Thursday, June 16, 2011

Trust Your Gut When Seeking a Doctor.

My eldest son was a perfect baby for the first five weeks of his life.  He would sleep for four hours, feed beautifully.  I felt so blessed, it was so easy being a Mum, I was feeling so confident and I was really enjoying the whole experience.

Little Flynnie Bear with Daddy when he was newborn.
At about five weeks old he started to feed for a couple of sucks and then come off the breast crying, then attempt to attach again but change his mind and start crying again.  I had no idea what was going on, I had never heard of Reflux before, so I did the dangerous 'Google' thing and found all kinds of diagnosis from breast strike, to milk flow issues to Reflux.

I won’t go into the whole sordid tale of trapsing from one Doctor to another, to two different hospitals, being told "yes he has Reflux", "no he doesn’t", "it’s just your lack of confidence being passed on to him", "it’s just colic", "he’s a fussy eater" and so on.   

I will say however that us Mums are pretty intuitive and despite all of these comments and diagnosis, I knew it wasn’t me, I knew he was uncomfortable about something and I wasn’t going to stop until I found an answer.  

Plunket was a great help during this time, I went several times to the Parent Centre for the day just for support, to get some sleep and have someone to talk to.  It was actually quite valuable because I got to sit and listen to everyone elses problems and learn lots of different settling techniques and learn loads about babies.

After about a month or more of trying to figure out what was wrong, my husband was given a phone number of a Reflux specialist and we decided to give it a whirl, he was supposed to be the best in the country.  So off we went, he has a method where he presses on their stomach and can see if they really do have reflux or not. 

I can still remember the way my husband and I turned and looked at each other when he said, “Yes he definitely has Reflux”.  I felt so relieved (believe it or not) and my husband looked the same.  Finally we had an answer from someone who knew what they were talking about and we could get on to managing it.  We were given a prescription for Losec capsules which are way better than the liquid Losec that we previously tried.  The contents of the capsules are able to make their way to their tummy before dissolving and helps to reduce the acidity, whereas the liquid usually doesn’t make its way to the stomach in the first place.

Doctor Liang also told me the foods to avoid whilst breast feeding which are Avocado; Cocoa Bean products; Bananas; Green apples; Green Kiwifruit; Energy drinks; tea and coffee.  Based on my research I also went off Dairy; tomato based products; citrus; spices and I think that was about it.  Basically a cardboard diet!  I wanted to try everything to get out of this terrible situation I was in.  With my second son I was a bit more relaxed about my food and just went with what the Specialist said as I felt the other things didn’t really make a difference.

After being to see this Specialist I was so thrilled, I thought that was it, life was going to be fine.  Unfortunately it was not.  You see Losec just reduces the acidity, it doesn’t remove it, so because Flynn had quite bad reflux, it just lessened his pain.  Which meant that while he reduced the screaming he still had breast aversion, because he associated the breast with some pain. Some babies go on Losec and are beautifully behaved there after.  It just depends on the severity.

We did also take him for a Barium Swallow, to ensure that there wasn’t something else sinister going on.  I was not prepared for how awful this procedure is.  So be warned, there will be lots of screaming!  I couldn’t handle it, I had to pass the bottle over to Karl.  My poor little baby was petrified.

I found a few tricks to get him to feed, which were quite taxing on both my husband and myself.  I will talk about these tricks in a future post.  I will say though that it was really hard because we would have to put him to sleep to feed every single time, he would be hungry but it just hurt too much for him to bring himself to actually feed.  So putting him to sleep first was the only way we could get milk into him.

I had the added issue of have a large milk flow, so I had to lie down to feed Flynn (using gravity to slow down the flow), which as you can imagine is not what you should be doing with a Reflux baby.  They should be upright as much as possible to keep that acid down, to let their little throat heal.  But it was something we had to do so we did it anyway.  

This continued for nine months before Flynn was taken off the Losec and cleared of Reflux.  With  my second child, Chase, it went on for one year.  We noticed the Reflux creeping in at about two weeks old with him.  He wasn’t as easy to trick as Flynn either, he wouldn’t take the dummy which was vital with our ‘tricks’ for getting Flynn to feed.  And we also would put Flynn to sleep to feed him each feed, however Chase would wake as soon as I put the breast in his mouth.  So he was a lot harder work than Flynn.   

We also discovered with Chase an additional problem, that I actually wonder if Flynn had but we didn’t pick up on it.  Sometimes when babies reflux so much they lose the ability to swallow on their own (excuse my non-medical explanation!) so he also was given another medication to combat that which helped immensely.  

I also had breast flow issues with Chase so had to lie down for the full one year every time I fed him.  So as you can imagine, having to put babies to sleep for a feed as well as having to lie down to feed them, does not make me a contender for being an ‘on the go’ mum.

My two sweeties.  Chase (3mths) and Flynn (2.5yrs).
My message to you in this post is to follow your gut instinct as a mum and if you think there is something wrong, seek out a Doctor who will listen and given you the answer you know to be true.  Then trust them with your baby, do as they tell you, and know that your wee baby is in good hands.

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