Living with Silent Reflux – ‘Resident Blogger’ Hannah

hannah reflux 1Resident Blogger and all round lovely lady Hannah is new mum to Toby, now three months old. Poor Hannah and little Toby have not had the easiest of times unfortunately, as Toby has been suffering from a condition called silent reflux, where a baby’s stomach contents come back up their oesophagus but they show no sign of vomiting. It can cause tremendous pain to the baby, and a lot of upset and anxiety for mum, as Hannah explains in her latest post here.

Hannah blogs at www.buddingsmiles.co.uk

Anyone who reads my blog and/or follows me on Twitter may well know about my son Toby’s diagnosis of silent reflux. He was diagnosed at 6 weeks old and now at 13 weeks, I feel it’s time to write about our experiences so far.

The first few weeks of Toby’s life whizzed by in a blur of sleep deprivation, figuring out breastfeeding, scheduling visitors and snuggling our new son. Looking back, he was never a truly settled baby and try as we might with the Moses basket, Toby would only sleep in mine or his Daddy’s arms. By about 5 weeks it was very clear that he was more unsettled than other babies; as we ventured out more and met up with our NCT friends and other new parents, Toby would cry constantly unless being fed or bounced whilst their babies cooed and slept. Still, neither the health visitor nor GP thought anything was wrong at the scheduled checks so we just carried on.

Things became really tough quite quickly and soon Toby was pulling away from my breast screaming, arching his back and going almost rigid. It was horrible to see and it felt like a personal rejection to me. I was told to work on my latch but I knew that the latch was fine. One day, I noticed Toby’s tummy gurgling during a feed, then he pulled away and sounded like he was going to be horrifically sick but nothing came out. When this had happened a few times, I called the health visitor and she immediately said it was silent reflux. It was that simple!

hannah reflux 2I had a phone consultation with a GP and Infant Gaviscon was prescribed, but after a few days of even more screaming – we’re talking 10 hours a day – alongside constipation, we stopped the Gaviscon as any possible benefits were totally outweighed by the terrible pain he was in from constipation. I called the GP back, ready for a fight, but he immediately got us an appointment and prescribed Omeprazole.

Seven weeks later, we’ve had good days and bad days; the Omeprazole does seem to have helped and since, Toby’s also been put on Dentinox for colic. On the bad days, Toby has cried and screamed for hours on end and I won’t sugar coat, I too have cried very many tears. I have told myself repeatedly that if silent reflux is as bad as it ever gets for Toby then Phil and I are very lucky, but when you watch your son screaming in pain and crunching his legs up, unable to open his bowels or have a full feed then it’s heartbreaking.

As the stress took its toll I accepted that I couldn’t keep exclusively breastfeeding because it meant that I couldn’t have a break, allow Phil or our families to help out on the bad days so that I could rest. Some people continue to feed no matter what and I commend them, but I felt incapable of being the best possible Mummy to Toby if I was an emotional wreck. We began combination feeding during our family holiday a couple of weeks ago and that was a huge turning point. With shared responsibility at night and on the weekends, I can have a bit of time to breathe, to reset my head and to go back in with more strength to help Toby through this.

Whether it’s the feeding, the elusive 3 month mark, the medicine or complete coincidence, Toby does seem a lot better. Toby now sleeps better, smiles more and is developing at an amazing rate. Sometimes he cries, he is a baby after all, but the frequency of the gurgling tummy has reduced and Toby seems so much happier. Phil and I obviously don’t want Toby on medication long-term, but for now things are working and I think we’ll wait until weaning commences (which I’m so excited about!) then speak to the GP and figure out a course of action.

hannah familyFor any parents reading who are experiencing the horror of reflux, please do accept help, fight if doctors won’t listen to you and take each day as it comes. I hated it when people told me it would get better, but it truly is doing and I feel like the Mummy I was born to be, with a perfect, beautiful, smiley son who I love to the ends of the earth.

I’m doing a reflux series of posts on my blog, the first of which was my very first vlog, so please have a read and do get in touch if you want to chat.

Follow Hannah on Twitter @BuddingSmiles

Find out more about reflux and silent reflux from the NCT website

Coping with severe pregnancy sickness – ‘Resident Blogger’ Susanne

RB pic - SusanneIn her first post as a Blogs For Babies Resident Blogger, the lovely Susanne tells us her experience of severe pregnancy sickness, and gives her top tips for getting through what can be a debilitating and exhausting condition for lots of expectant mums.

Susanne is currently in the second trimester of her 4th pregnancy. Read more about Susanne and the other Resident Bloggers here.

Susanne blogs at ghostwritermummy.co.uk

I knew I was pregnant before I even took the test, and it wasn’t just a faint niggling at the back of my mind. It was a constant gnawing and nagging nausea that gave the game away this time. By six weeks I was a wreck, vomiting pretty much all day and suffering terrible nausea in between. I dragged my sorry self to the GP with the toddler under my arm and announced that I was with child, and not feeling great. At this point, I expected a little sympathy and a lot of empty advice, such as try some ginger biscuits, or suck some polo mints.

What I got though, was entirely different. I got a GP who listened. One who believed in prevention rather than cure. One who saw that I was very very dehydrated, tired of being sick, and unable to cope like this with three children, a full time job and a husband that works away.

My GP prescribed me anti-sickness medicine, telling me that I could either take the tablets, or I could spend a couple of days in the hospital. I took the tablets, promised I would return if things didn’t get better, and gritted my teeth through the last minute suggestion to stop at the shops for some gingernut biscuits.

And so my fourth pregnancy has been unlike any other so far. My girls were both born following incredibly easy pregnancies, and my pregnancy with my son had been similarly fraught with sickness, but I had never experienced anything like this. The days were so so long, especially on the first tablets I was given. These made me terribly drowsy, which meant I was unable to take any until bedtime. For most of the day I was literally on my knees, often in tears, and wracked with guilt at not being able to be a mum to the kids. I relied so heavily on my eldest to help with the little ones and by the time the weekend rolled around and my husband was home, I was broken.

The second set of medication that I was prescribed are the real deal. The stuff they give to chemo patients. Medication, I was told, that is usually prescribed after several hospital admissions. I will always be grateful to my GP for keeping me out of the hospital. Within a couple of days, the medication took hold and the fog started to lift.

Being so, so ill for a good ten weeks has given me lots of food for thought. I’m not usually one to take medication readily, but I know that these little white pills have saved me this time. I am not about to stop taking them (I tried that a couple of times, and found myself back at square one each time) but I am keen to find ways to reduce my dependence on them. These are the things I’ve been doing to try and combat the sickness, alongside the tablets:

A good vitamin tablet. My midwife recommended this to me, telling me that a pre-natal vitamin was a good idea for all pregnant women, throughout the whole pregnancy. Apparently there have been cases of rickets in the UK so the vitamins are recommended for this reason, but my midwife swears that they will also help with the nausea and sickness too. On the days where I am unable to eat very much, I feel reassured by taking my tablet… providing it stays down, of course.

Water (and Vimto). I drink as much as I can, but at first this was not easy. I spent a good few weeks feeling intensely nauseous at the very idea of water, and so a crazy addiction to Vimto kicked in. These days, water goes down a lot better than it did, but for the days where it makes my stomach roll, I suck on ice cubes instead. It’s so so important to stay hydrated.

Sleep. Some days, it is all that helps. Most days, it is impossible to achieve, and many nights have seen me hugging the toilet bowl rather than sleeping. But rest/sleep really does help. On the days that follow good nights, I have noticed a marked difference and so I do try to rest when I can.

Swimming. I read that it can help with the nausea, which is pretty much constant for me, especially during the evenings. I joined the local swanky hotel pool and I swim three times a week now. For me, it is a chance to have some time to myself, and to think and to connect a little with my body. I focus on my breathing, and I swim. It helps to calm me and on days where I feel less than 100%, that disappears in the water.

Pilates. This is another way for me to connect with my body a little more. It started in a bid to ready my body for my much wanted VBA3C but now it is certainly a little more spiritual. Each and every day now begins with 40 minutes of Pilates, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I started this at 14 weeks – it would have been impossible any earlier. It feels as though I have been doing it for a lifetime. Again, I focus on my breathing and when the nausea strikes at other times, I have been known to breathe deeply and stretch my way through it…

Loose clothes. This was one of the first ways that I found to ease the sickness and nausea. I was in maternity clothes at ten weeks this time around, despite having no bump at all to speak of. Looser clothes are essential.

Now at almost 20 weeks, I finally think I have a handle on the sickness, or ways that I can manage it, and I no longer suffer in silence. If I am feeling unwell, I ask for support. Pregnancy can be so so hard in so many ways and severe sickness and nausea is not to be taken lightly. If you’re suffering, try the above, but please please also speak to your GP. I found the earliest weeks of this pregnancy so isolating and very dark, to the point where some days I wished that the pregnancy was over. Now I am able to see things with a little more clarity, I just wish I had had someone to hold my hand back then.

Follow Susanne on Twitter @Ghostwritermumm

If you need help or advice about pregnancy sickness, check out the Pregnancy Sickness Support website or find them on Twitter @HGSupportUK