Reflux in Babies
In this blog I will ask why are babies being given drugs for reflux? What is reflux? What other avenues can parents consider before considering giving their baby a drug and why do I hope parents will not resort to drugs.
In the last year or so, it appears to me that more and more parents are worrying about their babies and whether or not they have reflux. Why is this? If the babies had been vaccinated I may think vaccination has caused the problem, but often the babies I am seeing are 6 weeks old or younger or older and not vaccinated. I am now concluding that reflux is the new craze amongst health visitors, GP's , facebook, magazines. Even so, why are GP's, health visitors, the grandparents and more experienced mothers not able to calm new parents, and reassure them? Is it to do with this mad world where we rush to do things, things must be in order, there is no time for us, our children or our babies to show the slightest sign of not being perfect? Just as children must not have a fever, must not have days off school, cannot be allowed to get over an infection by themselves....I don't know, but I am alarmed at GP's prescribing drugs for something which rarely needs drugs, which will resolve itself as the baby gets older and can move about, but below is some information that I hope will help reassure parents and discourage them for giving drugs to their babies who may have reflux.
The NHS definition of reflux is "Babies often bring up milk during or shortly after feeding – this is known as possetting or reflux. It's different from vomiting in babies, where a baby's muscles forcefully contract. Reflux is just your baby effortlessly spitting up whatever they've swallowed.It's natural to worry something is wrong with your baby if they're bringing up their feeds. But reflux is very common and will usually pass by the time your baby is a year old."
( If your baby is vomiting then still consider the options below as well as reading an earlier blog about vomiting and diarrhoea).
The next section on the NHS website on this topic says this, "Signs that your baby may have reflux include:spitting up milk during or after feeds – this may happen several times a dayfeeding difficulties – such as refusing feeds, gagging or choking, persistent hiccups or coughing, excessive crying, or crying while feeding or frequent ear infections".
What I am seeing in my practice is worried mothers who have been to the GP, the GP has diagnosed reflux and prescribed drugs, even for babies as young as 6 weeks old.
Although its is not nice for your baby or you if they are crying, gagging, coughing I would suggest there are other avenues to explore before you go down the drug route.
Because a baby's gut is pure, and is only designed to cope with breast milk. Formula milk the gut will cope with, though sometimes its a bit of a struggle in the early days for some babies- homeopathy can often help.
Think about this- for 9 months your baby has been exclusively feed in the womb with the perfect diet to meet his or her needs to grow and develop. Once baby is born if a mother can breast feed then the milk is again specifically designed for YOUR baby at that time. Breast milk changes as baby grows, so a prem baby gets different milk from the mother compared to one who is full term or 2 weeks, 6 weeks or whatever. Most babies will adjust to formula milk unless they have a milk allergy.
You want your baby to develop a strong healthy immune system don't you? Did you know that 80-90% of our immune system IS THE GUT! The gut runs from the mouth, through the oesophagus, the stomach, the small and large intestines to the anus.It takes 15 years or thereabouts to develop-so be careful what you put into your baby's mouth.
My baby has reflux what can I do?
Your baby is possetting, or has reflux. You don't have to do anything if your baby is still putting on weight and is not unduly upset by it. But if your baby is crying with it or is gagging or coughing or feeds are just so difficult and unpleasant for you and your baby or your baby is also having frequent ear infections . Then consider the suggestions below.
What you can consider is-
If your baby is being breastfed are you winding your baby properly? Nearly all babies need help at first to bring up wind, otherwise it can cause them pain. Some people are great at winding babies others seem not so good- I don't know why. My experience is that men are good at it...heavier hands maybe? Sometimes friends who are not emotionally affected by a baby's crying can wind a baby more easily.
Colic is a more extreme wind problem- screaming with pain, arching their back or drawing up their knees.
If you are struggling to wind your baby or your baby has colic, or frequent ear infections then see a homeopath and or acranial osteopath or a chiropractor. But before that take a look at the La Leche League website and what they say about reflux. For those who do not know LLL is a FREE breastfeeding support/counselling service .http://www.lalecheleague.org/nb/nbnovdec98p175.html and the UK link is
https://www.laleche.org.uk/ ( you may need to copy and paste the links.)
It may be that as your baby was born its neck or jaw or spine was put ever so slightly out of alignment. So slightly that its not visible, but it can have a big impact on latching on to feed/maybe one side seems easier to feed on than the other/maybe wind gets trapped/maybe lying on tummy or back is uncomfortable.
In all cases I strongly suggest you see a cranial osteopath or a chiropractor- they can see/feel any slight misalignment and gently remedy it- your baby will not be hurt. Watch this video to see what can be a cause of reflux or colic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9IDpEVkemM( you may have to copy and paste the link)
If no adjustments are needed or the reflux or colic or ear infections continues after an adjustment then do see a homeopath as we have remedies, which help and are easy to give to a baby, and are totally safe. In homeopathy we look not just at the physical manifestation of the problem but also the emotional side of things-so in a baby we would take into consideration when looking for a remedy the following- time of day or night when the problem is worse; the movements the baby makes- arching back, drawing up legs etc; positions which seem to help- baby on your shoulder or lying tummy down on your lap, being rocked or walked around with; if baby scream or cries, gets hot and red, passes wind which seems to ease things and so on.
Something else to consider is you as parents-how are you feeling? Are you stressed or anxious? Babies pick up on your energy. If you are, I suggest you see a homeopath for yourself if the following do not help you- walking in the fresh air every single day; ensuring you eat well-so greatly reduce sugar, wheat, caffeine, processed food, take away food, alcohol-all these will heighten feelings of tiredness, anxiety and stress. Try yoga breathing and I particularly like Yoga alternate nostril breathing-it is very balancing. Just google it and find a short video which appeals to you. Drink plenty of water.
Vaccination- if the reflux or colic has begun since you have had your baby vaccinated then that is something that needs to be considered...the possibility that vaccination has set this problem off. There are many chemicals in a vaccination and they have to pass through the gut. The brand new gut of a baby may struggle to process and breakdown the chemicals-though some can not be broken down and passed out of the body and some have an impact on the gut in particular-thimersal and aluminium to name just two. However vaccination is a prickly subject! and parents who choose to vaccinate are doing so in order to protect their child, just as parents who do not vaccinate are, and fortunately homeopathy can usually help issues set off by vaccination-so again, do see a homeopath.
I would just add this word of caution- if your baby has colic or reflux or a cold or anything... delay vaccination until its all cleared up. No matter what the GP says, if your baby is " off colour", don't add to the stress by introducing something new... a vaccination anew past time/experience, a new food, a new sleep pattern etc.
In my opinion drugs being given to babies should be avoided unless something critical is going on. Try everything else first. Sometimes babies need surgery or lumbar punctures or re given antibiotics as a precaution. Often afterwards parents will see reflux or problems with feeding- all the above advice applies!