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When the Pediatrician Makes it Worse

By Katie |

When Eli was brand new, he had a tendency to make this high pitched noise, followed by gagging and coughing. I, of course, panicked at first, but my husband assured me it was reflux and it was normal because most babies don’t have the necessary flap in their esophagus at birth (this is the benefit of being married to a doctor). I was totally fine to leave it alone as long as it didn’t seem to bother him and so we watched and waited. We would hear him do his cough/gag thing a few times a day or do some loud swallowing, but he was happy and never seemed to care.

Until a about two weeks ago.

The gag/cough and swallowing didn’t stop and suddenly, it seemed to be a big deal to Eli, especially the swallowing. He would do this loud swallow and then SCREAM. It was a high pitched, shrill cry that was unlike anything he usually did. He also started to have an increase in spit up, but not the normal spit up after eating, it was usually at least 30 minutes later and was clear and acidic smelling. I’d pick him up in the morning and his pajamas would reek of acid.

This in addition to the sudden onset of grunting all night was enough for me. Clearly the reflux wasn’t getting better as I had been promised it would, so I called the pediatrician…and was told there were no appointments until July 9th. I blame myself for this because I did not adequately explain the need to be seen soon. I called back a few days later and was given an appointment that afternoon with another pediatrician in the practice.

The pediatrician greeted us and had me tell her what was going on. Immediately her tone changed and she stopped being the warm woman who introduced herself to us. She seemed…skeptical. She would ask me questions and when I said no, she’d ask me again as though I was lying. After I got through the whole story, she asked me how much Eli was eating and when I told her 2.5-3oz per feeding, she gasped. Apparently this is on the “upper end of normal” and we’re overfeeding him.

My 9 pound 6 week old baby is overeating, apparently.

She did an exam, concluded that he had no visible erosion from the reflux and told us that he’d outgrow it and didn’t need medication. When asked how to manage the overeating “problem” she had no suggestions except to not give in. When asked about the reflux pain she said it was probably newborn fussiness and I was misunderstanding.

I have almost no words for this situation that are not profane. I’m sorry, I know that I am a new mother, but I know my son. I know his cries and I know when things are okay and when they’re not. I also know that trying to feed him less is completely unrealistic because he screams and screams and holds his breath until he’s purple and screams if he’s not full. We do this 8 times a day, trust me, cutting him back is not going to work.

So now I’m home with a baby in pain who can’t just take the nearly completely harmless acid reflux medications that would provide him relief and I’m stressing about how much food he’s taking. I feel like that trip, where my concerns were completely dismissed, made everything worse instead of better.

I love our pediatrician, but this woman is not one I’ll be seeing again unless there’s an absolute emergency. She doesn’t have to agree with me, but a good doctor should never make a mother feel stupid for being concerned about her child, and that’s exactly what she did.

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About Katie



Katie is a former teacher, part-time PT, wife, and first-time mother to the baby with the best ears on the Internet. You can find more of her grammatically questionable writing at her blog, Overflowing Brain. Read bio and latest posts → Read Katie's latest posts →

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12 thoughts on “When the Pediatrician Makes it Worse

  1. Suebob says:

    I feel so bad for you and for your little guy.

  2. Amber says:

    My daughter was born at 9 lbs 2 oz and was the “perfect” baby for the first 2 weeks. All of a sudden she stopped eating and what she did eat she threw up. I was at the doctors office for 7 weeks straight with her, sometimes with more than 1 appt. a week. She was labeled a lazy eater so we fed by syringe, we tried every formula known to man but she kept throwing them up. As soon as reflux or more high risk testing was suggested (by me) they would shut me down. Because there were no errosion signs and she gained weight (even though it was mere ounces) I was told not to worry.

    I took her for her 6 month checkup this month. While she should’ve doubled her birth weight by 5 months (general rule for babies, all are different of course) she was only 6 lbs heavier. My doctor looked at me and said, “Hmmm, she’s pretty small for her age. Maybe there’s something going on.” *head explodes*

    Your his advocate, so fight for what you think is right for your baby.

  3. Samantha says:

    I’m so sorry she was so insensitive about the situation!! I would have reacted in the same way. At 6 weeks, my baby was eating about that amount and she’s in the 50% for weight and 75% for height. I’ve always trusted my baby, thinking that nobody knows better than her if she’s hungry and I often times make Finley (my 4.5 mo. old) take breaks when it seems like she’s scarfing down her bottle too fast, by pulling out he bottle and replacing it with a pacifier for a few minutes. Maybe this would help? Once again, I’m really sorry you were made to feel this way, no mother, especially a new mother should ever be made to feel stupid when clearly you are trying your best and only have your child’s best interest at heart!!

  4. Becky says:

    If it helps at all, when my baby was 6 weeks old she was having 5-6oz per feed! (she weighed about 11lb though…) I’ve always been told that they won’t overeat, they take as much as they need and if they do take too much they’ll throw it straight back up.

  5. Nancy at Spinning My Plates says:

    My son had acid reflux and needed meds from about 2 months up to nearly 12 months. Listen to your instinct, give it a few days and go back if it’s not resolved.

  6. autoclave239 says:

    That pedi is flat wrong. You can’t overfeed an infant. It doesn’t work that way, even if it’s just comfort feeding, they NEED it. And 3 oz isn’t the upper end of normal, it’s just normal. I don’t have a medical degree, but these things are what my pedi told me, so take it as you will.

  7. Katie says:

    My advice is go back and see another doctor. If you feel there is something hurting your little one then they need to listen to you. Our ped told us the same thing about overrating as another poster, they will throw up what they don’t want. Here is the way I look at it, they get paid every time I come in so even if they thInk I’m crazy I’m there customer and I’m paying for a service and if I’m not happy I’ll take my business else where!

  8. Meagan says:

    I’d go back and see a different doctor. Good luck.

  9. Becky C says:

    I’d say a 2nd opinion is in order…I’d go ahead and schedule another appt with your pediatrician for as soon as possible! And what could just trying the meds possibly hurt!? If you use them for a week or so and see no difference, you’ll know it’s something else and you can stop. I changed my son’s doctor after repeated ear infections and no relief and his refusal to even try allergy meds on him! Within 2 months of changing doctors, his ear/sinus/brochial infections stopped and he was diagnosed with mild asthma…something his other doctor never even mentioned! 11 years later, we’re still with her and have never regretted making the switch! Follow your gut and don’t be afraid tofight for your kid!;)

  10. amireally says:

    even if it was overfeeding, it sounds to me like the reason is probably that he is trying to soothe the pain from reflux (hence shrieking, which stops with more food). so even if he doesn’t need all the food and it’s making him worse, sounds like he still needs relief from the acid!

  11. Etta says:

    My son was nursed for 3 months but between month 2 and 3 I noticed he was losing weight. I went in probably twice a week telling them something wasn’t right he’s losing weight finally when he went from being in the 50% for weight all the way to 3% his dr finally admitted there was something wrong. He was a lazy nurser and he needed to be bottle fed an have his calories monitored. Now at almost 16 months I still count his daily calories and make sure he’s rainy plenty and he’s still only in the 15% Like other responses have said follow your gut and fight for your child.
    At 2 months old he was also diagnosed with an inguinal hernia that needed surgical repair but no one had a sense of urgency about them except for me and I kept on top of every one until we finally met with the surgeon three weeks later and he was so frustrated that he hadn’t seen my son sooner. He got us in 4 days later for surgery. Once again I had to fight for the care of my son.
    We are the ones who care the most about our children other people can easily over look your complaints. Stand tall and strong momma you’ll all make it through.

  12. Rachel says:

    I definitely don’t think you’re overfeeding, if that’s even possible. My daughter is 4.5 weeks old and 9 lbs 6 oz, and she always cries after feedings making me think she’s not getting enough. At our appointment last week the pediatrician said she should probably eat about 3 oz per feeding. Also, there’s a chart in the Nursing Mother’s Companion book that tells you how much your child should be eating based on their weight and it was just over 3 oz.

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