The Spewy Baby Story

Like many new parents it seems, I have been paying close attention to all things that come out of my baby and wonder  "Is this 'normal' or not?"

BB spews ALOT! I noticed this early on, and actually photographed a pile of sick that he brought up onto the changing mat to show the midwife when he was just a few days old. "Yes," I was told, "perfectly normal!".

A couple of weeks later I had the same conversation with a health visitor - once again, the same answer, "Yes it's normal, don't worry"

But the spewing continued, and as BB grew, so did the piles of vomit, and I did worry. At times he fired it quite a long way - projecting vomit across Tesco's, over the car, the floor... and me of course. He seemed to have a bit of wind and I thought that perhaps this was what made him vomit so. Perhaps if we could get the wind up he wouldn't spew so much. Having exhausted all physical methods, we then tried a well known brand of drops to help with this. But they only made the spewing worse, so we stopped this after just a few tries.

The first person to acknowledge that what we had here was not normal was my best friend who was visiting from Oz. As BB deposited the entire contents of his stomach over her and the floor at about 3 1/2 weeks old, she commented that was NOT normal.

Mmm, I thought not.

BB was gaining weight just fine, so I knew it wasn't a huge concern. I found on a website somewhere, something a little bit comforting - "...if your baby is thriving, don't worry - it's a laundry problem, not a medical one".  

Mmm, I'm pleased about that, but still - it's not normal... is it?

I started to wonder if it was something I was eating. So, I opened my awareness to that idea - it seemed that perhaps he was worse on the days that I ate lots of dairy. I was eating lots of yoghurt at the time, a quick, easy, healthy and calcium rich food that I could grab from the fridge between feeds, nappy changes and everything else that is the first few weeks of a newborn. I was also getting re-aquainted with blue cheese and brie - two of the things I missed the most during my pregnancy.

When I saw the doctor at our six week check up, he also said he thought it nothing serious due to BB obviously thriving. However, the fact that the vomiting was sometimes projectile could be a cause for concern. I had come across pyloric stenosis on google searches and so I knew this, though there were other symptoms with that that BB definitely didn't have... Anyway, the doctor decided that it was best to refer us to a paediatrician, just to be sure it was nothing serious.

We were given an appointment a month away, but a couple of days later we received a phone call from the paediatrician saying to come the next day. They thought it something they best check sooner rather than later. When we got there the regular guy had been called away and there was a stand in. She watched BB feed and spew, and asked how long it was since he last fed. It had been about 2.5 hours. She then said that the problem was that he wasn't hungry "babies should feed every 3 hours - you are feeding him too often, you need to get him on a schedule!" She then said that there were other ways that I could interact with my baby besides feeding him ( I was offended by that - like I don't!!!).  As she escorted me out of the room she called out to the receptionist "Hey, xxx, you have kids, what do you suggest this woman does to make her baby go 3 hours between feeds?" They hummed and haaahed, and then came up with giving the baby a dummy or water!

Quite upset, traumatised, offended and unheard I headed home. I started thinking about this idea of a 3 hour schedule. How could that work with our lives? we couldn't regularly feed at 12 because of swimming on Mondays, nor 1 because of baby massage on Tuesdays, nor 11 because of my exercise class. I quite like how our eating times fit in with our lives, developed based on when we are hungry and when we are busy. Still, I supposed I should try.

BB had other ideas though. When we got home I fed him, and told him that he had to wait 3 hours until the next feed. An hour later he was crying for more. I tried to hold off and let him cry, but after what seemed like forever (maybe less than a minute in reality) I gave in. Then again an hour later we played the same game. It was as though he was protesting and saying "No way" as he normally lasts at least an hour and half, often 2 hours, sometimes more. My mum and nan were here. We had a quick discussion about it. They both agreed he seemed hungry. I thought about the journey we had been on so far with this whole spewy thing. It had emerged that little and often was a far better strategy. As I thought back, the woman in the paediatricians office had really told me nothing, nor listened to anything I said. In fact it was like she had just walked in off the street. She even had to ask the receptionist for ideas (something which has been brought to my attention since is that this was misconduct due to breaking patient confidentiality). So, collectively we decided it best to ignore all that she said.

Still the mystery of the spewy baby continued. I gave up dairy for a while and thought it was better... Then a monster spew after days without dairy made me think perhaps I was wrong. I ate dairy again and it seemed worse, I stopped again, but the spewing continued... I discovered the hard way that "non-dairy" does not mean "dairy free". In fact, generally it seems to mean "contains lots of yucky additives made from milk protein" - they seem to be the worst offender. So, having become aware of all the hidden dairy I could now be really good... but still he would spew.

It seemed he was worse after feeding from the left boob than he was from the right... After a few days of observing that this definitely seemed to be true I became quite paranoid about my left boob. Was it making bad milk? Finally, in the middle of the night, during a feed, I googled it from my phone - would you believe this actually was the key to finding out what was going on.

Apparently babies with reflux are better when laying on thier left. When feeding from the left breast, BB was laying on his right. I googled reflux and came across this infant reflux screening quiz . This could be it! BB had several of the symptoms.

As the next few days went by, I noticed other things - he did have a cough, not related to illness. I had ignored this at first though he had a cold, and the Tracy Hogg book (grrrr! maybe more on that in a later post!) talks of a false cough when baby wants attention.

A few days after that we made it to Tummy Trouble where my diagnosis was confirmed. Finally we had an explaination, and some ideas of how to help BB. It turns out that sleeping with his head raised, as he had been doing in the hammock , and being carried in a sling are two of the best ways to releive symptoms - perhaps, along with his healthy growth, this is why it took us a while to diagnose what was going on. There were also foods that could cause the reflux response, which included dairy - but other foods, such as tomatoes and citrus were also common triggers.

Finally it all made sense. Several of the ocassions when he had been really bad were after he had been in the pram, laying flat. Luckily the pram we purchased can be tilted, so we did this making a huge difference. He may be sensitive to dairy, but not only dairy, there were other things too. He was a thriving happy spitter, and feeding little and often made sense.

I can't describe how much weight was lifted just by knowing what was wrong. I was comforted by the knowlege that it was nothing serious life threatening, equipped with some strategies to deal with it, and full of new ideas.

Just for the record, 6 weeks later (last Monday) we returned to the paediatrician, but only because I forgot to cancel the appointment.  Instead of the woman off the street that we met before we saw the real guy. The first thing he said was this sounds like reflux! He was great, really examined BB and checked other things while we were there, talked about differences between individuals, agreed with demand feeding little and often... it was like he knew something about babies!

Hello, and thanks for stopping by. My name is Emma and I am a lifestyle entrepreneur, writer, teacher, coach and mentor. I am passionate about eating real food, learning, travel and health. I get to spend my days with my amazing son who has chosen to learn from the world rather than at school. We write to share the life we love and to help others create a life they love too.

1 comment:

  1. Oh omg, that lady ped dr needs to change her job. My girls were so different in feeding habits, one would feed about every three hours the other feed like your baby more often. Glad you figured out that it a reflux thing and it something that is an easy fix, now you know what the problem is.
    Trust you own gut feeling always when it your child.