What is Reflux?
Reflux, also known as posseting or spitting up, happens when the milk your baby has swallowed comes back up into his food pipe (oesophagus). The full medical term for this is gastro-oesophageal reflux or GOR.
Your baby’s stomach contains acid that helps him to break down his milk. This mixture of milk and acid can come up and may make your baby uncomfortable. If you’ve ever had heartburn, you’ll know the burning feeling that acid reflux can cause.
Reflux is messy and may be frustrating, but it’s normal for babies and isn’t usually a sign of illness. At least 40 per cent of babies get it, with five per cent of these having six or more episodes a day. Reflux is a temporary problem that usually gets better as your baby’s digestive system matures.
What causes Reflux?
Your baby’s food pipe (oesophagus) connects his mouth with his stomach. There is a valve, controlled by a ring of muscle, where his food pipe joins his stomach. When your baby eats, the valve opens to allow the milk through, then closes to keep it in his tummy. As this ring of muscle is still developing, it doesn’t always work properly.
This means that when your baby’s tummy is full, milk and acid can come back up the food pipe, causing discomfort. You’ll probably notice when this happens, but sometimes your baby may swallow the milk, or it may not get as far as his mouth. This is known as silent reflux.
How can I prevent Reflux?
If your babies reflux is mild and they are still feeding well and not too upset by it, these tips may help ease any discomfort!
- Feed baby in an upright position.
- Try giving baby smaller more frequent feeds.
- If bottle feeding, burp baby every 2-3 minutes and make sure the hole in the teat isn’t too large, you don’t want the milk coming out too fast.
When should I take my baby to see a doctor?
Bringing up a little milk or occasional vomiting after feeds is nothing to worry about. But speak to your health visitor or doctor if you notice that your baby:
- has frequent reflux
- is irritable during or after feeds, crying and arching his back
- regularly vomits large amounts up to two hours after feeding
- is bringing up green or yellow vomit, or vomit that has blood in it, which will look like coffee grounds
- starts to fuss or refuse feeds, but will suck on a soother, if you use one
- seems to have a sore tummy or throat
- isn’t gaining weight
As always use this as a guide and if you are concerned contact your GP!