What is acid reflux? Adults usually refer to it as heartburn. Acid reflux in babies, also called Gastroesophageal Reflux, (GER) occurs when the muscle at the entrance of the stomach, is not strong enough to keep the acids inside. This then leads to pain, and results in a baby spitting up a lot more than usual.
This problem is regularly dismissed as colic, fortunately nowadays we can actually do something about acid reflux.
Acid reflux is usually worse for around 1 – 4 months and stops between 6 months to a year.
Infant formula and some medication, including herbal MEDs, may cause acid reflux symptoms.
Swallowing of unnecessary air can cause acid reflux in babies; this usually happens when a baby is restless whilst breastfeeding. It is always a good idea to breastfeed Baby in a calm, quiet surrounding and to minimize distractions. Always feed your baby before he/she gets too hungry.
So, should a Mother continue to breastfeed, if her baby has GER?
Yes, she should continue to breastfeed. It has been found that acid reflux in babies, that are breastfed, is less severe and painful. There has also been evidence, that some GER babies who are breastfed, have no symptoms at all.
Breastfeeding triggers a movement in the gastrointestinal tract, that helps move food within the intestines. Breast milk digests much easier than formula, which therefore reduces the chances of acid reflux occurrence in a breastfed baby.
Another reason why breastfeeding is a superior option: babies that are breastfed, are held more upright when fed, which in turn keeps the acid down.
Thickening feeds to reduce stomach reflux is not advised, as it results in: increased coughing after feedings, it is less nutritive, it increases
the chances of diabetes in babies, increases the chances of infections and
can lead to a low breast milk supply.
Babies with acid
reflux, sleep better on their tummies, propped up at a 30 degree angle.
Acid reflux infants experience more pain when they are left to lie on their backs at
Carrying Baby in a breastfeeding sling, can help keep your baby in an upright position, near his/her source of food, as well as feeling comforted.
Change Baby’s diaper before feedings, as this will ensure less movement after a feeding.
Acid reflux babies should wear loose clothing, to prevent pressure on their tummies.
Avoid long trips in a car seat. The slouched over position can aggravate GER.
My Baby has Colic ~ The Importance of Frequent, Light Meals and Babywearing
Most colic issues are caused by oversupply and acid reflux. Both of these issues are amplified when a baby is fed large meals that are widely spaced during the day. Frequent, small meals will help to reduce colic symptoms. Babies who are carried in upright positions also experience less colic symptoms. Read more about wearing your baby and Kangaroo Mother Care.
The Soothing Magic Baby Hold
Also called the "colic hold". This hold has two variations. You can either keep your baby's back against your tummy or against the length of your arm. Both work well, you can try both and decide for yourself.
Using your left arm puts your baby on his/her left side, which is especially soothing to a baby with acid reflux.
Once you have your baby in this position, you can add some swaying motion.