Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Awfulness of Reflux in Babies - Part Four

So, now that I've shared our story of J's reflux I thought it would be a good idea to put together a post with my top tips for dealing with  it. Obviously I am not a doctor, these are just tips that worked with us and J's reflux:

1) Prop up your crib with blocks/books or use a wedge pillow under the mattress combined with a sleep positioner. Now that Josh is medicated, we decided to try and take away the wedge pillow and sleep positioner as we didn't think he would need them. This was a big mistake, within minutes he was starting to arch his back in pain. They really do make a huge difference.

2) Keep your baby sitting upright for at least 30 minutes after each feed. Longer if you can (i.e. if it's not the middle of the night). I also keep J upright as much as possible during the day. The Rock n Play I mentioned in this post is just great for giving me a break so he's not in my arms. Another option is to get a sling and carry the baby around that way during the day. I'm a fan of babywearing and have a Moby wrap that I use to carry J.

3) If you can get them to use a dummy/soother/dodie/pacifier - whatever you want to call them do it! I know some parents are against them but it is now actually recommended that they are used to help prevent SIDS. They are a great help for refluxy (and also colicky) babies to encourage them to swallow. It is also a great comfort. Luckily J loves his, I don't know what we'd do without it. Refluxy babies often gag themselves with their own fists (which J loves doing) and I'd much prefer he used a sterilised dummy if he needs the comfort.

4) Small feeds more often seem to work better. As J is pretty much exclusively breastfed and I feed on demand this can be hard to control but often refluxy babies feed more often naturally as the milk soothes their poor burned throats.

5) There is a lot of advice online about foods to avoid, most of it conflicting, in my opinion. Dairy and chocolate feature heavily though. I just couldn't face giving these up though, after being so sick during pregnancy it is heaven to be able to eat normally again. I did give up spicy foods though as that was a definite aggravator. If you have more self control than I do this could be an option for you if you are breastfeeding. I know of a mother whose baby has terrible reflux and unlike J, vomits regularly. She gave up dairy and said it made a huge difference to her baby. I could actually physically see the difference in her baby from one week to the next so it can work if your baby is slightly lactose intolerant.

If you are formula feeding try one of the specific formulas for reflux like Aptamil Reflux or SMA Staydown. Some refluxy babies are also lactose intolerant so changing your formula could be a good idea if you suspect this to be the case. Nutramigen seems to be a popular choice but of course, discuss with your GP first.

6) Seek help - there is nothing wrong with giving your baby medicine. I have heard more than once, both online and in real life women who smugly lecture me that all babies have reflux and doctors hand out prescriptions like they're sweets and you should try natural remedies. These are the women I want to punch in the face, repeatedly. It's fine if you don't want to medicate your baby, but a) in my opinion if they were as bad as J was or other babies are then you would have done anything to make them feel better, your baby probably wasn't that bad and b)how dare you be so judgemental, I'm doing the best I can and if the medicine will stop my baby's pain then he's getting it. No mother is going to jump straight to giving their baby prescription drugs without trying other things first. The reflux has been my first experience with the "judgy mummy" and I'm sure it won't be my last.

7) Play around with dosages if you need to (under your GP's supervision). Babies are different and even though there are guidelines for mg per kg of weight it seems different doses work for different babies.

8) Some medical proffessionals advise to wean onto solids as early as possible, but I have also received advice that it is not a good idea. To be frank, I have no idea. J is only 14 weeks old so too young for solids. I'm inclined to wait until as close to 6 months as possible but I really think it is up to the parents who know their babies best. I know a mother who started her son on solids at 3 and a half months due to reflux and swears by it. I'm going to see how we go. It is something to think about though if you have a refluxy baby.

9) Finally, be good to yourself.. I found the lack of sleep so difficult but luckily I have a supportive husband and we worked out a routine where he helped more at night, even though he had to be up for work. I also have a fantastic Mum who came over almost every day so I could have a lie-down while she watched J. Take care of yourself, eat well and try and sleep when you can. It's hard to see your baby in distress but remember it does get better and you are not alone, it really is a very common problem and there are things you can do to help.

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If anyone is out there I would love to hear any thoughts you have after reading this blog!