Are you spending your days with your newborn, cleaning up mass posits of milk from the carpet? Doing so much washing because your baby constantly wears that sickly milk smell? Are you finding it hard to find something that really does make your baby feel better by stopping the behaviours of mass reflux? Perhaps you and your baby are at your wits end? Well, help is at hand.
Let’s start at the basics…
The Oxford Dictionary defines reflux as ‘the flowing back of bodily fluid.’ This can be experienced as a small amount of milk, or a projectile posset which is generally of a bigger quantity and delivered with more force. All newborns posset as a normal process. However, frequent projectile or large quantities of refluxing after the majority of feeds is not normal. It indicates feeding and winding practices need to be adjusted.
The behaviours of reflux include:
• The release of small or large amounts of milk – spilling or projectile.
• Varying textures of milk – clear or cottage cheese.
• Habitual swallowing of the burp (often called ‘silent reflux’).
• Irritability, grizzling, inconsolable crying, screaming, bloating, cramps, excessive gas.
• Heightened communication around and during bowel motions from excessive wind passing through the intestines, frequent frothy and/or explosive bowel motions, or constipation.
• Wakefulness from discomfort with episodes of longer periods of sleep, but the latter is often from exhaustion through crying and lack of sleep rather than feeling comfortable.
• Frequent searching for something to suck – exhibiting the ‘root reflex’.
• Weight gains may be at the lower recommended level.
• Arching backwards or sideways, writhing, wriggling.
• Pedalling legs.
• Gulping their milk, seeming very hungry while being restless – sometimes refusing to feed, pulling off the nipple or when bottle-fed, having flailing arms and legs with much turning of the head because of digestive discomfort.
• Hiccups – a newborn’s natural reflex for releasing ingested air. The more overloaded they are by wind, the more hiccups they experience.
• Blueness or darkness around the mouth, which will come and go. This can be visible above the top lip, under the bottom lip, or both simultaneously and can sometimes spread as far as the bridge of the nose between the eyes. This sign of wind is present for all newborns because all experience natural levels of ingested air. It becomes more prominent as wind accumulates to overload levels.
The causes that create the behaviours of gastric reflux and silent reflux are:
• unbalanced feeding practices
• retained air (wind)
• tongue tie
Unbalanced feeding practices include
• Feeding more milk than the baby’s stomach can manage. This is the biggest contributor to reflux.
• Feeding in quick succession – I define this as feeding every two to three hours or even sooner. This place pressure on the newborns system to cope with an overload of food, causing the refluxing and uncomfortable distressed behaviour including unsettled sleep.
• Feeding milk that is not appropriate for the baby’s digestion whether from the mother’s breast feeding diet or formula choice. Go here is you’d like more information about what foods are good to eat when breastfeeding.
When babies swallow air, which is a natural occurrence, it sits amongst and under the milk. This air, pushes the milk out, with or without the wind that created the posset. Alternatively, the retained air continues onward through the intestines and bowel for release which causes heightened communication. Currently, most newborns are not burped to their ‘optimum level’ for their age, with parents being largely taught that one to five burps is enough after a feed before their baby is ready to be settled down for a sleep. This leaves the wind to cause havoc for them.
Acid is often named as one of the causes of heightened communication, and this could play a small role as it can feel uncomfortable just as it can for adults however, if you want to heal reflux then it’s all about learning how to minimise wind in the stomach when feeding, how to release wind and to feed your baby to their digestive capacities and capabilities, or what I call Bio-logically Feed.
Tongue Tie is also a cause for reflux. When the tongue is attached in a limiting way to the mouth this can have the baby taking in more air as they feed, whether breast or bottle fed. Find out what tongues tie looks like and how to ascertain whether this is a concern for your baby.
Philippa is the founder and practitioner of BabyCues and the author of BabyCues – Nurture with Nature, Prevent and remedy colic, reflux, lactose and dairy overload, Nature’s logical answers. She is proving time and time again that there is a way to reduce if not eliminate these behaviours naturally for our newborns by teaching parents to nurture with, what she calls Bio-logical Care (Life-logical care). This focuses on nurturing alongside a baby’s natural digestive capabilities and capacities, along with parents being taught to read their baby’s cues, ‘Much of which are currently being misinterpreted,’ says Philippa. Go to www.babycues.info to learn more about Philippa or to purchase her book.