What is reflux?!
Reflux is a backflow of stomach contents up the oesophagus (food pipe) including stomach acid.The most common cause of reflux in babies is an underdeveloped weak group of circular muscle fibres in the last few centimetres of the oesophagus leading into the stomach (called the Oesophageal Sphincter).It is this sphincter that allows food into the stomach and usually stops food flowing back up.
Often in a new baby when their small tummy is very full, stomach contents can be pushed back up through the oesophagus causing a baby to vomit. Some babies are naturally more “sick’ than others. Even a little amount of sick thrown across your back can look like a lot!
- How do I know if my baby has reflux?
The symptoms of reflux can vary, which is another reason why it’s so important to see a professional for a definite diagnosis. Reflux symptoms can look like some or all of the following symptoms:
- Baby pulling away during feeding and back arching
- Screaming/irritability after each feed
- Vomiting and positing
- Coughing after feeding
- Poor sleep and naps
- Not gaining weight or losing weight
- Recurrent ear and sinus infections
- Recurrent chest infections
What can we do?
When reflux is mild, there are some practical things you can do to make your baby more comfortable:
- Try to feed baby in an upright position.
- Don’t lay baby down immediately after feeding, try to keep her upright for 20 minutes after feeding (placing over the shoulder or an upright cuddle is a great way to do this).
- Avoid clothing which is tight around the waist, placing pressure on the stomach.
- Offer baby smaller more regular feeds, this allows the tummy to empty keeping baby more comfortable.
- Don’t place baby in a jumper or play a lot of bouncy games.
- Only offer Tummy time when the tummy is empty (in between feeds).
When to Seek medical advice?
If you suspect that your baby has reflux or are concerned seek professional help and advice. Trust your instincts. Get the support you need -watching your baby struggle is torture and it doesn’t mean that you are doing something wrong! There are many practical solutions.
Seek urgent medical advice if you notice any of the following:
- Blood in baby’s saliva/vomit
- Baby constantly pulls away and appears to be in pain during the feed
- Baby consistently vomits after each feed
- Baby has a temperature
- Baby is losing or not gaining weight
- Baby is screaming after each feed
- Baby coughs persistently after each feed
- Follow your instincts
The good news is, most babies outgrow reflux before their first birthday, with many suffering from the condition for the first few months only. However reflux can be a symptom of a food allergy/intolerance which will need specialist medical support.
Reflux can respond very well to the following treatments:
- Cranial osteopathy
- Baby massage
- Change of formula – depending on symptoms (medical advice required)
- Medication (medical advice required)
Don’t struggle on – its ok to get help.