That sound, ah THAT sound makes me close my eyes and inhale a deep breath....I hear it throughout the day and night and I am not the only Mother listening to it.
It's not the sound of crying or winging, it's the sound of my little boy being ever so brave. Silent Reflux visits us uncountable times day and night and my heart melts for him as I know he is so uncomfortable.
I am not an expert on reflux and I didn't really know much about it until my little boy was around 8 months and……..
Always slept with his head tilted back
HATED laying flat
Arched his back wildly
Would push off his father and I's chest with his hands and feet when we tried to comfort him in the night but equally wanted us to hold and love him.
Always wanted to breast feed
Then we started hearing THAT sound. A gurgling, rushing sound of acid reflux whooshing up and then a gulping sound as our little trooper swallowed and pushed it all back down again.
He would be exhausted from the constant cycle of silent reflux both day and night. However baby Massage & Yoga really helped us both.
We would be up at the crack of dawn exhausted from a night of constant waking, feeding, cuddling, pushing off, kicking, grizzling, crying, singing, walking around......and by the morning we just clung to each other.
Awake but in a dream state we would leave the sofa where we often ended up sleeping sat up and go to the Nursery to get ready for our day. Starting the day with a little massage really helped to re-connect after a night of upset...........to tired to talk sometimes we spoke purley through touch and massage.....
Mummy: I love you and I will do anything to help you and get rid of this reflux. Let me calm and soothe you with my gentle loving touch and the warmth of my skin.
Baby: I love you Mummy, it's not your fault, you make me feel better just by hugging me.
This re-connection was vital, allowing us to wipe the slate clean and start our day on a positive note.
Baby Massage & Yoga won't cure reflux but they can help you and your baby to find relaxation which is so important. Especially as many babies and tots that suffer with reflux & silent reflux become very tense which can impact;
Reflux can leave babies feeling to tense to drift off to sleep and will often wake frequently in the night for milk or to suckle (which reduces irritation and speeds gastric emptying). A lack of sleep in an infant/child can lead to them feeling irritable & clingy. You may find that they also tent to grizzle or cry lots due to their lack of sleep hindering their ability to process emotions positivity & effectively*.
Baby Massage & Yoga can help a baby to sleep through or in my experience to help your baby relax and positively engage in the initial stages of sleep at the beginning of the night*.
For a while I was made to feel as if I was a 'failing mother' because my baby didn't sleep through the night. However he did fall asleep well and part of that is thanks to all the effort we put into his pre bed time relaxation experience which consisted/consists of Baby Yoga, Baby Massage, bath, milk & cuddles and then transferring into his cot to sleep peacefully until his first bout of reflux visits.
For me this time is magical. By the end of the day I am exhausted from looking after his reflux needs through the night and entertaining him during the day (as well as doing all the other mummy and work related jobs). That hour where we play calming music (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ye8CF8A7r_4), look at books together, sing some songs and play with our floaty scalfs, have a massage and explore some yoga before daddy comes home to help with bath time and then quiet snuggles and milk in the rocking chair is so relaxing for not only baby Ren but for me as well. I get to re-charge, reboot and reconnect with love and calmness ready to help teach him about sleep*.
Feeling tense can Impact upon babies desire and ability to eat – especial during weaning onto solid foods. This can leave babies/tots feeling hungry and irritable. It is important that if they are happy to have breast milk/milk (or a form of non cows milk as this can irritate the condition further) that they are allowed to stock up on this as it will comfort, soothe and aid with settling any hunger for a bit.
A really great piece of advice that I read was to focus on what they had eaten or drunk and celebrate that rather than focusing on what they had refuse to eat/dumped on the floor or given to the dog (https://www.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz/general/copingwithrefluxingtoddlers/). This positive vision can and should be used in all areas of your day, by doing so you will find that spirits and energy levels are lifted!
The impact that reflux/silent reflux can have on a child behaviour can impact their social interactions. Some babies become more nervy in social situations and need lots of reassurance. This can change daily depending on their condition, sleep and hunger levels.
Reflux related stress can lead to outward behaviour such as;
highly strung, flitting from activity to activity. not being able to settle and focus…….this can have an impact upon their nursery and school education.
It is not uncommon for a child who has and does suffer from reflux to express themselves through biting, head banging, and other forms of outward behaviour
Baby Massage & Yoga can aid you communication skills with each-other and promote relaxation. Enabling you to minimise any social interactivity issues. Listening to your baby may mean changing plans to meet their needs.
As I stated previously I am not an expert I am writing this just as a Mum reaching out to other Mums and Dads. So I am not going to write about all the different avenues to be taken with regards to medication but I am going to encourage you to have confidence. Do not let your GP fob you off….if a medication is not working for your baby go back and demand another type (there are lots of different types of medication you can try some more expensive than others so they can be reluctant to give you it!). Ask to be refereed to see a Paediatrician or Gastric consultant at your local hospital…..hassle, hassle, hassle until you get what you need.
In the mean time there are things that you can do at home to help (along with your baby massage & yoga). If you are breast feeding you may want to cut out some foods that can trigger reflux (http://www.gastrolondon.co.uk/acid-reflux-diet.php) and weaning babies should stay clear of these foods as well.
Although Baby Yoga & Massage can not cure reflux or silent reflux it can make a great difference to your baby’s quality of life, the relationship you have with your baby and your experience of being a mother and/or father. Love and relaxation are so very important to any baby, but a baby with reflux is in so much need of reassurance, patients and extra love to help soothe the issues around reflux.
By helping your baby to relax you are teaching them that there is respite from their stress and that you are there to help them.
You are not failing if you are getting up in the night to care for and help your baby through bouts of reflux! Many babies need milk to help push down the offending reflux and to soothe their bodies. Breast milk contains melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone) which will help your unsettled baby to relax and fall back into their sleep. Not to mention the safe, snugly feeling babies get when breast feeding, the skin to skin reassurance & hearing your heart beat are all important to an unsettled infant.
Its important to be positively open to change. Routines can be really helpful for the whole family and for promoting feelings of security. However busy nights of calming reflux might mean that nap times slightly shift a bit which impact upon your day. Let it be…..don't beat yourself up that you haven't stayed with your plan and for promoting feelings of security. However busy nights of calming reflux might mean that nap times slightly shift a bit which impact upon your day. Let it be…..don't beat yourself up that you haven't stayed with your plan.
You may find that nappy changing, feeding, socialising all need to be adapted from day to day. Tune into your baby and let love lead you into new ways of achieving your daily goals and experiences. Remember nothing is set in stone you can change a nappy any way you and your baby likes (as long as they are safe).
Above all remember love not control. This came to me when I adapted the way I changed my baby's nappy. I just thought...why am I struggling to contain his attempts at imitating a sea serpent….lets just go with love...let me love and listen to my baby and have a pleasant time during changing. ..he wants to stand so lets try changing and getting dressed standing...hey presto we haven’t looked back and nappy changing is no longer stressful for either of us.
So if you take anything away from this article let it be 'love, not control'. Love & listen to your baby and use this to help teach them about the world around them, about right and wrong and about kindness.
Where you have seen this sign ( * ) indicates that there will be more about this topic in a forthcoming instalment to this article.
*Love to help process emotions positively and effectively
*my experience of Silent reflux & sleeping
Lots of different visual charts and reminders that you can use to remind yourself of the trigger foods to avoid.