At about 6 weeks old baby Mackenzie changed and she was not happy. Gone was my dreamy newborn and in came a cat napping, angry, spilly, gassy, mucousy baby. She slept for 10mins in her bassinet before screaming in pain and exhaustion, I’d go pick her up and she’d immediately spew or burb, then cry the most miserable wimper.
I found that she’d sleep for 45mins or longer lying upright on my chest so I took to letting her nap on me and tried to rest when she did. It was awful, I stunk of spew and milk, it was summer so I was a sweaty cow at all times and I remember panicking when it got really bad and despairing that my life was going to be like this FOREVER (because I was a totally doomsdayer).
I really did try everything… Keeping her upright for feeds and offering sufficient digestion time to avoid spilling (and her subsequent screams of pain), colic powder, gripe water, Infacol, burping and winding techniques and infant massage, white noise, a dark room, a dummy, an elevated cot head and safety sleep and swaddling to try and settle her, but none of it worked. She’d get into this awful cycle where she’d have short naps due to discomfort so get overtired and be harder and harder to feed and then settle for sleeps. Some nights she’d cry for hours before finally passing out and I’d hurriedly eat something and try to go to bed to catch up on sleep before it all started again.
They were dark days.
When our Plunket nurse came for a visit I cried out of frustration and confusion at her behaviour – I felt it was all my fault if only I could nail the sleep and yet I couldn’t control anything or help the situation. She suggested that it might be worth taking her to the doctor to be assessed for infant reflux. That night I checked out a great website and almost wept with relief that I’d found a possible reason for her behaviour. Thankfully I’d written down all of her symptoms and she spilled then screamed her head off in the doctor’s office, and then again at a referred paediatricians office who agreed she was likely suffering from reflux (or GORD).
And so started a period of trial and error to get her symptoms under control. We trialled medicines, gradually increasing doses, and at the paed’s advice, looked very closely at my own diet. She advised that breastmilk was best for a refluxy baby, so long as they weren’t lactose intolerant, as it is digested faster than formula. She also mentioned that a lot of reflux babies are often affected by dairy, gluten, soy and nuts.
There was NO WAY I was stopping breastfeeding unless absolutely necessary so I started by cutting out EVERYTHING. I survived on oats, fruit, pea protein shakes, vegetables, quinoa and meat for a full two weeks. I then set about adding back in each food group for a couple days and monitored Mackenzie’s symptoms and temperament. At the end of a month long trial and error period I was eating everything but dairy. A few more tries at reintroducing it confirmed each time that it absolutely did not agree with her. I guess the good news was that it was dairy not lactose.
By three months old she was a beautiful, happy baby, even though her sleep wasn’t yet perfect. Totally different to the miserable, clingy baby of a few months earlier, and the dairy free diet has actually been easy to stick to!!
I’m reflecting on all of this because, as of this week, we have fully weaned Mackenzie off all her meds. A huge milestone for our refluxy bubba and totally crazy to think back to my feelings of despair and frustration at the “not knowing”.
If you are going through the same thing, it might be helpful to know that a typical day of food for me was as follows…
Oats (porridge or homemade granola with almond milk), fruit, coconut yoghurt
Eggs, mushrooms, avocado and tomato
And always a cup of lactation tea (yuck! But it must be done)
Salad with goats feta and tuna or,
Baked veges or,
Quinoa, greens, tuna or,
DF Protein shakes
Rice crackers and hummus
Rice wafers with avocado and sliced tomatoes
Dark chocolate (the darker the better, check that there are no milk solids in the ingredients list)
Soy or Almond milk lattes
Dinner remained unchanged:
I basically cooked without dairy and if my husband wanted cheese or sour cream, he’d add it to his own serving. Sure I missed spaghetti Carbonara but the baby is so worth it, and I haven’t gone back since I find that avoiding dairy has helped lessen my asthma symptoms.
What sacrifices have you made for your baby?
Any other mothers of reflux babies out there?