There is no two ways about it, reflux sucks. Life with a newborn is hard enough without that tiny little bundle of joy howling in pain 24/7 and projectile vomiting all down your front, back and all over the couch 38 times a day.
I have spoken to so many new Mums and bubs lately who are suffering through reflux so I thought it was about time I shared our story.
Mr 4’s introduction to the world was generally a little rough. I had a long, tough labor followed by a massive hemorrhage which meant my milk didn’t come in until about day 7. I was very determined to breastfeed so he started on a combination of breast feeding , bottle on formula feeding. For a couple of weeks this meant that every health nurse and doctor was able to put his endless screaming down to colic from mixed feeding and hunger. He literally never stopped screaming until he had exhausted himself enough to sleep for a half hour or so but then he would wake up in pain and start screaming again. Funnily enough he was quite a quiet baby, and by that I mean his scream was quiet but we now know that that was actually because the acid reflux burnt the back of his esophagus so bad he wasn’t able to cry loudly.
For the first couple of months of his life my husband and I barely slept a wink. We would tag team marching around the house with a baby carrier on so the other could get some rest and then when he went to walk I would spend most of day walking around the block, pinned underneath him on the couch or carrying him around because as soon as I would put him down he would start crying again and frankly I was so tired I would do anything for a bit of rest even if it meant trying to catch a few z’s whilst I held him in one arm and I expressed milk with the other.
It wasn’t until I started Mothers Group that I really started to realize things just weren’t quite right. I remember carrying my beautiful screaming little bundle into a room filled with fresh looking Mums and delightfully gurgly babies and listening to (some of) them talk about how their babies started sleeping through at 6 weeks and thinking “sleeping through! my little guy only sleeps for 40 min at a time”. One of the Mum there who has now become one of my closest friends caught up with me afterwards to tell me how she had just had her daughter put on medication for her reflux and that she thought maybe I should take my son to a GP to ask if they thought he might have it too.
I did. We started giving him a prescription medication at about 6 weeks. 2 weeks later I walked into that Mothers Group and one of the Mums commented that it was the first time they hadn’t seen Mr 4 crying. The medication made a big difference but it didn’t completely solve the problem, he still seemed to be in a lot of pain but for the first time he could drink more then 20ml at a time and he was able to spend more time on his tummy and doing all the things that little babies enjoy.
Our reflux journey didn’t stop their though. When we had Mr 2 he also started showing signs of reflux straight away. Luckily this time I knew to ask and the Paedeatrician noted a strong family history (with both myself and my entire extended family) and put him on medication straight away. That combined with a few other techniques we had learnt with out first son meant things went much smoother.
Oh and you know that Mum I told you about, she and I spent almost every day together for the first year of our first babies life, we were a massive support for each other and she is still one of my closest friends today.
So, here are the top 10 things that I think helped with our 2 boys reflux. (please be aware this is not medical advise just a few examples of things that helped us. Please make sure to speak to your child health nurse or GP if you think your baby has reflux.)
- Keeping bub upright as much as possible- laying either of our sons flat on their back meant an instant screaming session, so it didn’t take us long to figure out this is a no-no. We used to elevate their mattress’s with a foam wedge.
- Baby carrier- my ergo baby was my savior. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without it.
- Walk , walk and walk some more – besides the fact that babies love the motion getting out of my house and into the sun did wonders for my mental health. It also gave me the opportunity to stop and chat to people along the way and helped me feel connected to the outside world.
- Baby swing- both our babies used to sleep in them, they are the perfect upright position for a reflux bub.
- Dummies- everyone has an opinion about dummies but for us they helped a lot.
- Burp cloths and Bibs, your going to need hundred of them. I designed bamboo super bibs and jumbo contoured burp cloths directly as a result of our boys suffering reflux. Put simply if I didn’t want to change my clothes 30 times a day I needed something that offered maximum absorption and coverage. I couldn’t find it so I designed it 😉
- Medication- If you think your little bub is suffering from reflux , visit you GP or Paediatrician.
- Starting Solids- The one thing to remember about reflux is that it will get better eventually and with both of our boys staring solids was a real turning point. Make sure you ask your child health nurse this one.
- Double sheets- this is when you put a mattress protector on, then a sheet, then another mattress protector then a sheet.
- Co-sleeping- again this is controversial and definitely not SIDS approved but for us I think it was the right thing. Whilst I was never able to really sleep properly with the boys in the bed it meant I could pat or cuddle them to sleep without needing to get out of bed 20 times a night.
Reflux is different for everyone and everyone has to find their own solutions and ways of coping but for me these 10 things helped me get through each day. If you are out there now jiggling a reflux baby to sleep please know you are not alone and while it won’t seem like it now it will get better soon.