The first four months of Huxley’s life were pretty hard for reasons I spoke about in ‘Our Breastfeeding Journey’. Looking back I realise that at the time we were just in the moment as newborn days are hard whatever’s going on, there’s always something new thrown into the mix for nearly every mum. For us the breastfeeding was a struggle but at 3 weeks we were also thrown the reflux card. Or so we thought. So I want to explain why we didn’t go down the reflux medication route and why it may have been just as well.
I should probably give you a bit of background info that will explain that while I would never deny my children medication should they be very ill, I would always try an alternative route first. My mum (sorry Mum!!!) will remember an argument we once had (which I fondly refer to as Calpol-gate) about me not giving Rory Calpol for his cough. People may think I’m being ridiculous- but how many of you swear by Nelsons teething granules? Well here’s a secret, they are in fact camomilla, a homeopathic remedy. Of course, a high temperature does scare me and can be dangerous for babies in which case out comes the Calpol/Nurofen. Yes our bodies burn up to fight infection but I, like most mamas do not want to watch my baby suffer so no, Calpol won’t cure it but will numb it for them temporarily.
Anyway, you get my drift. If you’re reading my blog you may already be on the same thought path. At 3 weeks Huxley began bringing up his milk after every feed. It freaked the hell out of me. The main part of your job at this point is, ‘feed your baby, keep him alive’. So for him to be throwing up every feed after already having breastfeeding struggles and slow weight gain I was sure that I was going to fail at the first hurdle. Every time he was sick for the first 24 hours I dutifully and irrationally cried my eyes out. The next day I took him to the walk in centre where a vague ‘diagnosis’ of reflux/infantile colic was given along with a prescription of infant Gaviscon. Unfortunately this doctors unconfident diagnosis was skeptical enough for me to hold off giving the medication before doing my own research.
Those of you that have suffered a reflux baby will be familiar with the usual textbook procedure. Keep your baby upright for half an hour after EVERY feed, (at 11pm, 12am, 3am, 5am & 8am this is nothing short of horrific), possibly (wrongly) have been told to try gripe water or infacol, feeding smaller amounts more often, the list goes on. You might ask why we didn’t do the Gaviscon. I had done my research and had also joined a reflux group and this is what I observed. Every baby on this group started on Gaviscon, most got constipated, then when Gaviscon didn’t work they were given Ranitidine, when the dosages of that had been maxed they were also given Omeprozole. Then found out that most of the babies ‘grew’ out of it. Many breastfeeding mums had given up dairy (something I admit I should have tried harder with). The babies with very serious reflux problems were obviously very ill and I don’t profess to know what the answers were for them but I could see that mostly the medication alone was not really helping. I knew that I didn’t want to go down this downhill route for Hux and so we spent the next couple of months using probiotics, osteopathy, a hazlewood necklace (to absorb extra acid in the body), homeopathy and found that for me cutting chocolate and caffeine calmed the sickness down. Ok, so the ‘holistic back alignment’ lady told me to do so but who cares- it was working!
However as explained in ‘Our Breastfeeding journey’ we actually at 18 weeks were diagnosed with a tongue tie and found out this; symptoms of reflux are often the same as those for a tongue tie, your supply regulates at around 16 weeks and so the baby has to ‘work harder’ to get his milk and because of neck restriction often associated with tongue tie plus immobility of the tongue baby cannot get what he needs. Also that early latch problems, sore nipples, milk blisters, trapped wind, sickness (the list goes on) are also associated with tongue tie. I have since spoken to friends who had found out later that their child was tongue tied and suddenly it all makes sense- they didn’t latch, were sick all the time or started to have problems with feeding around 16 weeks.
I have to say that I do believe Hux may have had something else under lying- could’ve been reflux or cows milk intolerance (something we are still keeping an eye on) but there is no doubt that after a weekend vom fest at centre parcs a few months back (seriously Huxley vomited on every flat surface in Nottingham forest), I immediately cut out the chocolate again, put on the hazel wood beaded necklace and got the baby back on Nat Phos 6 after every feed and he was like a completely different baby in a couple of days!
Yet again, I was proud to follow my mothering instinct. Despite being told by the Dr at the walk in centre ‘no there’s no tongue tie. Why wouldn’t you have given him the Gaviscon’ I stuck to my guns. I am not saying that giving medication to your baby is the wrong thing. But I wish I had known what I now know instead of having such a tough first four months. I know that come month 5 as we came out of a sicky nightmare I wondered why we don’t know all of these little secrets that may help a distraught mama and baby. Why we are all so quickly urged to go down a medication route. It doesn’t make sense to me but I hope that if there’s someone out there reading this with similar problems, that they might find one of our remedies that help them or even have their baby checked for a tongue tie. No tongue tie would stop me telling you all this; If something doesn’t feel right for you or your baby, then it probably isn’t. Gaviscon did not feel like the right option for my baby and turns out it wasn’t.
Here are some alternative remedies you may fancy thinking about first if you feel the same as I did.
- Hazelwood. The lovely Laura at Bizzie Bee jewellery makes custom order amber necklaces and specialises in hazelwood which absorbs any extra acidity in the body. She herself has dealt with a reflux baby. She will also recommend other crystals if you’re having other problems.
- Nat phos 6x. One of these after each feed worked a treat. Its a pH balancer for all acidity problems but can also relieve gas, bloating and flatulence (common also for tongue tie so if you’re not sure it’s a win win situation)
- If you are breastfeeding you may want to try cutting dairy. However this IS a big deal in that it takes 4 weeks to leave your system. Also soya allergies are closely linked with dairy so you should really cut both. However I’m quite pro dairy free as long as you’re getting all your nutrition (and can physically not eat chocolate unlike me!)As I said this may have been a good thing for me to try harder with
- Caffeine definitely made a difference for me. I also cut chocolate so it could have been the caffeine in coffee and chocolate that affected my breastmilk most.
- Look into a good infant pro-biotic. So good for the digestive system in general. We used opti-bac to begin with which are pretty hard to administer to a newborn. Then found Biogaia which are drop form and so much less hassle.
- Try osteopathy. Find a good paediatric osteopath that specialises in reflux. For us it identified the neck strain which was closely linked to the tongue tie. It provided temporary relief until the tongue-tie was snipped
- Get a second, third, and fourth opinion on a potential tongue tie. It’s a VERY specialist area. As we were explained by someone, it would be easy to diagnose NO tongue-tie but very hard to diagnose a slight one.
Below is an interesting article you may want to read. Type into google infant gaviscon and you will be hard pushed to find anything other than information on dosages.