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Reflux be gone!

Oscar StoneIt’s 2 am, you’ve had very little sleep for a few days or even weeks….

In your tired arms you have a screaming, rigid-bodied baby that simply will not settle.

You’ve tried everything, singing, talking, walking, the big butt song (is that only me?) and yet nothing will pacify this little new life who is screaming louder than you thought a tiny baby could scream.

Have you thought – your baby might be suffering from reflux?

Sadly, like his older sister Betsy, Oscar developed reflux after only a week of life.

Knees raised, fists clenched, hours of crying- (oscar- not me!) I knew these familiar symptoms and took a sigh of ‘oh here we go again’ as I paced the room talking and singing and watching the hours pass by…

Reflux is the name given when a baby regurgitates the contents of his stomach back into the oesophagus, or mouth.

Some babies won’t seem bothered by the condition, while for others, the stomach acid will burn their throat and make them uncomfortable, and unsettled, and for some babies, it can cause weight loss and a ‘failure to thrive.’

Babies have a tendency to reflux because:

  1. Babies have small stomachs.
  2. Babies spend a lot of their time in a lying position.
  3. Babies are fed mostly a fluid diet. (Milk can easily come up, particularly with a burp.)
  4. Handling, such as diaper changing and bouncing can increase the pressure on a baby’s full tummy, which then increases the risk of spitting up.

What happens?

Food is supposed to travel in one direction through your body, down the oesophagus, into the stomach and through the bowel. But in a child who suffers with reflux, there is a weakness in the band of muscles in the lower oesophagus. These join the stomach, acting as a valve. If this valve doesn’t shut properly, milk can travel back up, resulting in your baby vomiting (active reflux) or having a heartburn type of sensation,(silent reflux.)

What are the symptoms?

If your baby has reflux, you might notice that they regurgitate a little milk after feeding.

It can also cause discomfort in their oesophagus and make them cough a little.

Don’t worry, as long as your baby is otherwise well and healthy, they’ll be fine. You just need to keep a cloth or tissue handy for catching their milk ‘possets.’

In some cases, where reflux symptoms are bad, you might want to speak to your midwife or health visitor about treatment.

Symptoms include:

  • Reflux is happening more than five times a day on a regular basis.
  • Your baby cries excessively after feeds.
  • Your baby vomits regularly.
  • Coughing becomes a regular occurrence.

How do you treat Reflux?

Try feeding your baby in an upright position or holding them for 20 minutes after feeds and trying smaller but more frequent feeds first.

Raise the head end of your baby’s cot/crib slightly to aid sleep.

the doctor may prescribe infant Gaviscon or in extreme cases Ranitidine.

Infant Gaviscon works by mixing with the stomach contents, stabilising and thickening them to reduce the amount of reflux occurring. It is produced in a powder form and comes in one-dose sachets.

Ranitidine works by reducing the amount of stomach acid produced and thus prevents reflux causing inflammation in the oesophagus, and also allows existing inflammation to heal. It does not decrease the amount of spilling or vomiting. It may take from a few days to a few weeks to see an improvement in your baby/child after starting Ranitidine.

Although Ranitidine syrup contains ethanol (alcohol) and was not formulated for paediatric use, it has however been used successfully in the treatment of reflux in children for many years.

While the infant Gaviscon worked for Betsy, it did’nt even touch the edges of pain for Oscar, and this week he was put on Ranitidine.

In only 24 hours I’ve noticed a difference, and little man has gone from unhappy chappy to contented little nappy, and Im hoping it lasts.

Luckily for us, Betsy ‘grew’ out of her reflux when she was 4 months old and was gradually weaned off the Gaviscon, (reflux gradually improves with time as a baby’s digestive system matures.)

For most babies spitting up has decreased remarkably by the age of 5 or 6 months and disappears completely by the age of 12 months, but in severe cases it may persist for up to 18 months.

If you think your baby might be suffering with reflux, talk to your Health visitor or G.P as soon as you can. Don’t wait or worry you might be wrong, it’s better to get these things checked sooner rather than later.

If your baby is diagnosed with reflux, try not to worry. You’re not alone in your suffering! As many as 1 in 3 babies suffer with some form of reflux in the early days. so when you’re pacing the room at night with your little bundle crying, just think to yourself- ‘it’ll get better soon, and there’s a million other parents pacing the room tonight too!’

For those friends fans with an appreciation of  ‘the big butt’ song…. this is for you!



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