Have you been told that your baby has reflux? Are you trying to get your head around what that means and what to do next? I'm here to help.
What is infant reflux?
Firstly let me say that for the purposes of this blog when I talk about infant reflux I'm also including GORD (GERD), GOR, Silent Reflux, the symptoms of allergies/intolerances and what may have been dismissed as "colic".
In simple terms a reflux action is when something moves from the stomach to the oesophagus. It is a natural process that our bodies are designed to do for a number of reasons, e.g. to remove excess air from our stomach - burping or vomiting to remove food/bacteria. The body's ability to reflux is completely normal and is one of the body's ways of protecting itself from pathogens etc.
What's not normal is when this action is happening over and over again especially when it is causing obvious pain and discomfort. It is not normal for stomach acid to be oesophagus all the time and it's certainly not normal for babies to be in distress.
The good news is that there is always a reason for your babies symptoms and we can work together to figure it out.
The most common causes of reflux
1. Build up of gas.
Those of us who can remember back to physics lessons at school will remember that things will move from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure. If you blow up a balloon and then let go of it, it will deflate as the air moves from high pressure (inside the balloon) to an area of lower pressure (outside the balloon).
The same thing happens inside a baby's stomach. When the pressure inside the stomach is too great the body will try to regain balance by sending the gas into a lower pressure environment. In this case the oesophagus. The pressure level will determine the force of the regurgitation with higher pressure leading to projectile vomit and lower pressure as silent reflux.
The question we need to answer is where does the air come from?
More often than not it's because baby is swallowing too much air. Babies can swallow air when they cry, laugh, eat, drink (especially if there are issues with latch to breast or bottle), when they swallow saliva and if there are air bubbles in their milk.
Do you struggle to wind your baby? Get my free burping guide!
2. Food Allergy or Intolerance.
Our digestive system plays a key role in immunity as you may have seen if you've read any of our posts on probiotics. One of the roles of gastric acid found in the stomach is to kill pathogens and prevent them reaching the small and large intestine. However, the infant digestive system is very immature and sometimes it's ability to perceive pathogens is a little off. For example, it may, rightly or wrongly, identify that a protein in cows milk, gluten, soy or any other food is a virus and trigger a reflux reaction to protect itself by vomiting out what it has perceived as a threat.
In these cases, reflux is a symptom of the allergy or intolerance.
There are of course other causes of reflux including pyloric stenosis, galactosaemia, intestinal blockages, etc which is why it's important that we assess each case individually.
If you're ready to start figuring out what's causing your little ones reflux then start with this free download to track all of their symptoms.
If you'd like more tailored 1:1 support you can find full details of my packages here.
Want to know more about why I started supporting babies with reflux? You can read my story here.
I truly hope I can help you on your journey to a reflux free life.
Harriette Robinson has been working with babies for over 8 years and has a wealth of experience as a Massage Therapist, Infant & Child Massage Instructor, Mindful Breastfeeding Practitioner and Infant Reflux Specialist. She's passionate about helping parents get to the root cause of their baby's digestive discomfort, colic or reflux symptoms. She lives in Yorkshire with her daughter and Jack Russel Terrier.
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