Breastfeeding

(My story about breastfeeding a baby with gastric reflux.)

Gem was my third child, but the first with diagnosed treated gastric reflux.  I breastfed my first two children until age 14 months, and because of the risk of allergies in my family didn’t give them food that contained cow’s milk until they were one years old.

With Gem, breastfeeding was initially easy. She fed well, gained weight well and was contented. By three weeks of age she started screaming after a feed and arching her back. She would have been happy to feed again, but this would have only made her pain worse, so I would persist with her screaming for at least an hour.

As time went by breastfeeding got harder rather than easier. Please don’t stop reading at the end of my negatives of breastfeeding, as there are some positives included also. It is worthwhile and beneficial, and there are some tips to make breastfeeding easier further on. The negatives have been included to let you all know that you are not alone in your struggles, and to acknowledge that breastfeeding is not always easy. These are some of the things that we experienced:

  • Choking while breastfeeding resulting in her pulling off the breast and needing to be held upright so she could clear her airway, while my milk continued to flow everywhere because I was too busy dealing with the choking!

  • Screaming while feeding.

  • Having to take frequent breaks from breastfeeding during most feeds.

  • Not being able to relax and watch television while breastfeeding, let alone hear it!

  • Not being able to breastfeed and read at the same time. (With my first child I breastfed and studied for my state final nursing exams, balancing a lovely chubby baby in my arms and a huge A4 folder on my knee.)

  • Not being able to breastfeed anywhere I wanted, like I had with the other two, due to breastfeeding a wriggly uncomfortable baby not being discreet or quiet.

  • Arching her back, making breastfeeding most uncomfortable.

  • Taking any products with cow’s milk out of my diet and after 10 days of this having a totally different child!

  • Dealing with other people’s need to feed me when we visited, and me not being able to eat it because I was on a dairy free diet.  This was more of a problem for them than me.

  • Dealing with other’s comments that “a little cow’s milk won’t hurt”, when I knew from experience it did.

  • Giving Infant Gaviscon mixed with water/breast milk before feeding.

  • The resulting nipple confusion because we used bottles to give the Infant Gaviscon.

  • Not being able to feed in bed at night, due to her need to be upright, the likelihood of the bed being soaked, and the noise after or during a feed.

  • Wondering what had upset her that I had eaten.

  • At her worst when I had tried cow’s milk she was only able to breastfeed in the morning, and the rest of the day refused to feed for more than a minute at a time, and sat on the floor and grizzled due to hunger. At this time I had to supplement her with soy formula after a day or she would have dehydrated, and had to continue this until the cow’s milk was out of my breast milk (for us this would take 10 days).

  • It took seven days of me having dairy before she showed a reaction, and this was confusing. Somebody from GRASP (probably Rochelle) explained to me that this was possible/likely because cow’s milk seems to have an accumulative effect in breast milk.

  • Feeling guilty because I had mostly weaned her onto goat’s milk formula at 11 months but tried to retain night feeds thinking that the little dairy she would be getting in my milk wouldn’t be a problem, but not knowing if it was when she became unsettled.

  • Needing to feed in a quiet room without distractions.

  • When she was sore the best position to feed was upright with her facing me and legs either side of my body (not elegant).

So after reading that list I guess you are wondering if there are any positives. There are and these are the one’s I can still think of three years down the track:

  • Breast milk is more easily digested than formula, and therefore the stomach is emptier quicker and results in less reflux.

  • Breastfeeding is cheap, especially when half of it gets wasted.

  • Breast milk contains antibodies and therefore helps prevent babies becoming unwell. With a baby with reflux this is doubly important as any illness can cause reflux to worsen.

  • Breastfeeding in the middle of the night in the lounge during winter with the fire going, the lights dimmed and the radio on quietly. If you have the right attitude this can be a special time.

  • Spilled breast milk smells less than formula.

  • Breast milk is especially designed for human infants, and has everything they need.

  • Breast milk requires no preparation. Preparing formula and getting it the right temperature while a baby screams isn’t much fun.

  • I felt no guilt in buying special things for me to eat while breastfeeding and on a dairy free diet. Although soy ice creams, soy milk, goat’s feta cheese and many other products are expensive I would have spent far more on formula if bottle-feeding.

  • A dairy free diet is a good way to loose that excess pregnancy weight – I should go on one again.

  • Breastfeeding creates a special bond between infant and mother.

  • Breastfeeding means you have to hold and be close to an infant that may not seem particularly lovable due to their screaming and/or messiness.

  • Breastfeeding can be a great comforter to the distressed infant.

  • I found expressing milk for the times I wasn’t around much easier than with the other two children, and I think this was due to an extra supply I had, to cope with the extra demand at times.

Some other things I have learnt about breastfeeding an infant and particularly one with reflux that are important include the following:

  • It may be best to only feed on one side each feed, giving the baby less breast milk in volume and more hind milk.

  • It may be best to not have feeds too close together as this can increase pain. One recommendation is three hours from the beginning of one feed to the beginning of the next.

  • Some parents think (or are advised to by health professionals) that they should stop breastfeeding from the breast, and feed expressed milk in a bottle so that they can thicken it with cereal. This can lead to a decrease in milk supply and an exhausted mother, who not only has to prepare bottles and feed the baby, but express the milk also. This doesn’t leave much other time in a day. Breast milk is just as effectively thickened by feeding a little cereal (preferably rice – check the ingredients as some brands of rice cereals, contains milk products) from a spoon, before, during or after a breastfeed. The cereal can be mixed until smooth and runny with some cooled boiled water, expressed breast milk or formula. In some countries parents are using oatmeal to thicken feeds. This is not recommended in New Zealand, as it contains gluten and may contribute to an intolerance/allergy later in life if given at a young age. Intolerance to gluten may also increase reflux pain.

  • About one third of all babies with reflux will have a cow’s milk allergy or intolerance, and this can affect them through their mother’s breast milk.

  • Reflux occurs roughly equally between breastfed babies and bottle-fed babies. Changing from breast to bottle will not generally improve the problem.

  • The infant with reflux does not dislike their mother, or their mother’s milk!

  • You don’t need to wean……. however many times your relatives and friends tell you it would be best.

  • Look after yourself. Remember that you are important. If you are not happy and healthy, your family will not be happy either. If breastfeeding really is making you miserable don’t feel guilty about giving up, but do think about it long and hard first.

LLL also have a booklet entitled “Breastfeeding the baby with reflux”(L015 – $6). Available in New Zealand by contacting mailto:lllnz@clear.net.nz

Written by Roslyn Ballantyne (RN), National Coordinator for © Crying Over Spilt Milk Gastric Reflux Support Network New Zealand for Parents of Infants and Children Charitable Trust 14/11/2003. Edited August 2014.

This page may be printed for the personal use of families, as long as the copyright and source (i.e. Crying Over Spilt Milk’s URL) is also printed. It may not be copied to other websites or publications without permission.

  • I'm hoping someone here can share their experience with me as I'm at my wits end. My daughter is nearly 11 months old and has had chronic vomiting since she was about 5-6 months old (full feed vomits till there was nothing left, gagging, up to 9 times in 24hrs). After no doctors taking me seriously, and seeing 3 different doctors we finally got a barium swallow test done after taking her to the hospital out of desperation and it showed that she has severe reflux. I have accidentally eliminated gluten which has helped immensely but we still get 2-3 vomits a day. I'm waiting to hear from a paediatric doctor at the hospital for a follow up after the test but I'm just curious if anyone else has experienced this and what eventually helped? Or was it a case of managing it until they grow out of it? She was given liquid omeprazole a week ago but that only made it worse so i stopped giving it to her. Thanks in advance x

  • My sons 3 months, we've been in hospital his whole life but hoping to go home in next couple of days. He has liquad omeprozol via NG, i've heard that you have to pick it up from the pharmacy really reguarly be because once made up it looses it effectiveness quickly. How often do i need to get it made up?

  • This may need adapting a bit for infants and of course remember to think about allergens but some great advice: http://www.drlibby.com/stress/nutrients-herbs-help-children-calm-relaxed/?utm_campaign=December+Newsletter&utm_content=control&utm_medium=email&utm_source=vero&utm_term=Newsletter&vero_conv=365086097

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  • My 7 week old has reflux. We went to see the paediatrician yesterday and he gave us Pepti Jr to try. Im dairy free as still partially breast feeding. He also prescribed neocate as a back up. Just wondering on anyone's thoughts about pepti jr as have heard alot of people haven't had any luck on it.

  • Help please. Our 4 month old suffers from silent reflux, he's been on omeprazole for 2 months now. Initially we saw significant improvement (different baby!). Unfortunately, things have really started to plateau (worsen) over the last week. We have had 3 consecutive nights of holding him right throughout the entire night. Any attempt to move him from being held completely upright see's him wake within seconds and start screaming in pain. It's harrowing. We have been advised by our Dr to increase his dose to (20mg) he's currently on (15mg). I'm really concerned as I feel there's going to be nowhere left to go if he doesn't grow out of the reflux soon :( Has anyone switched medicine from omeprazole to something else with good results? Can anyone please recommend a good paediatrician in the Auckland area who specialises in reflux? We're feeling a bit gutted in this household as we thought things were under control but definitely not the case at the moment :(

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    Just for some fun. We can all relate to parts of this.

    These busy moms take some time out of their schedule and create a parody of Taylor Swift’s "Blank Space" that will have every mom relating to the sleepless nights and the need for caffeine the next day to keep going. All in good fun, these three moms from "WhatsUpMoms" will have you laughing at thei…

  • December 2014 Newsletter - It is on its way out to members.
    If you are on the old Yahoo Mailing List it has been emailed earlier this afternoon, but sometimes gets marked as spam so check your spam/junk folders for it if it hasn't arrived.
    If you are on the new custom emailing list (i.e. not Yahoo), we are sending from a new server...slowly...Currently at 136 of 235. Talking to the webhosts about how we can make this faster next quarter.

    If you should have received one and don't by tomorrow, please contact us.

    If you aren't a member and would like a newsletter, it is easy and free: http://www.reflux.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz/grsnnz-membership-confidentiality-agreement-form/

    Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ for Parents of Infants & Children Charitable Trust Membership & Confidentiality Agreement Form / Newsletter Admin Page First Name Last name Email Street Address City/Town Area Postcode Do you live in NZ? Country and Area if not NZ Home Phone (include area code) Part…

  • Help please! Miss 7mths was finally diagnosed with reflux 2wks ago. She was pretty god during the day, no spilling anymore, crying occasionally with what I thought was wind but must have been acid, worst was getting her settled at night, took a couple of hours. We started on Gaviscon and it was great the first few days, except neither Dr nor chemist told me of constipation side effect (still not sure if we have her constipation sorted). So last Friday saw the Dr and got omeprazole, at first it helped but have found I still have to give gaviscon at bedtime breastfeed otherwise she won't settle. Now I am concerned as I just saw on the forum a post about omeprazole in suspension not being as effective and this is what we have. Also saw the comment about giving it with milk so it isn't affected by stomach acid. Chemist told me to give it 1/2hr before her first breastfeed of the day, I usually manage to give it 15-30min prior to feed. Finding I still can't give her a breastfeed or water too close to a sleep otherwise she wakes crying (usually wakes and just chats to herself) after about 30-45min, this is worrying me with this Auckland heat and humidity that she isn't having fluids often enough during the day. Maybe this is still happening due to Omeprazole not working properly?
    Now I don't know what to do. I am not looking for medical advice as such but I don't know if I can believe the advice of the Dr and Chemist who don't seem to be very knowledgeable about reflux. Do I still give it suspension or ask for granules? Suspension with a feed or before? My other 3 kids didn't have reflux and I am feeling very lost

  • Has anyone's baby got worse with their reflux after taking Ompremazole?It seems my wee grand daughter is.Any answers would be grateful.Thank you

  • Hi Moms out there! I am in South Africa and my little girl has just turned 2 years last week!
    She was diagnosed with silent reflux about 7 months ago and is currently on Zantac. I am at wits end.. still wakes up three times a night and just can't deal right now. We feel like zombies since the day she was born. We must sound like terrible parents but the lack of sleep is unbearable and the sleepless nights are relentless. She is now eating only gluten free food but there has been no difference
    . Are there any parents out there experiencing the same thing... i am just so heart broken for my little angel! thank you

  • Time for a cuppa chamomile tea and a gingerbread star...whilst I work.
    What are you doing today?

  • Help! How long does omeprazole take to kick in? I thought I saw on here someone say that they had to use gaviscon till it started working but the pharmacist told me it should work straight away. Yesterday was miss 7mths 2nd day of omeprazole and no gaviscon and we had a terrible night last night, she was hard to settle and didn't sleep well. At 2am I gave her gaviscon and she slept about 3-4hrs which was blast nights longest stretch. Just wondering if the omeprazole isn't working at its full potential yet. Thanks heaps

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  • Gastric Reflux Support Network's page has got much busier and there are more posts to the page.
    Thanks to everyone who keeps on answering. I can't keep up, but it is wonderful to see everyone coming here for support.
    Roslyn, National Coordinator.

  • Has anyone used goats formula on their wee one with a dairy allergy? Am starting my twins on it today as one has dairy allergy and am exhausted from breast feeding so going to do a couple of bottle feeds per day

  • Hello. I read on the website that it recommends the NUK brown rubber teat pacifier. Does anyone know why in particular and where to purchase? Thanks.

  • A question on giving up dairy for relux please...

    Do you need to go 100% dairy free or does cutting back help? I drink ALOT of milk (ill go through nearly 4 litres a week, bit excessive). Can I still have milk in tea/a small amount of cheese etc, or do i need to go 100 % cold turkey?

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    Many thanks :)

  • http://www.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz/new-baby-on-the-way-taking-probiotics/ - New story from one of our Kiwi Health, Pregnancy and Parenting Forum users. Nice to have positive stories.

    Well I thought I would update you all on our baby. She was born on 24th August, the day before her due date and on my birthday. I was taking 3 x 2 caps of Probiotics per day in the last month of pregnancy which can seem excessive, but as I can’t overdose on them and I only get one chance...

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  • Anyone else dealing with older children with reflux would love to hear from you my Miss 11 year old seems to be having a relapse . So after nearly 4 years losec free in this household we have it back.

  • There have been some new posts - sorry I haven't had a chance to pop on over and answer. Can anyone share their experiences? Remember, no medical advice. :-)

  • As per my post yesterday, our membership form and newsletter archive for members is now available again.

    Please consider joining Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ for Parents of Infants and Children Charitable Trust for access to our Newsletters and Private Local and National Support Networks: http://www.reflux.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz/grsnnz-membership-confidentiality-agreement-form/ Membership is free, and this gives you opportunities to discuss gastric reflux related issues with others in a safe and confidential setting.

    Thanks to one of our amazing webhosts http://www.webmad.co.nz/ for the smooth change-over.

    Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ for Parents of Infants & Children Charitable Trust Membership & Confidentiality Agreement Form / Newsletter Admin Page First Name Last name Email Street Address City/Town Area Postcode Do you live in NZ? Country and Area if not NZ Home Phone (include area code) Part…

  • The website our membership form is on and where are newsletters are archived is down for maintenance until late tomorrow evening - Monday at the latest.

    If you were wanting to complete a membership form, please do check back as we would love to meet you. I'll post an update when it is available again.

    http://www.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz is available as usual although it the server it is on is changing tomorrow evening also - hopefully there will be no disruption.

    For infant and child gastric reflux support in New Zealand: Phone/Text 022 585 5935 Phone 0800 380 517 Contact GRSNNZ via email form GRSNNZ has brochures available which explain what Gastric Reflux is, a few simple tricks, the support GRSNNZ offers and our contact details. If you are Health...

  • A question please -my daughter has twin girls aged 3 weeks.They were premature born at 35 weeks 3 days.One of them is fine breastfed and sleep.However the other one grunts and groans,pulls her legs up and sometimes cries after each feed.She does not settle well at all.Could this be reflux or what.I know it's early days but my daughter is exhausted!!Any suggestions would be great.Thanks