“My pediatrician says my baby has reflux! She says there are medications to help. I really don’t want my baby to take medicine. He’s so little. But I also don’t want him to suffer and spit up so much. What should I do? Can you help me?”
Although the diagnosis of reflux seems ominous, keep in mind that all babies have reflux to some degree. The sphincter muscle that separates the stomach and the esophagus is loose and lets fluids go back and forth. That’s why it’s common for babies to spit up after a meal. If your baby seems uncomfortable, however, he may need some help.
I see many babies diagnosed with reflux in my practice. I have found that some simple changes in feeding posture or management can decrease symptoms substantially. Most of my clients do not need to medicate their babies.
If your baby is squirmy, uncomfortable and excessively “spitty” during or after feeds, he may simply be eating too much or too quickly. Do you have an over-abundant milk supply? Does your baby struggle to “keep up” when breastfeeding? Is he gaining weight rapidly?
- Give your baby frequent burping breaks.
- Position your baby at an incline so that his trunk is higher than his hips and his spine is straight. Try the Pollywog Nursing Positioner at www.pollywogbaby.com.
- Try breastfeeding lying down on your side with baby beside you.
- Try nursing in a “laid back” position, with baby lying across your chest.
If your baby has green, frothy or mucousy stools, he may be sensitive to something in your diet. Maternal dietary changes can sometimes make a big difference. In addition, many babies feel better with one breast per feeding rather than 2. This could change the ratio of lactose, protein and fat and could result in more comfortable feedings.
Finally, remember that digestion begins in the mouth with the swallow. If baby isn’t able to swallow correctly due to a tongue tie or another structural problem, it can lead to tummy discomfort–including reflux. If a tongue tie is not the problem (or even if it is!) body work for your baby can help immensely!
Be sure to check with your pediatrician or lactation consultant to ensure your baby is is gaining weight properly before making any changes to your feeding routine.
For assistance with breastfeeding management, contact Renee Beebe at www.second9months.com.
See also, Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk?
For more information on infant reflux, including helpful products, please see www.pollywogbaby.com.