When my son was born on July 29th our lives changed and the best thing to ever happen to me was right there in my arms only after nine hours of labor and then a decision to have a c-section.
My husband and I spent four days in the hospital with our son before we were discharged to go home. In the late evenings we sent Grayson down to the nursery so we could do our best to get some sleep between feedings. The last two nights we were there we decided to keep Grayson in our room so we could prepare ourselves for when we went home. It was roughly 10:30pm Thursday evening when I had just finished feeding Grayson and was holding him in my arms and he began slightly gagging. As a new mom, it scared me and I told my husband to come over to the bed to see. Grayson continued to gag and he would start to cry shortly after. Eventually he got to gagging so hard I paged the nurse to come down because I was getting scared. The nurse told us it was normal and my husband mentioned him maybe having reflux. The nurse said it probably was not reflux, but more so mucus from the c-section. She told us to ask the pediatrician for sure the next day with our concerns when he did his rounds. So we watched Grayson closely throughout the rest of the evening. We would notice when we would lay him in the bassinet after a while he would start to gag. I was very nervous to take him home with him gagging the way he was. We mentioned reflux to the pediatrician the next day when he came around and he said he did not think it was reflux, but more so the mucus from the c-section.
When we were discharged to go home Friday afternoon I could not wait to go home and show Grayson his room and his bassinet that we would be sleeping in at night, or so we thought. Now at home on our own we continued to watch Grayson for signs of gagging. The first night home when bedtime rolled around we laid Grayson in his bassinet only to find him screaming shortly after being set down. We would pick him up, console him and lay him down again. Still he would not lay down. We had the baby crib in our bedroom as well so we tried to lay him down in the crib. He would lay there for a few minutes again only to cry. We would hold him for a while then try to lay him down again and he would only sleep for a short time before waking up and crying. The only way we could get Grayson to sleep was to hold him. We fought this same routine over a week and finally we started doing research online. We mentioned reflux to the pediatrician at his one month appointment and she dismissed the idea of it being reflux.
We left and my husband said I still thought that he was experiencing reflux. Over the next couple of weeks, with little sleep–both my husband and I as well as Grayson we tried to figure out what we could do to get Grayson to sleep at night without being held, same for daytime naps. Through the first two weeks at home, Grayson was doing well breastfeeding, but soon began crying while at the breast and pulling away like my milk was bad or something. (Well that is what I as a new mother thought anyway.) My son went from eating roughly twenty minutes on one side to ten minutes or so and in that time would continue to cry, arch his body back and pull himself away from me. I could not figure out why he kept doing this. We saw the doctor again at his two week appointment and she still did not think reflux was the answer. At the end of August we moved to New Jersey just a few days before Grayson was a month old. I had already lined up a pediatrician for when we arrived out East and his one month appointment was just a few short days away.
When we went to his appointment I told the doctor that we had some concerns about Grayson potentially having reflux. We told her for weeks we have struggled with him sleeping without being held, pulling away from my breast crying and some of the gagging experiences we had encountered. Immediately she told us those were signs of reflux- the pulling off the breast and arching his back and constant crying when we would lay him flat (more than likely the acid was coming back up into his throat when he laid flat, causing him pain and he would cry.)
She put Grayson on a reflux medicine to see if any of the symptoms would go away, and within a week its like our little boy was a completely different little baby. He was sleeping better, was able to be set down for more than ten minutes without crying, was not pulling off the breast as much and was actually taking some naps during the day; which before was not happening.
Thankfully my husband and I stuck with our gut knowing there was more than just mucus from a c-section (even though yes there probably was mucus, but there too was something else.) We never let down when the doctors kept telling us it was not reflux. We had seen our little boy struggle and it was hurting us not seeing him sleep or eat well at times.
So, with that being said, we did a lot of research on our own as we tried to figure out why our little one was struggling. We tried different ways to soothe, get him to sleep and eat. We never gave up and we thank our pediatrician in New Jersey for listening to us. I hate the fact we have to give our little guy medicine, but it helps him so much and we are all getting a little more sleep around here!
Here are some tips and tricks that my husband and I found that have helped us deal with our son’s acid reflux:
1. Elevate the head of the crib.
–Before we ended up purchasing our Rock n Play Sleeper and we attempted to make the crib work we took a bath towel and rolled it up and put it under the head of the crib mattress to give it a little elevation. This worked for a while, but we think that he too did not like the open area in the crib; so we had to find another sleeping option which led us to #2.
2. Rock n Play Sleeper
–This has been our life saver. Literally Grayson was sleeping very little and the day I went and purchased a Rock n Play Sleeper he slept for three hours straight. It is slightly elevated and has been his bed since then. It rocks and vibrates and I am able to pull it right up beside my bed at night. It folds up great so if you need it to travel that is a great benefit. It was perfect for us when we moved out here and stayed in a hotel. I wish we would have purchased this like two weeks before we did, we all would have been sleeping a little better. He is now almost three months old and still sleeping it for naps and at night, as we have still noticed on occasion he wakes up gagging. It makes me feel better knowing he is still sleeping with more elevation.
3. Boppy Lounger
–We received a Boppy Lounger as a gift at my baby shower and this was perfect for us to use during the day when we needed to set Grayson down. It is like a large round pillow that is slightly elevated at the top. He really enjoyed sitting in it when he was sleeping for some naps that he did take during the day. Now that he has learned to roll over we have to watch him closely as this pillow sits off the ground and he could easily roll off.
4. Tummy Time
–Tummy time has somewhat always been an issue as he simply does not like laying on his belly. Everyday I give him some time on his belly as he needs it, but lately for a bit each day I also prop him up on the Boppy Pillow on his belly. He is able to raise his head better and it keeps him elevated upright more.
5. Play Mat
–For some time, with having the acid reflux I could not lay him down for literally anymore than five minutes without crying and wanting to be picked up. As he has gotten a little older and with being on the medicine, I have been able to set him down on his mat for sometimes 15 to 20 minutes. I think what has helped us here is continually trying everyday a little bit at a time. I am proud of our progression from even just a few minutes to where we are now.
— I have read a lot on breastfeeding babies with reflux and I have even saw a lactation consultant. When feeding I try to hold him upright more at an angle where he is sitting up and the milk can go down and digest a little easier. I found out when I visited with the lactation consultant that Grayson is a very efficient eater and was getting a lot of milk in just ten short minutes. Which leads me to a whole other subject, but from my research I found that if you let your little one feed off of one breast until it either has emptied or he pulls off can help the unnecessary movement between switching sides. If he pulls off and acts hungry you can attempt the other side. If content after one side allow the baby to nurse off of the other breast at the next feeding. Allowing the baby to eat completely off of one side before switching after just a few minutes will allow less movement; which can stir the baby causing some spit up to happen. Having the baby more relaxed and at ease while eating, the better. We make sure after feeding, whether after him nursing on one side or both sides we always burp between sides and after. We hold him upright for a few minutes after each feeding before laying him down.
As parents we have to learn to experiment and try new things to help our little ones out. We have come a long way in just three months and I know that there will be many other occasions where we may have to do our own research and find ways to make our little one happy.