Bringing a newborn home from the hospital can be a very exciting, yet exhausting event. Throw baby reflux into the mix, and it can be downright stressful. When a small infant begins to cry inexplicably, with an arched back, and experiences a large amount of regurgitation, it can be overwhelming for parents. Fortunately, it is a phase that generally does not last forever. If you find yourself wondering whether your baby may be suffering from reflux, then there may be certain facts of which you should be aware, particularly if you are breastfeeding.
1. Symptoms vary from baby to baby.
The diagnosis of reflux does not fit neatly into one box. Oftentimes, it is guesswork. There are also varying degrees of baby reflux, from the very minor to the very severe. Some babies cry and scream, while others are termed “happy spitters.” The general consensus seems to be that the small flap just below the esophagus has not yet closed in some infants, so that the milk continues to “splash” into the baby’s throat, causing spit-up and pain. Some babies do not spit-up; rather, these children swallow the milk again. This is known as “silent reflux.” In short, reflux, sometimes incorrectly dubbed colic, has different symptoms for different children.
2. Reflux can damage the esophagus, but rarely.
With stomach acid continuing to enter a baby’s esophagus, many parents worry that their child will experience permanent damage. This is true for a few babies, but it is a rare phenomenon. If you speak with your doctor, she can give you guidance whether you should seek advice from a Gastroenterologist. Most babies outgrow baby reflux with no lasting effects. Some things to watch, however, are inconsolable crying, refusal to eat and/or poor weight gain.
3. Breast milk soothes and coats the baby’s throat.
Most experts agree that breast milk is usually best for refluxed babies. Statistics show that breastfed babies are less likely to experience reflux. The properties of mother’s milk contain nutrients that coat an infant’s inner linings, lessening a child’s pain as the acid splashes in the throat.
4. Eating smaller, more frequent meals can help baby.
Again, breast milk is a great option for your baby, if you are in a position to nurse. Consider offering only one side at a time and nursing every two hours instead of every three hours. Smaller meals can leave the stomach quickly, preventing more milk from re-entering the esophagus. Feeding your baby at an angle is also helpful as gravity helps keep the digestive process from splashing upward. Breastfeeding is particularly helpful for feeding at an angle.
5. Osteopathic manipulation can sometimes re-align baby.
Some doctors believe the birth process can be a traumatic experience for infants, causing internal damage to babies not visible or immediately known. With osteopathic manipulation, licensed physicians use massage and cranial manipulation to gently realign a baby’s skeletal frame. This has been helpful for some infants who suffer from baby reflux. If you believe your child may be dealing with reflux, contact your local doctor for professional advice.