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Baby struggling at each feed, reflux? Help!

(44 Posts)
angelz Sat 29-Aug-09 13:48:25


I have just become a first time mum and whilst I am totally in love with our new addition, he seems so unhappy all day I am finding it very hard to enjoy these first weeks.

He is now 7 weeks, and pretty much since birth he has been crying on off all day and night. Every feed time is a struggle and in the past two weeks he is all but refusing to feed from me (was up until last week ebf, but have been topping up nearly every feed and am now considering swopping to formula as bf is such an struggle I just don't think I can continue). At first I thought it was just a bf issue, but after seeing lactation cons. who all say latch is fine, I am struggling to pin down what it may be.

Every feed he wiggles, cries, gurgles, and generally gets frustrated. He is SO windy, constantly farting, explosive nappies, and seems in pain as soon as he starts feeding. Even bottle feeding can take upward of an hour as it becomes a stop, cry, burp, settle, etc. In the day he does not sleep at all, only when put in the sling, walked and given a finger to suck.

It is really starting to get me down, I can't enjoy going to baby groups because he cries so much and I sometimes find seeing other mums with their fast asleep newborns a bit depressing. I am so exhausted and never manage more than 2/4 hours sleep a day - which I know isn't out of the ordinary but with his crying I just don't know what to do.

The doc suspects reflux (even though he is never sick) and he is on Gaviscon, but it is such a struggle giving it to him- when bf it was a faff, but now when giving it in a bottle, sometimes he graze eats so much he doesn't end up having the full dose but it does seemed to have helped a little - the manic crying is lessening.

I try to burp him a lot, keep him upright after feed, and carry him around constantly in sling (he never settles in chair, pram or anything other than sling) but still he looks so unhappy.

I adore him, but am worried about him .... especially as he has now started to make gurgling sounds, and has a slight wheezy cough.

He has been referred back to baby doc at hospital so hoping that will give us some answers, but would love to hear from anyone who has any advice or similar tales to tell..... so far I am finding motherhood very stressful!

Thanx u

JimmyMcNulty Sat 29-Aug-09 14:37:07

Hi angelz
Glad you have another dr appointment - it is really hard to pin down a diagnosis of silent reflux as when they don't actually vomit the symptoms can vary so much and many of them point to other conditions or to nothing at all!

Ds1 had silent reflux diagnosed at 12 weeks - we bullied our gp into referring us privately to a paed gastroenterologist as we were at the end of our tether and the gp had never heard of silent reflux. She was sceptical as the research that led us to the idea was on the internet and she didn't hold with such things!

I do sympathise with having constant crying - people used to talk about their baby's 'colic' that lasted a couple of hours in the evening and I would wish we only had double that! At one point I couldn't remember what his little face looked like when awake and not crying... I heard his screams in my head even when away from him.

I used to avoid baby groups too as it was too worrying to see what others' babies were like and I worried something awful was wrong with ds1. Anyway the day after the gastroenterolgist prescribed ranitidine and he had his first couple of doses, ds1 was like a different baby. We were doing all the other things like raising the head of his cot etc as well but it was the meds that really sorted him out. We took him off them a few months later and he had pretty much grown out of it. We had up and down days but nothing like before. In fact when he went to a childminder at 9 months she commented after a few days 'He's just not a crier, is he?'

If it is reflux, it WILL get better. When is your appointment to see the doc? Remember to write down every symptom you have noticed - ie does his breath smell acidic, does he have constant hiccups, 'wet' burps, choking etc.

thisisyesterday Sat 29-Aug-09 14:42:14

angelz, he sounds a LOT like my ds2 who turned out to be intolerant to dairy and egg, he was reacting to it via my milk and when i cut it out of my diet he improved dramatically.

it was just a thought, but if you're topping up with formula then maybe it's connected and it is a dairy problem or something? might be worth cutting out the supplements and the dairy from your diet for a couple of weeks to see if it makes any difference.

angelz Sat 29-Aug-09 15:33:04

Thank you for replies : )

We are seeing the doc next week hopefully and have been keeping a chart of his feeding, nappies, behaviour etc to take with me - seeing it in black and white is a little depressing though, makes me see just how eratic things have become! Have come across ranitidine in my many internet searches, and people do seem to rate it...... just hope we can find something that works for him - breaks my heart seeing him so uncomfortable for so long.

thisisyesterday - I did suspect dairy intolerance (after searching the web) and have not had dairy for about 3 weeks - he does seemed to have calmed a little but to be honest not enough to make me think that is the reason? I have been using lactase as well in his feeds (although doc looked at me very scepticlally (sp?) on that one). Also, things seem to have got a tiny bit better since I have been topping up, rather than worse which leads me to think maybe he is not intolerant>? But as ever, I feel clueless, could be intolerant but I just don't know.

Can I ask though - how did they diagnose our child as intolerant? I still think it is something I would like to rule out.

alypaly Sat 29-Aug-09 15:41:49

reflux can cause wheeziness if the regurgitation gets near his lungs. It causes a persistent cough in adults too, so it sounds as if he has got reflux. Persist with the gavsicon paediatric sachets. The doc can actually give Losec mups which are soluble omprazole tablets once baby is diagnosed.these are really good but should only be given short term. My friend had about a year of this but he was bottle fed and she had to go on to a completely different milk formula...i think it was pregestimil. He eventually settled but she was pulling her hair out as he constantly cried especially during and after feeding. dont despair it will get better....hope u have a good local paediatrician.

alypaly Sat 29-Aug-09 15:43:41

are you mixing bottle and breast...which formula are you using...

alypaly Sat 29-Aug-09 15:45:33

babies can also be lactose intolerant but that needs to be dealt with with your paediatrician as they can do lactose tolerance challenges in the hospital

angelz Sat 29-Aug-09 15:53:18

alypaly- yes am mixing bottle and breast as he started only feeding from me for about 5 mins and never seemed satisfied and always hungry - got to the point when he screamed on even being positioned near my breast (little disheartening to say the least!) We are using Aptamil1 at the moment and looking to swap to bottle feeding full time soon as despite all my efforts bf just doesn't seem to work for us - he seems especially uncomfortable after drinking breastmilk, expressed or from the breast and I have already cut out everything from my diet I presume could cause any problems.

alypaly Sat 29-Aug-09 16:00:37

personally i wouldnt mix formula and breast milk as at 7 weeks it will probably upset his digestion. just stick to one. If you think it is a milk intolerance try infasoy or wysoy formula or try one without the lactose. My friend found lying baby on his tummy across her knee with his head raised up helpful

ib Sat 29-Aug-09 16:14:06

It does sound like reflux. Ds had it as well as the dairy intolerance, and to be honest it only got better once he was on the drugs.

angelz Sat 29-Aug-09 16:18:51

Funny isn't it - before I had him I saw myself breastfeeding him till he was 100 (well,you know, at least 6 months) and shuddered at the thought of drugs, now I am swapping to formula and hoping there is a drug out there which will help him.......guess you just do what you have to?

At least if he is diagnosed with reflux, and or dairy intolerance we have something to work with - I find the not knowing the hardest.

Does anyone know of any problems feeding boys Soy based formula, heard a rumour it could affect fertility later in life??

alypaly Sat 29-Aug-09 16:28:18

i work in a pharmacy and have not heard this. If you are worried contact the company.I think its cow and gate and ask to speak to their medical information department if u r worried

posieparker Sat 29-Aug-09 16:41:50

3/4 o my dcs had reflux. The last two were really bad, screaming, arching backs, frequent feeding etc. TBH despite a few appointments only age made a real difference and early weaning, 16 weeks. By 7 months they were lots better but the constant crying leaves the mental scars that every time they cry it seems like they always cry, ifyswim. I would keep going back to the GP they can go swiftly up the meds.

thisisyesterday Sat 29-Aug-09 18:02:48

it's actually very, very unlikely that the baby is lactose intolerant.
if he was he would be FTT by now as he would not be able to tolerate breastmilk at all (as it contains lactose) and he'd be very ill.

persnally i wouldn't give up breastfeeding. it's the absolute best thing for him. formula doesn't have any of the benefits of breastmilk and if he is a bit unwell anyway then breastmilk is even better

why not wait and see what the paed says before you change his diet?

thisisyesterday Sat 29-Aug-09 18:06:02

i wouldbn't use any soy based formulas either, specially not with a little boy.

as you say, you imagined you'd breastfeed for a fairly long time. the problem with giving up when things are hard is that the things making it hard may be clouding your judgement.
and if, for example, he is dagnosed with reflux and meds sort it then you may wish afterwards that you'd carried on breastfeeding, but it will be very difficult to restart.

if you just wait until you've had your appt, maybe started medication if necessary and then you still aren't getting on with the breastfeeding then think about swapping to formula then?
i know from bitter experience how horrid it is to give up BF and then find out you didn't really need to, and it sucks. nearly 5 yrs on it still gets to me!

angelz Sat 29-Aug-09 18:49:01

I know - and i really want to carry on breastfeeding but he is not feeding from me? He fights my breasts, slips off and it is the biggest struggle ever! I am at a loss for what to do???

thisisyesterday Sat 29-Aug-09 18:59:48

hmmm, do you have a local la leche league group? or a baby cafe?
i don't have experience of feeding a reflux baby, but i know a couple of people online who have and although it has been a struggle they've done it, so it certainly is possible.

i does sound like it could be the problem and i suppose he has developed negative connotations with breastefedingg perhaps as it causes him pain?

can you try feeding him in a more upright position?

if it is reflux then the medication ought to help, so i guess i would at least carry on expressing just in case, and let him latch on as often as you can so that he doesn't refuse the breast once you have the reflux sorted.

will see if i can get some more info, hang on!

thisisyesterday Sat 29-Aug-09 19:02:27

a little bit of info here scrll down for the reflux bit

and a lot of links here from the LLL site

thisisyesterday Sat 29-Aug-09 19:04:10

the first link on the lll site is very good actually

PiggyPenguin Sat 29-Aug-09 19:06:56

My son did something very similar. At 8 weeks he would scream if I tried to position him to feed. He would feed for very short periods, if at all, and was obviously hungry. In the end the only thing I could do was to feed him when he was asleep, as he was then relaxed and able to tolerant feeding. I bf him like this for 4 months, and he then started feeding again happily when awake.

He is now 14 months old and a very happy breastfeeder. I can only assume that he grew out of the reflux which is why he came back to awake feeding. It was not an easy 4 months however, and needing to get him latched on as soon as he dropped off left me pretty much tied to the house.

I hope things get better for you, and you find a workable solution.

angelz Sun 30-Aug-09 08:30:05

Thank you all for your advice.

I think you are all right about continuing breast feeding, I just felt scared he wasn't getting enough calories because of his refusal to feed, but I guess it is all tied in with the suspected reflux and I would regret it when that calms down.

sybilvimes - last night I fed him while he was asleep for his 3 night feeds - worked really well! so will keep trying that. Can I ask, did your son sleep in a moses basket? - did you then pick him up and out to feed? Did that not wake him? Last night my little one slept next to me, and fed well, but personally I am not comfortable having him in the bed with us all night???

He refused to feed again this morning, as soon as we were both up.... does anyone have any suggestions? Should I express and then bottle/cup feed him with that?

thisisyesterday Sun 30-Aug-09 09:58:14

co-sleeping is very safe as long as you do it properly, and certainly helps with those night feeds!
i was too scared to do it with my first, my second was a scremaing little bundle who was up every hour or so all night and we ended up co-sleeping through necessity lol

as a mother you're very responsive to your little one during the night and when you hear stories of babies being smothered it is virtually always in conjunction with bad practices (ie, sleeping on sofa/one or both oparents having drink/drugs/smoking, pillows or duvets being involved)
when done properly co-sleeping really doens't pose a threat to your baby

Whiteybaby Sun 30-Aug-09 10:19:52

Angelz, I haven;t had any experience of reflux but my dd had a bf strike about 7ish weeks and again around 12ish weeks. Its the most horrid thing to want to feel your child lay they down to your boob and have them scream and act as though you are poisoning them sad. Like you ds my dd fed fine at night tho. i found that in time it did get better, i also fed with lots of skin to skin as was sure me getting so stressed affected her. also fed lying down but know this might not suit with reflux baby. also expressed and fed her with bottle to get better sat up position..have you got a pump? Might be worth trying. dd is now 6 mths and am very sad to be starting to stop bf.. never would have thought it as told everyone I was giving up numerous times up til about 18 wks. Take care of yourself and try not to get too upset.. its really hard this mummy thing!

anonandlikeit Sun 30-Aug-09 23:52:25

Firstly whatever you decide YOU are making the best decision for your family.
The only reason I say this is becuaes I was amde to feel so very guilty when I wasn't able to bf my ds's but really its not the end of the world.

DS2 has/had severe reflux diagnosed while in SCBU. The things that helped him.
Sticking to one feed (so i had to drop the bf, but not everyone has to i know).
Adding the gaviscon & then feeding him slowly, little & often. The hospital provided soem suitable teats.
Raising the head of his cot & then lying on his tummy after feed - opviously only if you are able to sit & watch - this should NOT be done at night or if you are not able to v closely monitor. In fact ds2 was on monitors so not such an issue for us.
Tummy massage, get your HV to show you how to do it to aid digestion.
A warm bath seemd to settle him.
Oh & me walking him around the streets for hours on end, just to keep him quiet between feeds!
Slowly, slowly it does get better. DS2 is 6 now & still has reflux but is able to tell us when he is in pain, it is so much worse when they are tiny.

PiggyPenguin Mon 31-Aug-09 18:38:16

angelz- yes he slept in a moses basket and picking him up didn't wake him. I also fed him during his naps throughout the day. It was a bit of a faff, but we managed to go 4 months this way. Hope this is helpful.

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