It Happened to My Baby: Infant Reflux
My first two children were great eaters and rarely spit up. In fact, I hardly ever used any of the burp cloths for cleaning spit-up Instead, they were used as wash cloths during bath and mealtime. Needless to say, I didn't purchase any burp cloths for baby number three. My third child Ryker, who is now 5 months, was a completely different story.
Around three weeks of age, Ryker began to spit up at almost every feeding. He even spit up during the middle of a feeding, while being burped. At first, I just brushed it off as typical baby spit up. I even forgot to mention it to the pediatrician at Ryker's first month baby well appointment. As time went on, Ryker appeared to be more and more fussy during and after feedings. The volume of spit up had also increased. At this point, I did some research online and learned that a forceful letdown during nursing can led to excessive spit up. I also learned that food sensitivities can lead to symptoms of reflux.
According to the Mayo Clinic, approximately one half of babies under three months experience infant acid reflux.
Reflux in an infant is caused from an immature lower esophageal sphincter, which acts as a valve between the esophagus (food pipe) and the stomach. Infant reflux is most often normal and your baby will begin to outgrow it around 6 to 9 months, when they start sitting up.
The most common symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) in infants are persistent vomiting, a chronic cough, choking/gagging, poor growth, breathing problems, and recurrent pneumonia. Babies with one or more of these symptoms may require behavioral or medication interventions to decrease the incidence of spitting up and help with weight gain.
After speaking with a lactation consultant about my concerns in relationship to nursing and reflux, I implemented a plan to change one behavior at a time, to see if I noticed any decrease in spitting up. First I altered my nursing habits, pumping for a few minutes before starting to nurse to eliminate a forceful let down. Prior to doing this, Ryker would frequently choke a couple of minutes into nursing. I immediately noticed that he no longer had incidences of choking when I pumped before putting him to breast.
About a week later, I started to eliminate foods from my diet. Since cows' milk products are often a food that babies have an intolerance to, I cut this out first. I also started a food journal, detailing the foods I ate and Ryker's general disposition after nursing sessions. In general, if a baby has a food intolerance symptoms should improve between 2 to 6 weeks. Four weeks into this self imposed elimination diet, Ryker was still vomiting after almost every nursing session, so I made an appointment with my pediatrician to address my concerns.
In order to provide the pediatrician with the most accurate information, I brought my food journal with me to the appointment. He briefly looked the journal over and listened to my concerns. He then weighed and examined Ryker. Thankfully Ryker was not losing weight, although he was gaining rather slowly. My pediatrician felt that my baby boy was showing mild signs of gastroesophageal reflux. We then discussed a course of treatment, which first included behavioral interventions.
At this point, we are two months past our initial appointment with the pediatrician and have a follow up in a few weeks. Ryker is much happier after nursing, sleeping better, and appears to be gaining weight. He also is becoming stronger and working on sitting up with support. I am happy that he is doing much better with his feedings and am looking forward to hearing what the pediatrician says.
Over the past few months I have learned that no matter how many children you have, each one is different, even as babies. I have also learned that it's okay to feel scared. There are many great professionals that care about children's health that are available to help you and your baby be as healthy as possible.
Does your baby have any feeding problems?