Pregnancy is a wonderful time. Despite the intense fatigue, the sickness, and the aches and pains (not to mention all the other ailments and symptoms that can come about due to a growing baby), there is something magical about realising that you have helped to create an entire life, and that life is growing steadily within you. Pregnancy is also a time of planning, of dreaming, and of hoping that plans and dreams come together in the end to give you the perfect child in a perfect situation.
It’s not always the case though. You may hope for snuggling cuddles and long, leisurely walks, you may look forward to just sitting and watching your baby sleep, but what you probably won’t expect is not being able to do any of these things due to infant reflux. That’s what happened to me when my daughter was born – I had hoped for something so different for her, but my poor little girl was in pain what seemed like all of the time.
Infant reflux leaves you with a baby who is screaming in pain as their stomachs battle with the issues that are plaguing them. This means a baby who cannot settle, with whom you cannot spend quality, parent/child bonding time, and for whom you can do little to help. Over the counter medicines are so mild as to barely touch the problem. Prescribed medicines can cause horrible side effects. So what can be done? Perhaps it is time to turn to natural remedies to aid your baby’s well being. Stop feeling helpless and start the process towards health and happiness.
What Is Infant Reflux?
Infant reflux (or gastroesophageal reflux disease) means that your child has an underdeveloped oesophageal sphincter. Although the symptoms are often mistaken for the less serious (although still painful and uncomfortable) colic at first, having infant reflux means that the valve that opens to allow food to pass from the mouth to the stomach doesn’t close as it should once the food is swallowed. This means that anything eaten or drunk (including milk) can come back up the windpipe, and when it does it brings stomach acid with it. Obviously, this excessive acid is incredibly painful.
Signs and symptoms most commonly include your child arching their back after feeding, and crying due to the pain. Sleep will be disturbed (yours and theirs), and they may vomit more than a child without infant reflux would. As well as this, you may notice them gagging or choking (which in itself is an awful thing to witness in your infant), and they may get the hiccoughs frequently. Eventually, the pain and discomfort may lead to a refusal to eat (and therefore weight loss) and crying during a feed.
Natural Remedies That Can Help
As a parent, saving your child from pain becomes a lifelong mission, and I was (and am) no exception. And since none of the medicines we tried seemed to be helping at all, I decided I needed to look elsewhere to help her. In my quest, I found that there were plenty of other routes that can be taken when it comes to infant reflux.
• Homeopathic remedies have been used for over two centuries, and with good reason; they work. For reflux, Nat Phos 6x works wonders. Just one tablet dissolved in milk and given straight after a feed offers a huge relief from the pain and suffering that reflux brings. For babies who are breastfed, it is possible for the mother to take two of the tablets three times a day (after meals). The goodness is then passed straight to the baby through the mother’s milk.
• Diet when breastfeeding is another way to help ease the problems of infant reflux. Although there is no proven list of foodstuff that should be cut out of a child’s mother’s diet with regards to reflux, it is good to remember that a baby’s digestive system is tiny and delicate, and therefore can’t cope with items that an adult’s can. These things could include dairy, eggs, nuts, soya, caffeine, gluten, and anything spicy, as well as too many carbs. Drinking more chamomile tea may also help as the benefits are passed through your milk and can ease a sore tummy.
• Keep your baby’s head elevated whilst feeding. This will help aid the milk to get to her stomach rather than getting caught in her oesophagus. But it’s not just at mealtimes that reflux can occur, so also keep their head up during nappy changing, bath time, and playtime if possible.
• Little and often is the key to many things in life, and infant reflux doesn’t seem to be any different. It could be that too much milk at once can set off the symptoms of reflux, so smaller meals at more frequent intervals could settle it back down again. Burping after every feed is also helpful and can ease the pain your child may be feeling.
• Jewellery helps too. Not just any jewellery though; Hazelwood reflux jewellery helps to ease the excess acid build up that comes from reflux.
• Have you ever heard of baby wearing? Perhaps you have, but by a different name. Baby wearing is the practice of using a carrier or sling. It’s a wonderful way of bonding with your infant, but it also keeps them upright for longer than they might usually be (with no pressure of their stomachs), thus keeping the symptoms of reflux to a minimum.
• A chiropractor may well be able to help your baby’s reflux. Some babies suffer misalignment due to the birthing process, and this can lead to issues with their pallet and cranium, which means that reflux is more likely. A skilled chiropractor can ensure that this is fixed, and that reflux is less likely. Do make sure that the chiropractor you choose has worked with infants before, as the adjustments should only be very slight.
• Leading on from what a chiropractor can do for your child is what you can do at home; baby massage. Baby massage works to keep the digestive system working well and as it should do, even maturing it to be able to cope with different food types at an early age. There is no expensive or complicated equipment required; all you need is baby oil (organic if possible) with perhaps an added drop of lavender or chamomile.
Trying these alternative methods of calming a child’s infant reflux symptoms is not only a relief to the suffering baby, but a relief to the parents as well.