Tips on Dealing with Babies suffering from G.O.R.D (Reflux)

After 6 months of working our way around Reflux in our son, we have discovered a few things that helped us manage the condition and its symptoms. I’m not an expert or a doctor, just a first time Mummy who has been soaked from puke more times than she can remember and who would like to pass on some tips to help anyone else muddling through the same situation. 
Background info:

Our Baby Teddy has suffered with Reflux since he was born. He arrived 5 weeks early, and had trouble breathing on his own at first, but was able to come home after 8 days in hospital. I fed him breast only for his first 5 weeks before switching to bottle feeding, first with breast milk and then with formula. He weighed 8lbs 5oz at birth and now weighs close to 23 lbs. 
Symptoms:

– Projectile vomiting. This would happen straight after every meal and continue up to 2 hours after feeding. 
– Hiccups. LOTS of hiccups.
– Gulping sounds during sleep which would then be followed by piercing screams and bottom lip quivers. 
– Insatiable hunger. Nursing at the breast or bottle constantly so that the milk would ease the burning in his throat.
– Slow gain in weight (only whilst breast feeding).
– Restless all the time, even writhing around and grunting during sleep. 
– Dislike of laying flat, preferring to be upright, on his front or carried. 

Tips:

– Elevate one end of baby’s cot/moses basket using books under the feet. We tried using pillows under the mattress but it didn’t feel like a comfortable incline for him to sleep on and he slipped around too much.  We even slept him in his bouncer for 8 weeks. Not advised by the medical profession but it was the only way we could get him comfortable and we just made sure to take turns on keeping an eye on him. 
– Swaddling him also helped, due to it keeping his arms and legs still which prevented him from jostling around and upsetting his tummy.
– Try to wind your baby gently. I found sitting my son on my lap, cupping him under his chin  and gently swirling him in a small circular motion with gentle taps and rubs on his back was far better for bringing up trapped air that flinging him over my shoulder or laying him face down across my lap. It reduced the pressure against his tummy and therefore a lot less milk was rejected. 
– Carry baby around and pass him/her around to other people as much as you possible can through out the day. This constant motion and jostling about breaks up the trapped wind in baby’s tummy, reducing colic symptoms and the likelihood of refluxing after feeding. Don’t worry about creating a clingy baby in the early stages. They need to be with you and feel the warmth of someone against them…. they’ve just spent 9 months inside a body, it’s a HUGE world and very daunting to face on top of constant tummy ache and being sick. 
– Be slow and gentle with baby. No forceful and sudden movements, no bouncing around after eating and, if they are willing, let them lay and stretch out after a meal. 
– Hold baby upright for at least 20 minutes after a feed. This was so testing for us, and a lot of patience was required, but it really did pay off. If you skip this step, its more than likely that they will just puke up as soon as you lay them down and then you’ll have increased your laundry load as well as have to start all over again so stick with it. During the early days, a feed would take around 1 – 1.5 hours because of this little step. Put the telly on or grab a book or your phone or just enjoy the cuddle time. On the rough nights when I really just wanted to sleep, I would remind myself that nothing lasts forever and I would miss those cuddly moments. Teddy is only 6 months but doesn’t really like to be held whilst feeding anymore and I already miss it!
– Don’t feel guilty for switching to formula. I did and I really shouldn’t have been so hard on myself. For us, personally, it was the best thing to do. We found Aptamil Reflux Formula, which is a thickened formula specifically for dealing with G.O.R.D and it revolutionised our feeding and sleeping routine. Breastmilk was just too watery for Teddy and seeing him suffer was too much to bear. I wrote about our feeding experiences in a series of 3 posts: Part 1Part 2 and Part 3, if you’d like to read more about that. 
– Muslins! I am a self confessed muslin addict. I literally panic if I don’t take at least 3 out of the house with us and they were great for shielding myself and my clothes from the constant stream of regurgitated milk. I was tempted to buy a rain coat at one stage but my other half informed me that was a little bit too extreme. 
– Get baby into tummy time. They might grumble and flail about, but a couple of minutes tummy time really made a difference for us. It helped strengthen Baby’s tummy valve and is recommended for new babies anyway in order to strengthen their necks and prevent them from getting a flat head. 
– Go and see your GP. Even if its just to cry on their shoulder and express all that pent up stress, worry and anxiety. Having them reassure you it will pass and is a very common thing in babies will help immediately. Then they will examine Baby for you, check that all is as it should be and then they can even prescribe things to help ease the symptoms. We tried Baby Gaviscon but unfortunately that caused constipation so we soon opted out of that but we were given a medicine called Ranitidine which neutralised Baby’s tummy acid so that when his milk did work it’s way back up his throat, it didn’t burn as much as it could have done. It meant a huge decrease in discomfort and tears (for all of us!) and despite it not tasting very nice, Baby took it from a syringe without any problems. 

I hope all of this has helped you in some way, even if it has proven to you that you are not alone in this, and that there are millions of other Mummy’s trying to soothe a crying baby whilst dreading the next feed. Don’t give up hope, don’t blame yourself and just take each hour as it comes. We have recently started weaning and it has made a HUGE difference to Teddy’s reflux, since food has more density than milk, and all the tummy time/attempts to roll over/kicking about is still helping things strengthen up as well. We tried to introduce regular formula a couple of weeks ago but unfortunately the reflux did come back with a vengeance and he was in a lot of discomfort so we went straight back to Anti Reflux again. A lot of the time it is trial and error… but hey, that’s just parenthood right?


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