Some of these factors include:
-Lack of oesophageal control ie. Relaxation at the incorrect time.
-Abdominal pressure increasing due to crying, coughing, overfeeding, slouching, straining or sitting after feeds.
-Conditions which cause the muscles or nerves to abnormally function.
-Genetics or hereditary factors.
Most children will outgrow the problem but while it occurs it can be successfully controlled by simple solutions such as baby probiotics, medications prescribed by a medical professional, thickening the feeds, keeping the bub upright and of course reassuring oneself that it is a common problem.
If the problem persists, despite the lifestyle changes medical intervention is sometimes necessary which involves testing and treatment based on the findings- consult you GP or paediatrician.
So what are the symptoms and signs of Reflux?
Usually a baby will not display all of these signs and it is important to note that the number of symptoms do not indicate the severity of the condition. Another note: the signs and symptoms in this list can also be due to other causes so do not assume that the only cause is reflux and seek advice from a health practitioner.
1. Feeding problems: arching of the back, refusing to feed despite being hungry, crying after or during a feed or even feeding frequently
2. Hiccupping repeatedly
3. Crying, screaming or general irritability
4. Sleeping problems: frequent waking, easily disturbed sleep or difficulty settling
5. Nasal congestion or recurrent upper respiratory infections
6. Possetting/vomiting or choking/gagging
7. Hoarse cry
8. Excessive salivation in the absence of teething
9. Weight gain/loss or slow growth
Tips for Managing Reflux
These are some strategies to help with the management of your child’s symptoms. If the symptoms persist or are severe, your doctor may suggest referral to a paediatrician or medication.
- Avoid overfeeding
- Try a probiotic for baby and Mum. This can help increase the good bacteria and settle the reflux (Bioceuticals makes a great one!)
- Feed bub in an upright position and following the feed try to keep them upright for at least 30 minutes. (Laying them flat may aggravate the problem at this time).
- Try to avoid bouncing your baby especially after a feed.
- Tight clothing especially around the waist is to be avoided. This includes nappies and waistbands.
- Before the feed, try and change nappies and have tummy time rather than after the feed.
- Sometimes there may be food sensitivities present. In this case consult a health practitioner before changing your child’s diet or mum may consider an elimination diet for herself.
- Use of a dummy can sometimes help settle the baby.
- Some food and drink cause more irritation and increase aciditiy. These are to be minimised eg caffeine, spicy foods, citrus, tomato for Mum and bub.
- It is still important to follow safe sleeping guidelines.
- Thickened feeds are effective in some cases where vomiting is a common symptom. Discuss with your health practitioner how to introduce thickeners.
Here are a few survival tips:
-There is no right or wrong way to deal with the problem. Each child is different and therefore often treating the problem will include some trial and error.
-Do not be too hard on yourself. Try and focus on what you are doing right because often it is just not having worked out the best answer for the problem yet.
-Realise that most people will not understand but find a support group that have had to deal with similar episodes in order to share ideas and not feel alone in this – you aren’t alone!
-Trust your instincts- reflux is a medical condition and is not in your mind. Often my clients tell me they were worried that the screaming is just the way their baby is.
-Reflux can be triggered by various factors such as humidity, colds, teething, routine changes, tiredness.
-Look after yourself. It is easy to forget about your wellbeing while dealing with sleeplessness. You are better equipped to find solutions when you are rested.
Adapted from articles from ICPA