All About Reflux

Seeing your baby in pain after feeding is one of the most upsetting things in the world – but there are many ways to treat reflux.

When born, babies’ digestive systems are immature, and so spitting up, or posseting, is common. Reflux is when the swallowed milk comes back up into the oesophagus or mouth and causes distress and irritation. Reflux can occur in both bottle and breast-fed babies. There is a ring of muscle where the oesophagus joins the stomach. This muscular valve opens to let through food and then closes; however, in babies, this muscular ring has not been fully developed yet, so milk and stomach acid can come back up the oesophagus, causing discomfort similar to heartburn in adults.

Reflux can be difficult to diagnose in newborns, and generally presents itself from about three weeks of age onwards. Symptoms include posseting, occasional vomiting after eating, frequent hiccups and coughing. Some parents may mistake reflux for colic. It’s common, and is thought to affect at least 40 per cent of babies. The good news is that it generally gets better as your baby’s digestion system matures; only a small percentage of babies have severe or persistent reflux.

Silent reflux occurs when the milk comes up but the baby swallows it down again. In some babies, the milk comes up but doesn’t make it as far as the milk. Silent reflux can be uncomfortable, especially when your baby is lying down.

How to prevent reflux

A mild case of reflux can be improved by the following simple tips; however, if at any stage you are worried about your baby, always take him/her to your GP or public health nurse for professional advice.

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Feed your baby in an upright position
  • Keep your baby upright for 30 minutes after a feed
  • If bottlefeeding, try burping your baby every few minutes during a feed. In addition, make sure the hole in the teat isn’t too big
  • Give your baby smaller but more frequent feeds
  • Try raising your baby’s bed so your baby’s head is higher than his/her body when lying down
When to see a doctor

We would always recommending getting medical advice if at any stage your baby is not thriving, appears unwell or you are worried about him/her. With regards to reflux, the following are signs that your baby’s reflux may need more medical attention or treatment:

Frequent reflux
  • Irritable or fussy during or after feeds, especially if he/she is arching his/her back
  • Regularly vomits large amounts of milk after feeding (up to two hours afterwards)
  • Vomit contains blood or is green or yellow in colour
  • Has a sore tummy or throat
  • Failure to thrive or put on weight
  • Seems listless or out of sorts
How relux is treated

There are a number of treatments for reflux; before your visit, keep a diary of your baby’s symptoms, including how often/how much your baby eats, how often/how much your baby brings up, and when/how often your baby cries. This will help guide your doctor in diagnosing your baby and finding the right treatment. These treatments include infant antacids, adding a thickener to feeds and cutting out cow’s milk (as intolerance to cow’s milk occurs in about 30 per cent of reflux cases).

maternity & infant

Originally posted 2016-03-16 10:05:39.