How to cope when your baby has reflux
It was a steep learning curve the first few weeks after we brought our baby daughter home from the hospital. We were first time parents and were learning how to change, burp, feed and settle her as we went.
It was the feeding and settling part that we found the hardest. She would bring up most of her milk and, afterwards, would scream with pain. She would cry when being put flat on her back.
After a few hapless days spent trying to figure out where we were going wrong, we took her to the doctor and discovered she had reflux.
Being brand new parents, we were worried we had done something wrong – but our doctor reassured us we hadn’t. Reflux is a very common complaint for newborns. In fact, one small study found that 73% of the babies participating suffered from reflux in the first month after birth.
In our case, our doctor recommended the wait-and-see approach. Babies tend to grow out of it, their immature digestive system just needing time to develop. But here’s a fact all parents know well: waiting and watching your baby crying, or exhibiting other signs of pain or discomfort, can be very tough.
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We were given some tips to help ease her discomfort – these included holding her upright for up to 45 minutes after a feed, keeping her head raised by placing a towel or small pillow underneath the mattress of her crib, and keeping a cool head when things got tough.
The main thing, however, that got us through those first few weeks of having a reflux baby was keeping a cool head. Seeing your baby crying after a feed is not easy. Feeding is meant to help settle them, not do the opposite. But we tried to remind ourselves that she would most likely grow out of it. And as our doctor predicted, she did.
It helped that my husband and I worked as a team. We often reminded ourselves that this was a short phase, and that we would get through it. And get through it we did, to the point that when our son also got reflux we were much more relaxed about it.
Reflux usually stops when the oesophagus has fully developed. When you’re in the thick of it, though, it may seem like the posseting will never end. But it’s important to remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel – you just need a cool head to get there.