June 29, 2012

The 1st Curveball: Silent Reflux

Category: Critter Stories

3 words to describe our week: Manic.Manic. Manic.

I wish I could say that all has been fine and dandy; and that whatever trick that Squirt’s gonna pull, we’ll be more prepared to handle the situation better given that (we thought!) Spud has already thrown us more than enough curve-balls when she was an infant.

But! We forgot one thing – Spud never did have the reflux (or colic).

Squirt, as I mentioned in my previous post, has been fussing quite a bit in the last few days. The contented little baby we had, turned into this bundle of fury that could not stop crying. The only time he wasn’t wailing was when he was at my breasts.

Being the breast-fed baby that he is, I fed him on demand. I thought nothing of it as I was conditioned to think that feeding on demand is good for my milk supply, and as a nursing mother, I was also often told that “it is not possible to over-feed a breastfed baby.” 

He was always ravenous, feeding with gusto every half an hour and could never seem to feed enough. He was gaining weight and filling up his diaper quite a bit.  I mistook it for a growth spurt and at one point, even thought that I probably was not producing enough milk.

He continued fussing incessantly at the breasts. Every so often, I noticed the piercing screams and grimace on his face after each feeding session as if he was in such a terrible pain. Although he only sometimes spat up, he had violent hiccups,  he was gagging and choking, he was arching his back whilst feeding and he seemed to be in such intense pain whenever he needed to burp or when he was about to do a poo. His sleeping, especially at night was lousy and he kept us awake for several hours on end over several days.  His nose sounded stuffed, he was coughing quite a lot and every cough was again accompanied by a cry of pain.

It broke my heart. I wanted him to stop hurting, yet I felt really helpless. He calmed down only when he was feeding. And he was feeding excessively.

Turning to Mr. Google, I started to research and the results pointed to the direction of Squirt potentially having a silent reflux.

As it stands, most babies are born with some degree of reflux problem. With silent reflux, the acid comes up to the esophagus, but the child will swallow it back down – which explains why Squirt was not spitting up too much.  Many times, the infant will develop a food aversion and refuse to eat as he learns to associate pain with feeding.

Occasionally, as in the case of Squirt, the opposite happened – we have an infant who comfort feeds, eating excessively as the milk coats the esophagus allowing temporary relief, and perhaps, pushes the food back down. It’s a vicious cycle.


So, off to the Pediatrician we went. Our PD seemed to agree with our suspicion of Squirt having a reflux problem and prescribed us with Air-X. She also told us to put Squirt on a strict feeding schedule – he is to be fed only every 2 hours and very.strictly.not.less.

I have to admit that I was skeptical at the doctor’s order and doubt that it will work on a breastfed baby. I thought putting Squirt on a schedule seemed ridiculous for a breastfed baby. It would put the breastfeeding NAZI to shame! It was a tall order.

It was not easy putting Squirt on a 2-hour schedule; it meant that we have to endure the hours of crying. However, we saw some improvement within the day we gave Squirt his meds and putting him on a 2 hour feeding schedule as ordered. It took all that I had to not give in.

Who would have thought that the demand feeding we thought he needed was exactly the very thing which caused him such suffering.  It has been almost a week now since we put Squirt on a routine schedule to remedy his reflux. I don’t know how long more it will take before Squirt can minimize his crying while waiting to be fed as we work on his 2-hour feeding routine.

His crying is driving me insane, but I am glad that we caught this early enough.

And I guess, at this point in time, both Squirt and me (and the rest of our household members), have a lot of getting used to.

Reflux update here: Crying over spilt milk

Posted by:    |    2 Comment
  1. I see you have been through a lot of tough time breastfeeding. Impressive that you found out about the reflux problem yourself. I would say that even two hours in between bf is a very short interval and should not be necassary more than a few times a day and the rest of the feedings with three or four hours’ interval to allow rest in the little stomack and digestion system

    • I was glad we detected the reflux soon enough, Maria – Google helped! The entire reflux episode was quite a nightmare and I cannot imagine anyone going through it for months on end without knowing it or without getting any help. It was heart-wrenching. Glad that’s all over now. 🙂

      2 hours was already quite a feat to achieve..I don’t think my boy would have lasted 4 hours; although at times i stretched it to 3 as much as I could. Surprised you found this post! 🙂


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