Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Infant Acid Reflux

"Does your baby seem to spit up a lot? Grab your burp cloth and join the group! Infant acid reflux, more accurately known as gastroesophageal reflux, is a common problem. In fact, more than half of all babies experience infant acid reflux during the first three months after birth, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

Although infant acid reflux is most likely after a feeding, it can happen anytime your baby coughs, cries or strains. And it's probably tougher on you than on your baby. Even when soaked in spit up, most babies who have infant acid reflux are healthy and content.

Infant acid reflux typically resolves on its own by ages 12 to 18 months. In the meantime, changes in feeding technique — such as smaller, more frequent feedings, changing position or interrupting feedings to burp — can help keep reflux under control. In a few cases, medication or other treatments may be recommended."  This is directly from the Mayo Clinic website.

I added the emphasis at the end.  That is the part that I want to talk about.

During my 3rd pregnancy I had an ultrasound at 14 weeks that found a subchorionic bleed.  The Dr. said that they are fairly common and not to worry about it.  He said that they usually resolve themselves on their own and are not a problem.  So I didn't worry about it.  2 weeks later I started to have mild contractions (I contracted early with my first 2 pregnancies also and it wasn't an issue).  I continued to contract several times a week, but not regularly for the next several weeks.  The Dr. didn't seem worried, so neither was I.

Six weeks later I had my 20 week ultrasound to see how the baby was doing and to check on the bleed.  The baby was fine, but the bleed didn't resolve itself.  The ultrasound tech said that I had an abruption and that she could see the contractions I was having during the ultrasound.  She also confirmed that they were "real" contractions.  When I met with the Dr. he asked me all sorts of questions about my contractions, if I was having any cramping, or sharp pains, or spotting/bleeding.  He wanted me to document the contractions to see if they were random, had some sort of rhythm to them or if they were caused by certain activities.  To make a long story short, I ended up on partial bed rest for the last three months of my pregnancy and my daughter was born at 38 weeks.

I noticed in the hospital that she was spitting up which I thought was odd.  I was nursing her and I knew that my milk had not come in yet, so I wondered how she could be spitting up when there wasn't much there to spit up.  The nurse told me it was normal and not to worry about it.  When we went home, it just got worse.  I took her back to the Dr. several times those first few weeks because I knew something wasn't right, and I didn't know what to do about it.

The Dr. suggested that I cut out foods that commonly cause issues for new babies...but I was already doing that.  Then she suggested I cut out all dairy for six weeks.  I did that and it did not make a difference.  The Dr. finally put B on Zantac.  Within about a week and a half, she was a different baby!  She still threw up regularly, but she wasn't crying all the time.  She started sleeping better and she was finally happy!  By the time she was nine months old, she was completely off her medicine and totally fine.

Now, fast forward to my 4th pregnancy.  I had complications with this one as well.  The worst of which was problems with my heart.  I also had early contractions, but they weren't as bad as they were with B.  By the time I was eight months pregnant, I was having "episodes" with my heart several times a week and it was affecting my ability to function properly.  All of my children have had shoulder dystocia births (which is where they get stuck in the birth canal...two of them broke a collarbone).  These deliveries are high risk.  So, C was born at 36 weeks.  He was in the NICU for a week and then he was able to come home.  He was born on a Monday and they didn't let me feed him until Thursday (don't worry, he was on IV's).  Even though there was nothing in his stomach, he was spitting up quite a bit.  I instantly suspected reflux.

When he came home, he always ate like a champ.  Then he would cry and throw up a TON then he would cry some more and then he would be hungry again.  It was a never ending cycle of crying, eating, crying, puking, crying...Sometimes I joined him in the crying part because we were both exhausted and miserable.  The Dr. started him on Zantac and I was so excited.  I assumed it would help him as much as it helped B...even though his was way worse.  I didn't really see much difference.  He was also put on Reglan and something else that I can't remember.  They x-rayed his stomach to check for pyloric stenosis and thankfully he did not have it.  Nothing seemed to be helping very much.

We had already elevated the head of his bed and kept him propped up after each feeding.  I was feeding him less, but more often...we did everything.  Finally the Dr. decided to put him on Prevacid.  It made his hair fall out in chunks!  I was horrified and stopped it immediately.  The Dr. said that that isn't one of the side effects listed by the manufacturer, but it happened when he was on the medicine and stopped when he stopped it.  If you look it up in Google, it is also a side effect that some people do experience.

By this point, we were desperate!  We went to a pediatric gastroenterologist and he put us back on Zantac and added Mylanta Supreme.  Wonder of wonders, that combination worked!  From that day, I noticed big changes in C's temperament.  He still threw up, but as long as we kept him upright for at least 30 minutes after each feeding, he was a happy baby!!!

It took a lot of experimenting, but we were able to figure out that he couldn't just be propped up a bit after feedings.  He literally needed to be vertical or he didn't do very well.  This was a bit of a challenge because I had three other young children to take care of too.  Sometimes I couldn't hold him when he needed it.  I had a baby carrier that I could put him in, but it was not very comfortable for either of us.  He was a pretty chunky baby (another sign of reflux) and so he was heavy!  I did a ton of research to try and find another carrier that I could use with him for extended periods of time that would not hurt my back.  That's when I found the mei tai carrier.  These are Asian style carriers where you literally tie your baby to your body.  They become a part of you.  I also found that they are pretty expensive.  I looked at several different styles and picked out my favorite parts of them.  Then I combined everything I liked and made my own.  It is what saved both of us during those really hard months.  He didn't outgrow the reflux until right around his 1st birthday.  He still has an easy gag reflex, but he is just fine.

I'm working on some carriers to offer in my store.  Check back soon to see them and to see how to wear them.  Thanks!

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