker and finally, at 8 months old, she was sleeping in longer stretches (4 hours which was good for us)! She was released from the paediatrician at 9 months as her symptoms had alleviated so much that she no longer needed medication – NOM’s answer was weaning and to this day she loves her food and has caught up weight wise.
I hate to admit it but those first 6 months were hard. Although I loved NOM to bits, the constant upset, lack of sleep and general worry of her slow weight gain (she was 13.5lb at 6 months) made them much less enjoyable. I still believe that if I had been taken seriously much sooner, then I wouldn’t have found those first 6 months so hard. This time round, if little man expresses any signs of reflux then I will be seeking advice straight away and will not be made to reel like a neurotic mum like I did with NOM……