by Melissa LeBreton
Reflux is a condition where the acid contents of the stomach are regurgitating into the oesophagus causing pain. This occurs as the sphincter or door to the stomach is immature in babies and doesn’t close properly. In two thirds of babies this is normal which accounts for the frequent spitting up. It peaks around 4 months and is improved when solids start and usually by one year symptoms have gone. For the babies that it is a problem for there are several natural ways in which this may be remedied without harmful side effects.
Silent reflux may occur if there is no spitting up as the stomach contents regurgitate into the back of the throat causing a sore throat, wheeziness or respiratory infections. Only painful outbursts and night waking may be seen. Further investigation may be recommended to diagnose reflux which can be done with a barium swallow x- ray. However, you should consult your doctor regarding this.
Medical treatment treats the symptoms but also comes with some unwanted side effects. Soothing the digestive tract with pharmaceuticals also wreaks havoc with the ability to digest foods causing an imbalance of the acid levels increasing the likelihood of further reflux.
- Regurgitating, spitting up or vomiting
- Frequent inconsolable bouts of abdominal pain day and night
- Awaken with painful bursts of crying during the night
- Fussiness after eating and draws legs up to chest
- Arching or writhing in pain
- Reduced fussiness when carried or upright
- Unexplained colds or wheeziness
- Frequent wet burps, hiccupping, gagging, “throaty” noises
- Excessive drooling
- Dry cough
Suggestions and treatment options for comforting your baby with reflux
- Finding a feeding pattern that causes the least problems and if eating solids, choosing foods that keep the stomach rapidly emptying reducing the foods going up
- Positioning – allowing gravity to keep the stomach contents down. Don’t put your baby down after a feed. Keep upright as much as possible eg sling, bouncer, baby carrier
- Raise the end of the cot by 30 degrees. Attachment parenting style or parenting in a way that soothes the crying as crying puts more pressure on the stomach and increases reflux.
- Small feeds and more frequently
- Foods that may aggravate reflux include: dairy, wheat, citrus fruits, tomatoes, capsicum, garlic and onions, alcohol, chilli, some fruit juices, fatty and fried foods, peppermint, spicy foods and caffeine including coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate. It is also wise to avoid foods that you as parents are intolerant or allergic to.
- Slippery elm paste by dropper or pasting onto the nipple of breast or teat soothes the digestive tract.
- Homeopathics are safe and gentle remedies that can be very effective in treating reflux. Brauer stomach calm.
- Baby probiotics which contain bifidobacterium infantis are also important. Probiotics ensure the digestive tract has the right balance of good bacteria for optimum digestion as well as playing an important role in the immune system. There are 70 -80% of our immune cells in our digestive tract so probiotics are necessary for good health.
Vive Health Naturopaths recommend the following products:
Bioceuticals Babybiotic – 1 scoop provided mixed with breastmilk or formula at each feed or at least 3 times daily.
Brauer Stomach Calm Under 6 months – 0.5ml 4 hourly or every half hour until symptoms relieved. Over 6 months give 1ml every 4 hours or every half hour until symptom relief.
Slippery Elm powder – Mix 1/2 tspn with breastmilk and apply to nipple before feeding or give off teaspoon or add to formula and mix well.
Here at Vive Health we would love to here your own personal stories about how you have treated your own baby. Please let us know what has worked for you and your little one?