Today our girl is seven weeks old. She’s growing and learning and I swear she’s becoming even more beautiful with every passing day! But life hasn’t been all smiles and long nap-times these last few weeks. Around the four-and-a-half week mark we hit a growth spurt, and Little Miss became unsettled: she slept in short bursts, fed every hour or two, and grizzled constantly. Our placid baby had become impossible! A day or two later she settled, now noticeably bigger than before! Within a few days, however, she became unsettled again. Reading through Facebook posts from other mums, I started to wonder if it might be reflux. At our 6-week check-up, the doctor agreed that this was likely the case. We had noticed the symptoms gradually; on their own, they just seemed like normal baby things, but when we finally put them together, it became pretty clear that something was wrong.
Clues that Amelia has reflux:
- Vomiting a lot. Little dribbles of reflux became chunky, projectile spew. She vomits after every feed (sometimes DURING a feed, ew!) and in between feeds.
- “Wet” hiccups. She started to get the hiccups more and more, and we could hear the liquid plopping up and down in the back of her throat with each one.
- Random fits of screaming, with no apparent cause.
- Refusing to be put down – she’d seem to fall asleep in our arms, then cry and scream when we put her in her cot.
- Feeding often, but not getting enough at each feed. She would pull away before reaching the “hind milk” (where the milk changes from thin and watery to creamy, fatty milk), which just left her hungry again.
- Pulling away from the breast, screaming and arching her back. Feeding her was becoming a nightmare!
I decided to Google “reflux” and found these exact symptoms (Huggies.com has a helpful page on reflux). The doctor prescribed Losec, an antacid that comes in tablet form. These are supposed to be swallowed whole, but may be dissolved for those (such as babies) who can’t swallow them. You’re not meant to crush them, or even break them; they presumably taste nasty; they don’t dissolve so much as break down into little flakes. I tried mixing it with expressed breast milk and bottle-feeding it after she refused to take it from a syringe, and it just got caught in the teat. I went back to the doctor and got a new prescription which I took to a compounding pharmacy, where they made a banana-flavoured liquid version. Much easier!
I spoke to the paediatrician about mixed feeding as I was concerned that she wasn’t getting quite enough food, between her fussing at the breast and vomiting up half of what she got. According to her growth chart she needs to put on a little more weight, so I felt that my concerns were validated. The paediatrician agreed that formula top-ups could be helpful to fatten her up and help her settle. She recommended starting with plain NAN or S-26, but said that if that wasn’t working out we could try a thickened formula that’s specially made for reflux.
We went with NAN, which is what we had been using for top-ups at the hospital and in the days after coming home. She took to it immediately. She had spent the previous hour sleeping lightly and refusing to be put down (Sean had her while I was at an appointment) but after a bottle of formula she sunk into a deep sleep and has been happy since!