I know it's Monday and I said I would be posting my menu on Mondays. This week, I'm not going to. Instead, I thought I'd share a little bit of our reflux story and give some advice to those going through something similar. I recently talked with a friend about it and felt it would be good to write it all out here too.
We started noticing something was off with Sweet T when he was just a couple months old. He spit up an average amount, slept GREAT, wasn't fussy, and was a big baby. Nothing indicated reflux at all, until he started have episodes where he looked like he was choking. I took him to the doctor, who at first didn't think it was anything major. Maybe a little cold or something. Then it started getting worse where he wouldn't breathe for a second, so I called again, and they said it was most likely silent reflux. We started on some over the counter meds immediately, and this momma freaked! My baby would literally stop breathing. Can you imagine trying to sleep when your child did something like that? It was scary. And it got worse. Those meds worked for about a month and a half, but by 3 1/2 months, we needed something stronger. So we switched to Zantac. It works for some kids, but not for T. It didn't work AT ALL! In fact, two weeks later we were back in his doctors office to figure something else out. By this point, it was BAD. REALLY BAD! He would stop breathing for extended periods of time. His pedi told us to switch to Prevacid. After leaving the doctor's office, we had a scary 10 minute drive to meet my parents at a local restaurant. T stopped breathing several times. I remember thinking, "what if he doesn't start breathing again?" At the restaurant, he had another episode. This time, he turned blue and fainted. Several times. You can imagine what that did to his daddy and me! HEART ATTACK!!! We rushed him to the ER (which was thankfully really close by), where they put us in the cardiac room. They said since he stopped breathing, turned blue, and fainted, he needed that room. They ran tons of tests, pricked him several times, couldn't get that stupid IV in! and ran some X-rays. It was every mother's nightmare and I remember it vividly. After several hours, the ER doctor dismissed us and said to see our pedi the next day. There was nothing else wrong with him. His blue and fainting episode was simply reflux. Turns out with some babies, they are able to close their throats to keep the acid down, because the acid burns so badly. That's what T was doing. We did not sleep well after that. T was in our room for months because of it. We were afraid to leave him with baby sitters, refused to put him in the nursery at church, and even when we started to a while later, I made sure to explain very carefully how to turn him upside down and smack his back if he stopped breathing. I always made sure to throw in the "he turned blue and fainted" part just to make sure they watched him close enough. And then I shook the entire service wondering if they would catch it if it happened. Even with the prevacid, he would occasionally stop breathing. It was nowhere near as bad, but still happened regularly. My grandma is scarred from seeing it happen once. She seriously cries even now when she talks about it. As you can imagine, I've done tons of research and have lots of experience with reflux. In fact, Little L had reflux too. His was the more traditional type. He didn't sleep, was SUPER fussy, spit up all over the place, you know, that type of fun. They are both awful. One is scary, one is frustrating (who likes to be up all hours of the night every night because your child is in too much pain to sleep?). As if I don't have enough info in my brain, I've discussed this with a friend of mine who also has two reflux babies. Her first was like L, her second is like T. Together, we could teach classes. Or... write a blog post about it :-D
Tips on how to help a reflux baby:
-Eating Right- Many babies have a hard time digesting dairy and you will probably find that cutting dairy out of your diet makes a world of difference (I'm assuming you're breast feeding, because Breast is Best). Cutting spicy foods, tomato products, and caffeine will help too. L's biggest issue was wheat. When I cut gluten out of my diet, his milk allergy cleared up, and so did his reflux. He was able to stop his meds months before T did!
-Speaking of feedings, small, frequent meals are best. If you're anything like me, this one is HARD. I'm not really a big fan of breast feeding. I do it because I honestly believe it's best for them and would be selfish if I didn't. I may not be the best momma ever, but I try really, really hard to put their needs above my wants. Anyway, back to the topic :-). You might feel like you feed baby, change a diaper, get a half hour nap, then have to feed baby again. It's exhausting, but really does help! And how's your let down? Strong? I'm sure it is. That could be part of the problem too. If you have a really strong and fast let down, let the milk spray in to a burp cloth or wash cloth until it stops spraying, then let baby re-latch and finish the meal. My friend said her daughter does best being upright while nursing. If you bottle feed, you want your baby upright too.
-In fact, that leads us to the next point. Baby should be upright as much as possible. Both of my boys slept in their car seats for a while. L was in there for what seemed like forever! He needed to be sitting up like that, though. Laying down flat makes it so much worse. Do you have a moby wrap? If not, it might be worth buying one so you can have baby upright in there while you go about your day. Hands free AND helpful! Alright!
-Burp baby often. Feed for 5 or 10 minutes and then burp. And burp the correct way. Don't just put baby against your shoulder. It doesn't do much. You need to put a little bit of pressure on baby's tummy. If you insist on burping over your shoulder, put baby's tummy on your shoulder with his hands down your back. I always felt like my babies were going to fall, so I didn't use this method. I preferred to have my boys sit on my lap with their heads supported between my thumb and first finger. Here's a picture of J burping L like this (but L was trying so hard to lift his head, so it's not the best example ever)
-Tummy time is important for reflux babies, but not right after a meal. Wait AT LEAST a half hour!
-Some people find Hazel wood necklaces helpful. I honestly didn't even try them and my friend said it did absolutely nothing for her kiddos. They are expensive, but if you feel so inclined, give it a try. I wouldn't have high hopes, though.
-Another thing I just recently learned (thanks to my friend!) is that Papaya is supposed to help a lot. Don't like the taste? I think they have vitamins or pills.
So, there ya go! I might add to this if I think of anything, or if my super informed friend has anything to add. If I have any readers with suggestions or comments, please feel free to let me know! Reflux is an awful, awful thing and it would be wonderful for you to share!