By MeOhMy Founder and Editor Siobhan (@meohmymum)
It never ceases to amaze me how much of a roller coaster this thing called motherhood can be.
One day, everything is going along amazingly well with your little one. They’re sleeping well, eating well, you’re on top of things and life is good.
The next, it’s chaos and you’re beside yourself.
One of the main things I’ve learned in the 18 months I’ve been a mum is that just when you think things are ‘sorted’ with your little one, things will change again before you know it.
Our baby girl Aoife is nearly four weeks old. From birth until she was three weeks old, things were perfect (after a brief stint in special care to begin with). Once we got her home she fed well, settled easily and slept well. By the third week I was only getting up to her once or twice in the night - winning!
But last Friday it all went to sh*t! She wasn’t settling well at all - what used to take a few minutes now took hours. She started bringing up a lot of cottage cheese-like stuff after feeds, was in a lot of discomfort and pain (screwing up her face constantly), was doing watery poos that smelt like acid and would not sleep anywhere except for upright on my chest.
Having not experienced anything like that with our first baby, Harry, I didn’t know what it was. I sought help from ol’ doctor Google (as you do!) and found that her symptoms were most likely reflux.
Now, whenever I’ve heard mums complaining about reflux before I haven’t really understood what they’ve meant. I, very naively, thought it was ‘just’ babies bringing up a bit of milk. Oh how wrong I was!
We’ve had five days now of constant whinging, crying, non-sleeping, vomiting and violent pooing (one particular poo-nami happened in the car seat en route to my son’s daycare, spreading out all over her seat and completely ruining her pretty outfit). Ugh. Mum life hey, it aint pretty! I smell like baby vomit constantly, the washing is overflowing the basket and the house is a mess. My toddler has watched a lot more of The Wiggles that I’d like! Mum guilt to the max.
However, we’ve sought medical help and thanks to some lovely fellow mums on Instagram I’ve had some great tips and advice from far and wide.
So, if it’s useful to other mums out there experiencing this, here are some things I’ve learned about reflux. A disclaimer of sorts: I’m definitely not an expert at all and am not trying to give ‘advice’, I’m simply relaying my experience, what I’ve found helpful and the tips I’ve collected from other mums who have gone through similar! (Note: I am exclusively breastfeeding Aoife):
Feed slower - in our experience, Aoife was most likely getting too much milk from me. So, I now feed her for a few minutes, then burp, then wait a few mintues. Then we repeat this a few times.
Feed from the same boob until it’s very empty - this is so she gets the fatty hindmilk at the end of the breast, which is denser and will stay down (rather than swapping boobs too early which means she’ll get a load of the really watery milk which will slosh around in her belly and be more likely to come up and down more). Watch you don’t get mastitis though, if you need to pump a tiny bit on the side you’re not using, just for comfort, then do it. Alternate sides each feed.
Burp all day, every day - literally! I've found putting Aoife up on my shoulder (with her tummy on my shoulder) is most effective. When she's flat, she's in pain. So many times I'll put her down to sleep and she's fine for 10 minutes, then starts to bring up milk, writh around and scream in agony. So, cue more burping and patting until more wind comes up, then she might be ok to go back down.
Baby carriers are saviours - if upright is where they're happiest, then baby carriers are the only thing that will allow you to get things done (and, in my case, get the toddler fed and changed!).
Watch what you’re eating - many women have told me their baby was more refluxy (because that’s totally a word, right?!) when they were eating dairy, caffeine and/or wheat. I’ve cut down on my dairy intake and it seems to be helping (but as we’ve changed a few other things too, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s working!). Please god don’t make me give up my coffee haha (I have it black anyway).
Natural before drugs - both the doctor and midwives I’ve seen have said to try natural and lifestyle remedies before resorting to medication, as she’s so young still, and I completely agree that using hardcore drugs right now is not ideal if we don’t need to. But, if what we’re trying doesn’t work and she gets worse, I’ll definitely be revisiting this. We've used some Infants Friend and Gripe Water, not sure if they're helping but they can't hurt (they are natural).
Tongue tie - does your baby have one that you don’t know about? From what I've heard, they can contribute to feeding problems and therefore reflux. Aoife had a tongue tie that was cut in the hospital, and I’ve had it reassessed just to make sure (they can grow back, who knew?!).
Reflux can be ignored by doctors and not treated seriously, but always trust your instinct. As a mum, you know if something isn't right - don’t let anyone tell you you’re imagining it!
Check out some of my recent posts on Instagram (@meohmymum) for more tips and tricks from the amazing mums that have given their advice (from both breastfeeding and formula-feeding perspectives). And thanks so much again to everyone who has offered advice, it's been so helpful! So good to know we're all in this together :)