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Thread: Reflux & feeding

  1. #1

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    Default Reflux & feeding

    Before I post I just want to say that I don't want this to be turned into a breastfeeding vs formula feeding thread. I'm posting my observations & wondering if anyone has seen the same thing. I'll have the thread locked if it starts up a debate.




    Alexzander was bottle fed from a few days old due to my milk not coming in. He had reflux that cause him so much pain & he spent much of his early months crying in pain & fighting being fed. He'd throw up after most feeds & it would clearly be hurting him every time. He was put on Losec & we finally got him weaned from it at around 12 months old.

    Juliette is breastfed & is a very calm baby. I suspect she has reflux as well, the difference is that it does not hurt her. She throws up after most feeds like her brother, but is fine with it in that it doesn't seem to hurt. She doesn't do the back arching or any of those things, but clearly she vomits far more than what would be expected for a non reflux baby.

    So that got me wondering..... Is the difference in the way that they are fed? We're not doing anything different that I can tell other than what they are eating/drinking. Is breast milk gentler on their stomach making it less painful for them?? Or is it just a coincidence & Juliette doesn't have as serious a case of reflux as Zander even though she is more spewy than he was?

    Has anyone noticed the difference between reflux in a breastfed vs formula fed baby?

  2. #2

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    Sarah, I think it could just be as simple as them being two different kids rather than it being solely about the way they were/are fed. Naturally BM is much easier to digest than formula is, but reflux doesn't seem to discriminate between the two from what I have seen - you can give thickened formula to help stop the vomiting, but they can still be in pain from it. It could be that she is just a 'happy chucker', which is still reflux, but it isn't reflux kwim? Even when my older three were BF in the beginning, it didnt change once they were on formula.

  3. #3

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    I really think it is the individual baby. Juliette may not actually have reflux, some babies are just more "chucky" than others. My first DS was breastfed at first and he would chuck heaps, but didn't have reflux and was perfectly happy. I think the term is "happy chucker"!

    My second DS is breastfed and he doesn't chuck nearly as much as DS1 did, but he did develop reflux at 3 months. He would scream and arch his back when I tried to feed him and he would wake up in the middle of the night screaming in pain. So I wouldn't say formula is worse than BM from my own experience.

    DS2's reflux disappeared after a trip to our paediactric chiropractor, he is a miracle worker!

    Glad Juliette is a nice calm baby for you

  4. #4

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    I have a "happy chucker".
    But he doesn't chuck a lot.

    My sisters on the other hand, had painful reflux when they were solely on BM and now that they are comp fed, they are "happy chuckers" too.


    I don't think this really answered your question, i'm just throwing examples *scratches head vaguely*

  5. #5

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    OK, this is a bit tainted with my own experiences and those of others around me but......every time I see a reflux baby now I consider whether or not its a cows milk allergy. Could it be that your kids do have a cows milk protein intolerance as babies and Juliette gets very little from you through your milk, but Zander got a whole whack of it through the formula?

    K still refluxes when she has something with milk in it, she had some girl guide biscuits yesterday and has been refluxing ever since, but she generally has a dairy free life (as do I) and no reflux at all. It bothered her the most with the burning and such when I had heaps of dairy in my diet, then we went through the real shocker colic days *shudder*.

    Just a word of warning though Sarah. From my experiences with three refluxy bubs, it *seems* to be harmless happy chucking until about 3 weeks old, then it turns nasty. Has happened every time. My guess from my kids is that it takes the system that long to work up to critical mass. So either if its caused by allergies it takes the body that long to reach the point of 'no return', or if its run of the mill reflux, it takes the stomach acids that long to develop the qualities to start to burn.

  6. #6

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    Just so you don't feel too afraid Sarah, my DS1 was a happy chucker and it never turned into reflux.

    But I agree with River that it can possibly be a sign of a dairy intolerance. The first thing the paediactric chiro asked me when I told him DS2 has reflux was whether I have a lot of dairy in my diet. He tried to get me to change to goats milk, I tried it once, yuck! I don't have much dairy though so I don't think it was a problem for us.

  7. #7

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    Bleugh on the goats milk *yuck*. Rice milk is nicer .

  8. #8

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    Sarah, my bubba Caitlin was diagnosed with reflux pretty early on and I was told to give her mylanta which worked a treat and she became so much more comfortable after taking it. At that stage I was feeding her expressed milk via a bottle. She has always been a big chucker so we had many feeds where she was really uncomfortable and I felt really bad for her.

    It got worse when I introduced a formula bottle for some of her feeds (I think this was because of the different consistency between EBM & formula) but for the last 2 weeks I have cut out the ebm feeds and am now only giving her formula and she has not suffered after 1 feed so far. I am not sure about the whole dairy intolerance thing but I do drink a lot of milk which may explain why she was worse on the ebm but the formula I am using is cows milk based and she has no problems.

    I don't think it matters whether it is breast milk or formula, I think it comes down to the individual bubs tummy!

  9. #9

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    Zander was tested for cows milk allergy & he definitely doesn't have one so it wasn't the case with him & he also had reflux from the start.

    So it seems like it's just a different baby thing, not a formula / breastfeeding thing. Very interesting.

  10. #10

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    There is no test for a cows milk protein intolerance, allergy yes, but not intolerance. And the allergy testing is not reliable until they are 3 I think (was he done recently or when he was a baby?).

    With an intolerance, it is observation mainly which tells you it is there. Most of the symptoms most people just put down to being just one of those things, whereas it is a food intolerance. It's amazing how many humans are intolerant to the proteins from a cow, the human body just isn't designed to process it.


    Symptoms ofUnlike a food allergy (which is triggered by small amounts of food and causes immediate symptoms), food intolerance symptoms appear hours, or even days, after consuming your problem food.

    Common symptoms include:
    Irritable bowel syndrome
    Joint problems
    Migraines
    Muscle and joint pain
    Depression and anxiety
    Fatigue
    Nausea and vomiting
    Ulcers and hyperactivity in children

    Most people are intolerant to more than one food. The commonest culprits are wheat, dairy products and yeast, eggs, beans, nuts, tea and coffee.

    Food intolerance can be caused by enzyme deficiencies, viral infections, allergic reactions and disturbances of the body's normal gut bacteria.

    Eating large amounts of a certain food, spicy or processed foods, drinking too much alcohol and exposure to toxic chemicals may increase the risk of developing food intolerance.

    The standard way of diagnosing food intolerance is eliminating suspect foods from the diet for several weeks. If the symptoms ease, foods are reintroduced individually and the effects assessed - a qualified dietician should supervise this. This process is called an elimination diet and can be hard going, but the results are well worth it.

    Many alternative therapists offer treatment for food intolerance. Although they may be helpful, none of these methods have been clinically validated - if in doubt ask for evidence of clinical trials.
    In babies, a cows milk protein intolerance can cause symptoms of behavioural disturbances, sleeping issues, colic, reflux, sloppy frothy poo and skin rashes.


    All babies are different, lets hope Juliette stays a happy chucker for you .

  11. #11

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    Default Happy chucking and breast-fed.

    Jethro has been a happy chucker since pretty much day one, and he is now five months old. We are fairly sick (pardon pun) of the constant splats onto the floor or gushes down his and our clothes, but really, that and the steady stream of laundry required is the only issue. He is breastfed, by the way, and has just started the solids exploration in the last week, which just makes for orange, pumpkin-y spews. He has gained weight steadily and well, feeds happily (possibly too often...I think I need to cut him off a bit sooner rather than let all this comfort feeding take place which seems to overfill him) and has always been a happy kid. I've had a few mums ask me, with slightly horrified looks on faces at the sight of his torrent of spew, if he is on medication, but never has a Maternal & Child Health nurse or GP suggested this is required, and I have always been up front about his vomiting. I might double check at his next nurse appointment if it is still considered normal, but I really don't want to go putting him on meds willy nilly if he is happy and gaining at a healthy rate. I would love it if the reflux (as I call it, but not, I think, in the medical sense) stopped tomorrow, but whatcha gonna do? Keep the washing machine going I guess!

    I'm curious who else out there has a happy chucker and feels the same as me...do you feel pressured to be using medication by some people, but feel it is unnecessary? Also, I have never made any connection between my diet and his chucking, bu I am going to try cutting out tomatoes, citrus, spicy and fatty foods for a week to see if there is an effect. Ironically, these (apart from fatty foods) were the flavours I craved most through my pregnancy, so I don't know if I have created an acid issue for him from in-utero...I would have hoped it would have made him more resilient to those flavours.

  12. #12

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    I haven't read everyones posts, but thought i would add a story of mine

    DD#1 was what I call a happy chucker She would vomit EVERYWHERE!! It was so very frustrating, but she was a happy baby who had no trouble sleeping... she was FF from about 5 days of age

    Weird isn't it

  13. #13

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    Breast milk digests more quickly than formula, so it can help reduce the pain associated with reflux because there's less milk sitting in their tummy regurgitating back up into their oesophagus. Most of the websites I found reflux information on recommended continuing to breastfeed reflux babies for this reason.

    My babe was a combination of exclusively breastfed (5 weeks), combination breast/formula fed (3 months), and exclusively formula-fed (from 4mo until now). His reflux started out 'silent' ie there was no vomiting, but lots of screaming, arching, breast refusal etc. It progressed to regular reflux, where he was vomiting 8-10 times after every feed. The vomiting didn't stop until a couple of months ago when I switched him to soy formula. For him, it didn't seem to matter whether it was breastmilk or formula - it still hurt!

  14. #14

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    Sarah, this is my experience & thanks to a pure genius Naturopath I have a happy, healthy, once again placid baby!!!

    Maddy was FF fed from 7 days of age & vmited a fair bit after each bottle, but she slept & was the happiest baby ever!!!

    Indah was breastfed & didnt chuck, didnt arch her back, didnt have any reflux signs & started sleeping through at about 18wks & then it was kinda hit & miss but was fairly contented!!!

    Zyon... Was ok til bang on 3 wks he started arching his back & screeching, screaming & thrashing about in pain... Not 1 medical person believed me including paeds at RCH, they just asked stupid questions (is he your first, are you eating foods that cause him wind?? etc) after spending 7hours there & have 3 nurses take his temp we were sent away by the paed telling us that my breastmilk was BAD for him? Or he was lactose intol??? I was crying & asking how she would determine this from ONLY taking a babies temp (he was 5wks old).. Then I saw MCHN, Dr's etc & ALL told me he had a TEMPER/BEHAVIOUR issue??? WTF... he was 5-6wks old at this stage & sleeping 15mins every 2 hours & screaming the rest!! 24/7, he was so exhausted, I simply held him in the HAB 24/7!
    I took all dairy out of my diet & ate VERY BLAND foods which is difficult for me, but I was prepared to try it all.
    I then called the midwives where I had Zyon & she told me it was silent reflux & he showed much improvement on gaviscon...
    I dont like to medicate for no reason/proof, but as we were going overseas I needed something to help him...
    The Gaviscon & Zantac allowed him to sleep 3hourly whilst we were away, plus he still spent most of his days in HAB.. Upon return home the meds stopped helping & again we spent days at Hospitals, Dr's etc... (they still said he was badly behaved & needed sleep school, but I knew my baby was in pain)
    Finally at about 9mths someone suggested a naturopth, we saw him & he immediately told me to take him off all the Zantacs, Gaviscns etc as these dont fix the underlying issue & I explained I didnt like medicating a baby, plus it wasnt working!
    He sent Zy off for blood tests & changed his diet, I kid you not within 5 days Zyon slept 2 hourly twice a day & 12+ hours EVERY NIGHT!!!! zyon isnt allergic to ANY foods but has INTOLERANCES to DAIRY protein (totally different to lactose intol, or dairy allergy, the gut cannot breakdown the protein in dairy, Rice Milk is the way to go...His stomach was basically raw from the meds he had been givemn & his natural guts acid was all wrong, so once he balanced this with a vegetable base enzyme, Zy is just a pure delight)
    We have had 3 appt's today being the last & Zyon simply will have a sensetive gut & although he will be able to have dairy, nuts & whaet (the 3 things we took out of his diet for a period of time & slowly introduced) he can have these without issue now as his gut has repaired... He has to avoid drinks WITH meals & drink watered down apple juic 15mins after meals so as not to upset his gut... But NO MORE NAST MEDS & we have a happy baby!!!

    I cannot recommend him highly enough Peter Alley is his name he works on Mout Dandenong Road in Croydon!!!

    He was a corporate business man til his 1st born cried & arched her back, he realised then his baby was TRYING to talk to him... So he gave up the corpoate world & has studied naturopathy ever since & is a amazing man... I could call whenever & he would also call me to see how Zy was... EVERYONE has noticed the change in Zyon & I am thrilled to have a happy baby!!!

    I think all babies guts are different & breast or bottle can cause reflux!!!

    Sarah I hope she doesnt get worse... It was the hardest thing I've had to deal with as a parent!!!

  15. #15
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    Default To Tracey

    Wow. My daughter is now just over 2 months old and since birth has had problems feeding. She wouldn't attach to the breast so subsequently I pumped for 5 weeks only to give it up as it really done my head in (7 - 8 times a day for 30 minutes each). So, I then began the long stream of formulas as my Maddy (Madeline) had a silent refulx which caused her to choke - to the point where if I wasn't watching her ALL THE TIME she could go blue without notice. I am sure the doctors thought being a first time mum I was just hyper-sensitive etc etc and I also have heard that she is extremely active and has 'attitude' etc. And, yes she is active but has a very special stubborn side too!!!! So, I have tried every formula and am now on Karicare De-lact and thickening it - tho I don't believe she like the formula the doctor doesn't want to switch again. I have tried gaviscon which made the choking worse and have been using Zantac now for approx 2 months however in that 2 months Madeline has decided she doesn't like to drink much and sometimes not at all. I am about to try Zoton which I too hate switching meds as I wonder what happens when we do take her off them. Perhaps I need to find a Natropath and go the alternative way? I might add that Madeline was doing the 'choking' thing when she was breast fed too. My paediatrician said "It's probably reflux and lactose intolerance.... She'll grow out of it".... That might be but at what point does insanity take over. A month ago I went to Tresillian at Canterbury and found it FANTASTIC. The nurses were angels and knowing that people understand and are compassionate to your situations made me feel great again! We have a 'routine' now and even tho the reflux is not any better, I can handle Madeline's tiredness and I know her tired and pain signs. Tho, 12 + sleep per night would be GREAT! Having said that, I am going to take your belief in the Natural Alternative with me and hopefully get the same results you have! Thank you!

  16. #16

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    Zedd - I have a 4mo 'happy chucker' just like you. It is driving me insane!! I don't feel any pressure though to medicate - I actually just feel like noone will listen and offer me advice. I don't want to medicate my daughter, I would just like to hear some things to try other than 'she will grow out of it'. She is exclusively BF and I have been holding on to 6 months for things to get better when starting solids - then I read the post here that said she might just continue spewing up food - oh no!!

    The worse thing is not the constant washing for me (or splatters on the floor) but the bib around her neck all the time that she is awake and that whenever I hand her over to people for a cuddle, I have to say "careful, she might spew on you" and inevitably she does. It makes me feel bad and that they don't get to appreciate her for what a wonderful baby she is.

    Like you Zedd, I also think I have been over-feeding her and she is big (she is 7.3kg at 4 months) - I have moved to 3 hourly feeds from 2 hourly feeds for the last month but it hasn't made any difference to her vomiting and I can't stretch her any further at the moment (unless she has a really big sleep).

    The poor Child Health Nurse I saw on wed ended up causing a major break down about Charlotte's vomiting. I went to see her about a rash she has under her chin from the constant wetness (from constant spewing). She said to try nappy rash cream but the best thing was lots of tummy time so that it has the chance to air dry - DD spews constantly when on her tummy - down came the tears!!! She said I should go to a paediatric gastro-entroologist (sp) - and that he would give her some anasthetic and do an endoscopy and that was the only way to know for sure if it is reflux - is this true!!! I was really put off by this because it seems like a very invasive thing to do to a baby!! I think I will just ride it out.

    Am also considering eliminating dairy from my diet - DD definitely has good and bad days - maybe this is related to a dairy intolerance?? Worth a go anyway.

    I am glad to hear that there are lots of 'happy chuckers' out there.

  17. #17

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    Sarah, I haven't read any responses, only your opening post, but I thought I would add my experience

    My DS suffered from reflux as a baby. He was BF and topped up almost from birth. Sometimes his top ups were EBM, sometimes they were ABM. Without a doubt, his reflux wreaked alot more havock when he had had formula. It was VERY easy to tell that it was the problem. We did try him on a LF formula (at the LCs suggestion), but it made no difference. Gaviscon in the formula helped somewhat.

    So yes, based on my one and only experience of feeding a reflux baby, I would say that artificial milk can definitely make matters worse.

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