Like many expectant mothers, I spent my pregnancy looking forward to sunny summer days at the park. What I wasn’t prepared for was the reality of a newborn baby suffering with infant reflux. Instead of leisurely strolls with the pram, I spent nights pacing the floor with my screaming baby. Visits to the doctors seemed fruitless as we were prescribed medications that seemed to aggravate her even more. Suddenly it dawned on me; if none of the prescribed medicines were helping my baby, perhaps natural remedies were the answer? I was tired of feeling helpless when it came to my baby’s health and I wanted to take control back.
WHAT IS INFANT REFLUX?
The official term for reflux is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Babies who are diagnosed with reflux (and not all are straightaway, as symptoms are often mistaken for colic), have an under-developed esophageal sphincter. This means that when food is swallowed, the valve that is supposed to close, allowing food to enter the stomach, doesn’t work properly. Instead, food travels back up the windpipe, resulting in excessive acid travelling back up. One of the most common signs of infant reflux is severe arching of the back after feeds. Babies with reflux also cry- a lot - with pain, often sleep very fitfully and some experience excessive vomiting too.
NATURAL REMEDIES TO HELP INFANT REFLUX
HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES The remedy for reflux is Nat Phos. This seems to provide relief for babies suffering with reflux symptoms. Alternatively, if you’re breastfeeding you can take Nat Phos after each meal and the remedy will pass to your baby through your milk.
MONITOR YOUR DIET IF YOU’RE BREASTFEEDING Avoid eating foods that can cause distress to your baby. An elimination diet might be worth a try; cut out certain foods, and then add them back in one at a time and see if any of them bother your baby. Some common irritants include dairy, soya, eggs, peanuts, gluten, caffeine and spicy foods.
DRINK CHAMOMILE TEA This can help to soothe pain and relieve stomach discomfort when passed through your milk.
WATCH YOUR CARBS Studies have found that the esophageal sphincter is controlled by insulin and that putting patients on a low carbohydrate diet was a reliable treatment for reflux. It follows from this that sugar is the main culprit in the diet of a child who suffers from reflux. Try eliminating the excess carbs if you’re breastfeeding and monitor your baby’s symptoms.
ELEVATE BABY’S HEAD WHILE FEEDING Put a pillow under her head so that as she feeds, the milk goes down into her belly instead of staying up in her esophagus. Also try to keep baby upright after feeds and at other times, such as nappy changes and bathtime too.
FEED LITTLE AND OFTEN Symptoms can be made worse when baby drinks too much milk in one go, so smaller feeds more often may help. If you’re breastfeeding and have forceful let down, make sure to nurse in positions that allow her to have better control of how much milk she’s getting.
HAZELWOOD REFLUX JEWELLERY If you’re familiar with Baltic amber teething necklaces, this suggestion won’t seem like a stretch. Hazelwood necklaces proved to be very effective at helping to ease the acidity related to my baby’s reflux.
BABY WEARING Babies love to be worn and this can be a wonderful way for parent and child to bond. Choosing a carrier that allows her to be more upright with no pressure on the belly is ideal.
CHIROPRACTIC CARE Some babies may have reflux because they simply are out of alignment due to the birth process. Some babies have ridging in their cranial bones, and also have some misalignment in their palate which a chiropractor can fix.
For my daughter, natural remedies worked well to ease her symptoms and I felt that we were finally able to enjoy our time together.
Samantha is mum of three and founder of Mumma Love Organics (mummaloveorganics.com). She lives in Sussex.