How to support parents with a reflux baby.
How to support the Mum of a reflux baby
Gastro-oesophageal reflux, most commonly referred to as reflux is a condition that causes the contents of babies tummy to come up and occasionally spill out, the acid that is brought up burns babies oesophagus and causes a great deal of distress.
These wee babes suffer serious pain and discomfort which can result in hours of inconsolable screaming. There is no questions that the life of a reflux baby is hard but what about the life of a reflux Mum?
I asked a group of Mums what they wanted their friends and family to know about life with a reflux baby and was told repeatedly that they felt like people just didn’t understand what they were going through unless they had experienced reflux themselves.
So how can we support families living with reflux?
While helping with housework and cooking dinner is great when you have new baby when it comes to reflux babies put down the washing and take the baby instead. Giving Mum and Dad time out to cook dinner gives them a much needed break from what can feel like endless holding/rocking/shushing. Bonus points for taking baby out for a walk and giving the family a few moments of silence.
When it comes to reflux babies the crying can feel endless, listening to hours of screaming is physically and emotionally draining so when baby begins to grizzle these Mums can immediately feel anxious, by giving her some quiet time you can ease her stress and help her cope with any further crying after you leave. One Mum recalls “Oh what I would have done for a night without a baby on my chest”. Taking baby, even if for just a few minutes means Mum can catch her breath, which is the best gift you can give her.
For many Mum’s reflux means numerous trips to specialists and dietitans, juggling these appointments can be exhausting and parents end up leaving with so much information to try and process. Although they know it is well meaning, try not offer more advice, tips or tricks, chances are they have already tried it!
By telling them what to do you can unintentionally make them feel incompetent and add to their feelings of guilt and blame. Instead tell them how amazing they are doing and remind them how much their baby loves them. Watch my settling video for reflux babies HERE.
Lastly, for other mums in this situation, “it’s ok to cry over spilled milk!!! God knows I’ve cried a million times”
When Stacey’s youngest son Ollie was 3 weeks old she realised something wasn’t quite right. Every time he burped, spit up or lay flat he would scream. But this was no ordinary scream…
I am talking ear piercing one hour screaming. He was always wanting to feed, which was draining me physically, mentally and emotionally. I have an older daughter who at the age of 9 weeks slept 7pm-7am, had no reflux and was a happy cruisy content baby.
One evening while I was up with my son for hours on end, I turned to google and typed “why does my new born scream when he spews, burps and lies down”, this is when I learnt about reflux! Reading all this information was overwhelming for a sleep deprived Mum. A phone call to my midwife the next day was the first thing on my list. She told me it could either be a growth spurt or reflux and to call her back if it was no better in a couple of days. With no improvement later that week I called again and infant gaviscon was the recommendation and so STRAIGHT to the chemist I went.
There was a slight improvement but by this stage my son Ollie was 5 weeks old. At his 6 week immunisations I raised my concerns with the doctor who confirmed my suspicions, and onto Losec we went. More information on Losec and reflux HERE.
I was told that I would have to give up breastfeeding and that my milk was too rich but I was determined to continue breastfeeding so I cut certain foods out of my diet like cheese.
Ollie’s sleeping patterns were crazy, half hour cat naps during the day and disrupted night wake ups. My body went into auto pilot as sleep deprivation kicked in, I was so overwhelmed. I cried…a lot and still do at times when Ollie spews. I had to learn that my housework wasn’t a priority, a sleeping baby and dinner preparation became my priority. In the early weeks people would say “oh I know how you feel” and in the next sentence they would say “Im lucky my kids never had reflux”, this was frustrating because they clearly didn’t understand!
Ollie is now nearly 13 weeks old and while the screaming has lessened the spilling still happens. I keep telling myself this is only temporary, that things will get better, but I don’t know when.
My advice to any Mum with a reflux baby is this, if someone offers to bring dinner –take it! Also swaddling and loud white noise can be a lifesaver.
But most importantly you are allowed to cry, you are allowed to feel angry, you are allowed to hold your baby while they sleep instead of vacuuming, and you are allowed to say no to visitors. Remember it is only temporary, I can’t say when it will get better because I honestly don’t know but I do know how you feel.
From one reflux Mum to another xx
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