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Raising Awareness About Silent Reflux & Colic - Helpful Tips

It's November 2017 and I've got a 6 week old baby boy, who has been diagnosed with reflux. It's been a difficult few weeks. I've read a lot of stuff online but I wanted to write a short blog as I know my website comes up with good google seo search and infomation so here's my story about colic, reflux, small babies and challenging times, exhausting nights and so on. If you are like myself with limited family support around, it's helpful to read some accurate helpful advice and it's the internet which has proven more useful than my local GP.

Signs of reflux in my baby:

Difficulty feeding

Gulping air / breathing problems

Sucking frantically on a dummy and needing the dummy 

Squirming as if air is trapped

Crying after or during a feed in pain

Swallowing awkwadrly and choking

Yelping in pain after feeding

Coughing or trying to clear the throat

Extremely uncomfortable lying flat

Calm and quiet when swaddled at an angle

Crying that does not stop

Please see the bottom of this page for my tips on reflux

I've been shrugged off by 2 local doctors with "developmental colic" and watching my baby in pain was not something I was going to tolerate. After a lot of persistence and force I have had my baby given prescribed Ranitidine (Zantac). 

Pregnancy : I had a fairly normal pregnancy but my first I had hyperemesis gravidarum which left me with acid reflux which was very painful.
My second pregnancy I had sickness but it wasn't as bad and I suffered again with restless leg syndrome and a difficulty eating certain foods again.

Week 1 : When Joshua was born, he was by C section and made an awful wheezing noise for 2 days. He had hiccups a lot in my belly and when he was born had hiccups a lot again. His wheezing got quite bad on the first night, and I was having trouble peeing after the catheter was removed so while I was having bladder scans they took him for xrays to check his chest and at 3am in the morning the pediatrician came to see us and checked further with blood tests and nothing was found. It was determined as he was c section sometimes they don't get pushed out and they get mucus stuck which causes wheezing. We were sent home as usual after 3 days and he had slight jaundice but nothing they were worried about, and he slept for most of the time quietly and hardly even cried. I thought it was bliss.

Week 2 : Problems started. Breastfeeding was becoming a nightmare and he wasn't latching and uncomfotable lying on the right side. Left was fine. He was gulping his feeds, and swallowing air. Squirming uncomfortably and enjoyed being held upright on my chest or rocked. It started in the afternoon and got progressivley worse througout the day. It seemed difficult for him to burp. I introduced a dummy and more upright bottle feeding which eased his squirming, but noticed he was sucking on the dummy frantically after feeding. He was sounding congested so bought some saline spray for his nose, I thought maybe he ws unable to breath properly from October sniffles and colds, hence the wind sucking / gulping feeds. 

Week 3 : I changed his bottles to Mams colic bottles, bought infracol, bought colief drops, tried to help him bring up his air but he still struggled to burp. He was gulping, swallowing huge amounts of air which I thought was the problem. Crying after all his feeds I thought was trapped wind. Colic kicked in around 7pm, he cried himself until 11pm to sleep, a lot of walking / pacing and rocking. 2 to 3 hours he was up again crying, this continued until around 5am sometimes 7am he would go back to sleep and sleep most of the morning. I started trickle feeding him with a relly tight teat that we had from the hospital bottles steralised and that made mornings easier. My 20 month old was up at 7/8am so I was getting around 2 to 3 hours, 4 if I was lucky a night.

Week 4 : It started to get worse with colic at night around 7pm, his tummy was sounding really gurgly though the gulping, the squirming and yelping started earlier now in the afternoon and was more prolinged. He was uncomfortable after every feed, all through the day and I was noticing he didn't like completely flat anymore. I'd already raised his basket so he slept at a slight angle at night but raising it higher now seemed to help more though he was getting so high, he was wriggling to the bottom and looked so uncomfy. I was exhausted. I was getting flu and my c sectio scar was getting infected I think due to tiredness, constant lifting / walking and lack of rest. Lots of tcp on it and antibiotics now helped it clear up. I'd started using a sling for the baby and it was helping bring his wind up.

Week 5 - Useless Doctors : By now infracol, colief, saline spray and baby olbus on a rag outside of his basket was not providing any relief and I was physically exhausted, so I called the doctors surgery where they called me back, moaned about the antibiotics not helpling me and my stitches not dissolving etc, discussed his problems and the first Doctor Myhill at Desborough advised me his esophagus needs to develop, had I spoken to the health visitors, changed his bottles etc and advised it's developmental colic he will grow out of it. I had a terrible night again, wanted a second opinion about my infected scar and the baby so next day called again, was advised again it's developmental colic he will grow out of it and antiseptic (dettol diluted / tcp) on my wound. My Doctor Khan saw me this time - me not the baby, as he sleeps in the mornings so they wern't overly worried and he was a little more helpful but not on the baby colic issue. I was upset. Mostly as seeing your baby in pain day in day out is extremely distressing. My husband was taking the baby off me at the weekends to let me try and catch up on some sleep and poor Joshua was crying himself to sleep out of sheer exhaustion with my husband, I could hear him in distress and it was difficult to rest.

Week 5 - Cranial Osteopath : By now I was at breaking point. I've spent 4 days touring with gigs before, 2 gigs on a Friday night, then Saturday flying to Germany, another internal transfer for 4th and then home on a Monday with no sleep over 3 days but that was nothing compared to 3 weeks of broken sleep and 2 young babies to deal with. My 21 month old was now teething and while my 5 week old boy was needing constant attention and my baby girl was getting more and more agitated at the lack of attention. I'd read a cranial osteopath may help on netmums, booked an appointment. She took some details and discussed baby, gave him a massage and said he had a lot of bottom pain from wind. She thought there was a couple of issues, didn't pick up on the reflux but mentioned to change the milk from cow and gate to goats nanny care. He had a massage and he was really enjoying it. She suggested lying him on his left side as the stomach empties there, hence why he preferred that when we was feeding. I went home, bought a tin of the milk it said 3 days and I rang the health visitor the next morning.

Week 5 - Health Visitor : I rang Veronica nearly in tears and severly distressed. I said i'd been advised to change the milk they said don't do it, they will email my Doctor, see a 3rd Doctor who would be more sympathtic, and she would write an email to suggest changing the milk to prescription and book me in with a dietician. I tried to get an appointment with the doctor she advised but I could only get in with Dr Pattar, but he listened to my issues, I described his bottom end as runny and explosive, difficulty feeding etc and I was prescribed 2 tins of Nutramigen. I got home, made it up and on his first feed he completely stopped gulping. I thought we had started to solve it but the squirming got worse after feeds and he was in even more pain after feeding. The doctors had advised it can take up to 48 hours to take effect sometimes a week. This was a Friday. My 21 month old is teetching, 2 crying babies is certainly testing... 

Week 5 - A&E : Being up at 2am walking and pacing, I'd found comfort in reading the internet and trying to find a solution. Other people on netmums had thought this was reflux. The more I looked the symptoms the more it dawned on me he was in pain and it wasn't just colic, though colic kicked in the same time every day, he had silent reflux on top. I was getting more and more tearful watching my poor baby suffer, thinking there must be something - he can't scream like this day in day out in pain for the next 6 months until he grows out of it. The next day, Saturday, the milk was stopping the gulping but not the screaming after feeds, he was sobbing when he was crying in extreme pain and I'd had enough. I'd gone to Derby to DJ and said to my husband before I left if he is still up with him when I get home I'm taking him to A&E. I'd read on netmums that the only relief you get is seeing a pediatrician and your Doctor won't refer you if they think it's colic but a pediatrician in the hospital can prescribe meds. I cried all the way to Derby in the car, played a DJ set (luckily it was the dirtiest hardest tech and neuro dnb set ever so I got some anger out). Bypassing my GP, I rang up my local A&E at 3am on the way home and they said they didn't have a pediatrician we would have to wait for one to come down off the ward. I rang Birminghams children hospital at 3.30 the way back from Derby as my husband was still up sounding exhausted and baby Joshua had been screaming all night. They said they had a 6 hour wait but by all means come and wait to be seen. 

I got home. Packed a bag, spare clothes with my plan, of visiting Kettering A&E and if they didn't help my baby boy's reflux I was going to drive to Birmingham childrens hospital and not leave until my baby was better. 4am I was on the way.

Joshy in his bean bag. The health visitors don't recommend baby bean bags but I find they support his head and back better upright than other chairs which don't help the reflux.

5am they could see he was in pain and administered him calpol. 20 mins later he was asleep and out of pain. He looked relieved. He slept straight all that day. 8am I saw a doctor who agreed it was reflux, said they can prescribe Ranitidine (Zantac) but I would need to wait to see the pediatrician. Midday, no sleep I was on my way home. They advised to be careful of listenng to alternative medicine, I said hes booked in for a baby massage anyway but I would discuss with the doctors. He is to stay on the prescription milk and see how we get on. I got to the asda chemist, they didn't have any in stock and they rang around 5 other chemists who didn't have any. They said earliest Monday / Tuesday. Great, another sleepless night. Over the tannoy I heard my reg plate being called out and I got a bollocking for parking my car in the pick up area. I stood there and basically said "Look, I've been in A&E since 4am, I haven't slept since Friday and even then broken sleep, look at him he is 5 weeks old, I've come in here for meds, waited 50 mins in the freezing cold, you haven't got the medicine so I don't really care about a bollocking about where I should of parked my car, I didn't expect to be here for nearly an hour." They tried to continue to tell me off saying they had complaints so I said "Look, top that all off I get no childcare help, my Dad's dead I don't speak to my mum as I was in care, my husbands dads in remission from lukemia and hes full time carer for his wife who has altzeimers, and my baby girls teething and this little one is really poorly with silent reflux and colic, I really do not give a shit right now about where my car is parked." They were slightly more sympathetic and said they would let the complaints slip on this occassion but honestly I didn't care I was exhausted. 

At 7pm the colic kicked in again, and I rang A&E back to ask if I could give him calpol and the doctor who was on earlier who saw me said no.

11pm that night, with him crying hysterically again I rang 111 waited for a call back and rang A&E and there was another Doctor on who said ok for calpol. It settled him and he slept through the night for the first time in 4 weeks. I spoke to the 111 doctor who said it was ok for calpol on thier advice only for the following night if the medication didn't come in.... 

Persistance... 

Monday night, they had to make the Ranitidine up and I was walking around Asda waiting for it to be made up, giving my little girl some attention playing with the toys and walking around. The chemist said calpol and ranitidine was ok together.

I got home, he had his first dose and within 30 minutes he stopped squirming and has been a different baby since. His colic kicked in around 7pm as normal but it was no where near as bad so he had half the dose they allowed us, as I don't like pumping my babys full of meds, he slept through for 5 hours, and on the second night we noticed a massive difference again.

The colic isn't going to go, but that is manageable. I walk him around in a sling and he settles. It's the reflux that was giving him awful pain.

My tips on colic, walk them around and gentle tummy massages, also he likes the TV. Frequent burping and not lying in the same position too often. Colief though expensive seems to help.

Reflux Tips

Don't overfeed - acid overspills up the throat and burns

Trickle feed / small feeds / slow flow teats 

(I found the tiny infant cow & gate pre made bottles have really slow teats & I kept some from the hospital)

Keep baby upright as much as possible

Comfort the baby, it's in pain, talk gently

Get a dummy

Look up peristalsis. It's basically when you swallow, it contracts all the way through the gut and this helps aid digestion. The dummy will help promote swallowing.

Feed on the right hand side

Feeding on the right side gets the baby to lie on his left which is to do with how the stomach empties

Still as possible after feeds to keep the milk down

Don't pat the back to burp, let gravity do it's thing and sway / rock gently

Don't put the baby in a car chair straight after feeding

Once the milk has settled in tummy, put the baby in a sling upright to the chest

Swaddle the baby at night and keep warm

Prop the moses basket / cot at an angle 

 

Babys with reflux and colic need 24 hour care and love. Try not to get fustrated, it will pass and things will get easier. If you need to talk my number is 07581 043041