If you or your partner had heartburn during pregnancy, then you will know how uncomfortable and distressing it can be. So it is no surprise that gastro-oesophageal reflux (GOR) can be really upsetting for young babies.
Does my Baby have GOR?
GOR occurs when some food comes back up into the oesophagus. Your baby may vomit but it more likely they will be prone to spitting up some milk after a feed (posseting). Hiccups and coughing are other signs of GOR, as is refusing feeds or only taking tiny amounts of milk at a time. These symptoms are usually nothing to worry about; reflux can be caused by a number of very normal things. Your baby’s digestive system is developing all the time and it will soon be much more able to cope with food much better. The valve that allows food and acid to go back up into the oesophagus becomes stronger all the time and in time it will work more effectively to keep food down.
Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD)
When reflux is more severe, lasts longer and causes more distress, your doctor may diagnose your baby with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD). This is basically a more severe reflux but again, your baby is likely to grow out of the condition quite quickly. If you are concerned that your baby’s reflux is severe then you need to see your doctor who can give you advice and medication for your baby if they feel it will help.
Dealing with Reflux
Whether your baby is prone to occasional reflux or they are suffering from GORD, there are ways you can help prevent the onset of symptoms, deal with them when they occur and manage the problem. For severe cases your doctor can give you thickener for your baby’s milk or prescribe you a baby antacid that can help bring ease. Your doctor will also want to discount the possibility that your baby has a milk intolerance, as the symptoms can be similar between lactose intolerance and reflux. This might mean trying your baby with a different type of milk for a period of time or, if you breastfeed your baby, it might mean you need to avoid cow’s milk.
Other ways you can help include;
? Feeding your baby in an upright position and keeping him upright for about 20 minutes after a feed. This will help with reflux and it can also help him to bring up any wind.
? Change your babies feeding routine so he is getting smaller quantities of milk more often, rather than large infrequent feeds.
Making Life Easier
While you are dealing with your baby’s colic, life can be rather messy. You can make some small changes that will make it much easier to keep your home, your baby and yourself mess-free. One essential is muslin cloths ? you just cannot have too many of these. Use them as bibs, cover-ups and cloths for spills; they are easy to wash and dry and will be invaluable. Dress baby simply to make the extra changes easier. Recruit some extra help whenever possible ? a baby with reflux can be more difficult to care for and the worry makes this even harder so accept help when it is offered. The most important thing to remember is that reflux is common and your baby is very likely to grow out of it quickly, but in the meantime there is help available to deal with this difficult condition.