Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. But, I am a mom of five, four of which had severe acid reflux. I can say that I am a “pro,” but I can’t give medical advice, so you should always check with your doctor. However, this is what helped us survive our experience with acid reflux. Please keep that in mind when reading.
I hate acid reflux. Yes, hate is a strong word but let me say it again. I hate it. Four out of my five littles have suffered from the awful condition, which unfortunately makes me a acid reflux pro.
Grayson is the latest one of the bunch to encounter the awful mess. When he was about two weeks old, I knew that he was struggling. I could literally hear him refluxing. He would stop breathing as the food came back up. You might remember this post, where he earned himself a heart monitor from the many reflux episodes. It is no fun; it is also nothing to mess around with, as it can be pretty serious.
I feel for so many parents who have to encounter reflux. You get less sleep. Your baby is fussy, miserable, uncomfortable, and in pain. There is no doubt about that; it is so very painful. It literally feels like you’re having a heart attack. And it burns. Imagine how your poor baby must feel going through something so awful.
Now, not every baby who has acid reflux has it as bad as Grayson but usually, it’s painful no matter what.
How do you know your baby has acid reflux? Well, here are a few signs we have seen over the years, with Grayson too: arching of the back, acting fussy from feeding to feeding, spitting up more than the regular amount, projectile vomiting, and no interest in eating. Just plain miserable. Luckily for us we have an amazing GI specialist. I mean, amazing. She has been with us the last five years, and we couldn’t survive without her knowledge. I am happy to say Grayson can actually hold down food now for the most part. Like all of my previous children, we went with the same plan and tips for managing life with acid reflux. Yes, it is somewhat of an art.
Tips for Managing Acid Reflux
Figure out if the acid reflux is just reflux or if it is a protein, milk/soy allergy too
Once you figure this out, things get easier. You can choose the right formula without trying (and buying!) a ton. How did we know it was reflux? With the symptoms above in mind, we also would give him a very small amount of Maalox or Manta when he was fussy after or before a feeding. By fussy I mean in pain and irritable. If this helps, you know it is reflux. However, this isn’t something you can give every day, all day. You have to use it when it is absolutely needed. But if it really does help, you know it’s not an allergy. A sure way to know if it is a milk/soy allergy is seeing mucus in the stool or if they spit-up any kind of brown coffee-like grounds. Both are signs of an allergy.
Switch formula and start a medication
After trying Zantac, we moved to Prevacid. Prevacid is stronger and works better all around, as it has for all of our kids. It helps with irritability, which is always a plus. You have to make sure to administer the medication properly too. – Elevation. ALWAYS: This is a must. Forget the crib. They won’t be sleeping in it for awhile. Reflux is very painful. I can’t say this enough. Make sure you keep your little elevated after a feeding for at least 45 minutes and try to keep them elevated when feeding as well. Letting them sleep in a swing, rock and play or bouncy chair is the best way to go when you have a little one suffering. Grayson sleeps in his swing because that is the only way he is comfortable. You will probably notice that a baby with reflux hates being on their back. Because it hurts. My now 5-year-old stayed in a swing-like glider until she outgrew acid reflux at six months. My biggest advice would be to make sure they are always, always, always in an upright position. You want to make sure that they are comfortable.
It’s about managing the pain
Even when you start the medication and switch formula, the spit-up doesn’t stop overnight. And sometimes it doesn’t stop completely. But it’s about managing the pain. Making sure that they are comfortable. Making sure they are gaining weight too! By giving them the medication correctly, keeping them upright and getting the food part down, the crying should end soon. I know… it’s exhausting!
People freak out when I tell them Grayson has had rice cereal in his bottle since he was 2-weeks-old, but he was at a point where he was vomiting so much, he was losing weight. Not good. Like for all of my children, the doctor immediately suggested the rice cereal. In the past, this was the only way we could keep the food down completely. And just like that, it worked like a charm. He is literally drinking a thick milkshake. Yes, thick. His formula can’t move back and fourth swiftly in the bottle or it will come right back up. This is where the art comes into play. We have to mix in enough rice cereal until it is like a mashed potato form. Yummy.
Try and relax
I know how hard it is to have a fussy, miserable baby. It’s awful. And so hard on all the members of the family. But if you are uptight and stressing, the baby will feel those emotions, and it will only make things worse. Just try to tell yourself that with the right doctors and medication, it will get better one day. I promise! My girls all outgrew it when they started sitting up and eating real food. Just like magic, it was done. Just try and relax. Swaddle the baby. Play soft music. And just hold them close and tell them it’s okay. Remember what they are going through too. Once you figure out a plan and baby is happy, give yourself a pat on the back. Any parent who has to live through acid reflux deserves a mini-vacay. It’s just exhausting.