Breastfeeding

(My thoughts and experience about breastfeeding a baby with gastric reflux.)

Gem was my third child, but the first with diagnosed treated severe GORD.  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 and was contented. By three weeks of age she started screaming after feeds 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. However, even with the difficulties, I found there were many advantages to breastfeeding. If you are struggling, you are not alone.  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.  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 do anything else at the same time e.g. read.

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

  • Arching her back, making breastfeeding most uncomfortable.

  • Taking all 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.

  • The resulting nipple confusion because we had 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 formula recommended by our paediatrician 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 “safe” 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.

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

  • Breast milk is easier to digest than formula, and therefore the stomach is emptied quicker and results in less reflux occurring.

  • 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, “safe 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 lose 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, but you need to be guided by your baby’s growth and your health professional’s advice – and of course the volume they have at each feed.

  • 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.  Discuss thickeners with your Health Professional (doctor, Well Child Provider or dietician).

  • 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.

La Leche League NZ (LLLNZ) has a range of helpful resources available online http://www.lalecheleague.org.nz/ and http://lllnzshop.org.nz/

The Midland Maternity Action Group have created a free app “BreastFedNZ” for iPhones and Androids to support breastfeeding. This has lots of useful information:BreastFedNZ

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 November 2015.

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.

  • Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ shared Linkage's photo.

    Thank you Linkage!

  • Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ added 2 new photos — in Canterbury, New Zealand.

    ...At this stage we have three registrations and are surprised we do not have more, and would like to understand why people who fit the criteria in Canterbury haven't registered.... Please respond if you are in Canterbury and fit the criteria. See below. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ The Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ has organised a series of four sessions called "Spilt Milk (Canterbury)" facilitated by the lovely Judy Arnold in Christchurch for those who have a baby under the age of one year who is unsettled or spills, and who would be interested in ideas to look after themselves and manage everyday life in a better way. This does include some practical tips on settling your baby, but the main focus is the parent. This starts next Wednesday morning and runs fortnightly, and is FREE. At this stage we have three registrations and are surprised we do not have more, and would like to understand why people who fit the criteria in Canterbury haven't registered. Was it the short notice, the day and time didn't suit (if so, when would), lack of childcare (please don't let that put you off), no transport (please register and let us know), not a first time parent (it doesn't matter - you still matter!), can't commit to all four sessions, worried about going out with your baby? Something else? Please reply to this post and let us know - or message us. Whichever you feel more comfortable with.

  • So true. Make some time today for you, even if it is just 5 minutes. #happiness #gastricreflux #gor #gord #infant #baby #gastricrefluxsupportnetworknz #cryingoverspiltmilk #child #family #reflux

  • Hi there im only new to all of this! My daughter is 12 weeks old and was put on losec and gaviscon last week, we have had issues with her vomitting up the granules, no matter what we try she just does! My gp has just given us the liquid form to try, my question is do we still give it to her half hr before a feed? Or can we give during? It dosnt say on the bottle

  • Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ shared Spilt Milk's event.

    Is there anyone with a child under the age of one year who is unsettled who would be interested in ideas to look after yourself? This does include some practical tips on settling your baby, but the main focus is you. See the event for details and please register using the registration form. This starts a week tomorrow and we don't have many registrations. Please register asap so we know whether it is worth continuing.

  • Try to relax and enjoy the little things this Sunday. #gastricreflux #gor #gord #infant #baby #gastricrefluxsupportnetworknz #cryingoverspiltmilk #child #family #reflux

  • I have an 18 month old son who had silent reflux. we weaned of gaviscon about four weeks ago. His symptoms for reflux were aconstant runny nose, cough and wheezing. For the last week he has had the above symptoms again. I have had him to the Drs and they have said just to give him his inhaler as he is wheezy. I have always had to fight to get the diagnosis of reflux. I was just wondering if anyone has weaned there child off gaviscon and if so how long would it take to symptoms to possibly reappear?

  • Spilt Milk (Canterbury) February / March 2016

  • Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ shared Spilt Milk's event.

  • We have been weaning off omeprazole and the most recent drop didn't work so we have increased again. How long until she's feeling herself and not in pain again?

  • My 10 week daughter I think is suffering from reflux. She doesn't spill alot however I notice she swallows back quite often. Latley she has been gaging. She has been in a lot of discomfort from about 2 weeks. I've been taking her to a chiropractor which I thought was heping but this last week seems to be back to her old symtoms. I'm just wondering about the medications people use. Do they work? She is gaining good weight. So I'm wondering do I just go another month and hope she grows out of it? or do I try the medications? I'm just worried they might cause trouble Down the track? I don't have a very good GP so no help there. Any suggestions would be great thanks ☺

  • #gastricreflux #gor #gord #infant #baby #gastricrefluxsupportnetworknz #cryingoverspiltmilk #child #family #reflux

  • Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ shared Patient's photo.

  • Had you noticed that this page for the Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ is a Verified Page by Facebook confirming that it is an authentic page for the Gastric Reflux Support Network New Zealand for Parents of Infants and Children Charitable Trust? http://www.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz

  • Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ shared Above Rubies's photo.

    Thank you to our previous National Coordinator for sharing this one. And in the words of Kelly from SmileDial our children might be a different kind of perfect.

  • Thanks Margot Kristensen for adding me to here we have a silent refulx baby we've been in and outa hospital for help and suport she's 8 weeks old crys frm the moment she wakes till any were frm 11pm or later I've tryed everything she has this day of screaming all day and then she's exausted the next day the pediatrician says there is nothing he can do and she is in pain were Goin to be admitted to mother craft in Hamilton as I can't rock her all day every day I'm exausted 2 any tips or advice pls

  • I have a 4 month old (5 at end of month) he's on omeprazol for silent reflux. He's started spitting his medication and I can't get him to swallow all of it. He gets distressed and this morning he vomited it all back up after gagging on it. He's had a flare up I'm sure cause he's not getting enough. I've asked GP for capsules w. Baby pear, but been denied cause hex too young. Anyone had luck mixing liquid with anything to get him to take it?

  • Hi We were prescribed gaviscon infant and told that it acts Like a plug keeping the acid down, b However I noticed on the crying over spilt milk site that there are two gaviscons used and that it is the other one that acts like a plug. My son is on ranitidine for silent reflux, which has helped but he still wakes up all the time from it and during the day will only sleep for about ten minutes before waking. Can anyone explain the difference between the two gaviscons? Also, is there any reason why my son sleeps better at night? Or is he just exhausted from not sleeping during the day? Thanks in advance for any advice

  • Please check the posts to the page and help out on a recent question if you have ideas for helping keep a young baby upright.

  • Hi there, I have a little 3 week old baby girl who we have just been told has reflux. It causes her a lot of pain and because of the reflux her windpipe gets closed off for an extended period of time with the milk/acid going up and down causing her to go bluey or purple which is very scary. She needs to be held 99% of the time because when lying her down it causes a lot of pain and also causes her to be sick out her nose and mouth. She has been started on gaviscon at every feed which seems to be helping with the "choking" episodes but I still need to hold her all the time. I am wondering if anyone has had any good slings or has any ideas that may help to keep her upright and comfortable to sleep etc. for both me and her. :)

  • Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ shared Patient's photo.

    #understanding #havebeenthere

  • Our daughter has had reflux since about 5 weeks & she is now 7 and a half months old. She will sleep 12 hours and wake to have 30 mls. She has small amounts often throughout the day and cannot handle anymore than 80 mls which is few and far between. She also has solids 2 - 3 times a day. She is also still on newborn teats and we try all the time to go up but she cannot handle the flow and wont drink at all. She is now a good size and looks healthy but only because I am constantly feeding her and also have a 4 year old who has gone backwards in her behaviour and toileting because Miss 7 1/2 months is so time consuming. She is under a pediatrician, on Ranitidine 3 x a day and is booked in for a barium swallow on the 18th of this month. Has anyone else had/have this issue?

  • #gastricreflux #gor #gord #infant #baby #gastricrefluxsupportnetworknz #cryingoverspiltmilk #child #family #reflux

  • Our seven week old baby can sleep for hours vertically in our arms, but wakes when in his back. When he is sleeping on his back he often makes a sound which sounds like someone clearing their throat, it goes on and on and eventually he wakes up. He doesn't spit up, but often has white on his tongue. He also grimaces a lot in his sleep. Does this sound like silent reflux? I'm especially keen to know if anyone has experienced the same type of noises in their baby. We have a doctors appointment on Tuesday.

  • There is a post to the page about settling babies with Gastric Reflux to sleep.