The article is written by Jida Choura, a NomuKidz expert and the Middle East’s first and only Reflux Consultant
Every parent’s natural reaction when they think their baby is suffering from reflux is to go to the doctor. But the solution is not for sure. Silent reflux (no vomiting) or projectile vomiting is very stressful for both parents and babies. I am here to tell you: yes, it is common but it is not normal, you do not have to wait. Your baby does not need to stay suffering.
I personally went to so many doctors, and what I heard was:
“It is normal”
“All babies cry”
“He is gaining weight, he is fine”
“There is nothing we can do”
“Your baby will grow out of it”
About 40% of babies born suffer from this condition. However when dealing with baby reflux, doctors cannot do more than follow the guidelines: watch and wait, or medicate.
One doctor will say it’s colic, and will suggest waiting 3 months. Another will suggest introducing solids early. And a third doctor will say wait until the baby is 6 months old, and a lot of them will say there is nothing we can do. Meanwhile both baby and mom are barely surviving.
I get it, and I totally understand. I went through this too.
Here are 4 things that my doctors did not tell me:
1| It is a symptom
“It is not a disease”
This simple sentence changes everything. It makes parents realize that it is not an illness. Reflux being a symptom means that something is causing it.
Generally, this condition is an involuntary regurgitation and it’s called GERD when it is strong. It protects our digestive system, and prevents the air from going further down the digestive system and causing problems. It is something that our stomachs do. When we know what is causing it, we can make changes and stop it.
2| There is no such thing as a difficult baby
Read it again and believe it this time, there are no difficult or grumpy babies.
Doctors use the term colic when a baby cries for hours. It’s like the official definition when a baby is crying for 3 hours a day for at least 3 days a week. If your baby is crying for this long something is wrong.
Your baby could be overtired. Perhaps your little one needs a routine adjustment. Or maybe it is a reaction to something in their food/milk that’s causing discomfort. Digestive discomfort usually causes colic.
Babies have an immature digestive system. This means that they cannot digest everything they eat, whether it was food or milk. As they grow, their digestive system develops and this is why babies sometimes grow out of colic and reflux.
You might feel helpless if your baby is diagnosed with colic. However, this is the time we have to start observing and listening to what our babies are trying to tell us. There is always a reason behind your baby’s behavior.
3| 80% of the time medication does not solve reflux
The doctor prescribed my son medication (ranitidine) at 7 months old; since he was born he showed signs of silent reflux but no one believed me. When he started solids, things became much worse. My little boy would close his mouth shut at the sight of food, I had to feed him with a syringe since he wanted very watery food. He would arch his back and stop eating although clearly hungry. He woke up every hour and even projectile vomited twice all across the room. I could see the pain he was in.
That was when the doctor agreed that he had silent reflux and prescribed medication. It eased his pain and I do believe medication has a very important role when used in the right way, because sometimes the damage to the oesophagus is so severe that it is needed to let the oesophagus heal and protect it from the burning sensation that occurs when stomach acid goes back into to the oesophagus.
However, the medication does not resolve the underlying cause behind your baby’s reflux.
The instructions on these medications clearly state they should be taken for a short while, yet sometimes doctors prescribe them for a long time because they cannot actually tell you what is causing your baby’s reflux; they suppress the stomach’s acid, treating it like adult reflux and that could cause other issues.
Baby reflux is completely different from adult reflux; a baby’s stomach does neither over nor under produce stomach acid, except when getting on or off these medications.
My baby only got better when I addressed the actual cause behind their reflux.
4| All babies are born with a weak lower esophageal valve
Dcotors told me that my son had reflux because he has a weak lower oesophageal valve (the opening between the stomach and the oesophagus), the doctor said there was nothing we can do but wait until the valve ‘matures’. I felt helpless, and thought my baby could suffer for years.
This is not true. All babies are born with a weak valve, yet they do not all suffer from reflux. This shows that a weak valve is not the cause of reflux, or else all babies would reflux.
Babies are born with lower muscle strength in general, the lower oesophageal valve is a ring of muscle, and this applies here too. The weakness in the valve makes it easier for food and milk to come back up, however, this on it’s own is not the cause of reflux. Something is making the stomach’s contents come back up.
Finding the underlying cause behind baby’s reflux will resolve it and your baby can become better. Babies are different and there could be more than one thing causing their reflux. Some reasons could be inhaling too much air due to a wrong latch, a tongue-tie, being overtired, a wrong bottle teat or even a traumatic birth. Another cause of it could be something they are eating or mom is eating causing them intolerances /allergies. Each baby is different and I would need their full history to help resolve their reflux.
If you would like to get your baby reflux free. Please contact the author by visiting her profile found on NOMU KIDS website
About the author:
Jida Choura (Refluxmamma) is the first and only certified baby reflux consultant in the Middle East, she got certified because her son suffered with silent reflux and made it her goal to help mothers get their babies reflux free.