Baby Reflux Myth-Busting by The Baby Reflux Lady, Áine Homer
In book, The Baby Reflux Lady’s Survival Guide, Áine Homer, A.K.A. The Baby Reflux Lady explains what baby reflux really is and gives you the tools to read your baby’s symptoms to understand what is causing their reflux, and what you can do to help them.
More than what the internet can tell you, Áine provides insights to baby reflux that are life changing.
As a mum to two girls, who between them were diagnosed with colic, reflux, silent reflux, CMPA, tongue-tie and other food intolerances and allergies; Áine understands the emotional toll that reflux has on families, she understands the journey, and holds your hand to guide you through it quickly.
Below, she’s busts myths on Baby Reflux.
Baby reflux is no joke. Yet I felt like my doctor wasn’t taking me seriously. At our six-week check, I was told that “all babies cry”. Our health visitor declared my daughter the, “most stubborn baby she had met in thirty years of health visiting” after she screamed for twenty minutes when left lying down. I dreaded evening time, hours of endless and inconsolable screaming from my baby. I knew there was something hurting her yet was helpless to ease her pain.
Words that echo from this time are “she’s just colickly, she will soon grow out of it”, and “her behaviour is normal”.
My daughter wasn’t diagnosed with silent reflux until she was over five months old, by which time I was deep in the throes of postnatal depression, caused by severe sleep deprivation and compounded by doctors telling me my baby was fine, her behaviour was normal and that my anxiety was causing her to be worse, that I needed to relax.
When silent reflux was confirmed, we started to hear “reflux is normal, she will grow out of it” on repeat.
How could this pain and screaming be normal?
I knew in my gut that it wasn’t normal, and my investigative engineering brain wouldn’t let me rest until I understood what was going on.
No doctor, paediatrician or allergist was able to answer my questions: “Why is my baby girl in so much pain? What’s causing this?”
The only answers I ever received were myths, which, I have realised, demonstrate a weak understanding of what reflux really is, and what we can do to help our babies.
Myth: Reflux is normal
Truth: Reflux is not normal
If you described your baby’s reflux symptoms as your own to your doctor, would you be happy to be told “don’t worry – what you’re suffering with is completely normal”. The searing chest pain every time you drink, vomiting two hours after every meal, unable to sleep with the severe bloating and trapped gas you suffer every night. Would you believe that this is normal?
Reflux is not normal. Reflux is regurgitation of stomach contents (including stomach acid) into the food pipe (oesophagus) which burns, painfully: stomach acid is not supposed to be in the food pipe. Our digestive systems are designed to be mostly one-way streets, and when things are not going the correct way, we need to know why, and then we can take action to remedy.
Myth: Your baby will grow out of it
Truth: Some babies will grow out of it
Babies do not wake up one day and suddenly reflux is gone, there is always a catalyst to the change. In babies who are medicated, it’s difficult to spot the change as the medications mask symptoms.
However, there are too many babies who continue to suffer way past solids, and way past their first birthdays. We are seeing more babies and toddlers who become highly allergenic, who cannot sleep restfully at night and who are labelled with poor behaviour. And all of these issues are directly related to their “reflux”.
This myth is dangerous, because it tells us to ‘sit tight and wait’, to allow our babies, our mental and emotional health, and our relationships to suffer. It encourages us to be complacent, it tells us that it’s okay for our babies to suffer daily, when we know, in our gut, that we must be able to do something to help them.
Myth: There’s nothing other than medication for reflux
Truth: We Can Resolve Reflux Completely Without Medication
Reflux is a symptom. It’s a symptom of many different things including (not limited to), over tiredness, tongue tie, birth trauma, hiatal hernia, stomach ulcer, food allergy (not limited to Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy), pyloric stenosis and more.
It is not a symptom of an overproduction of stomach acid, and it is not because baby has a weak lower oesophageal valve. In fact, every baby born has this inherent weakness in the LES because they simply have lower muscle tone at birth.
What can you do?
First and foremost, trust yourself. If you believe that your baby is more unsettled than they should be, then there is a reason for it.
When we pay close attention to our babies, we see that in all their symptoms and behaviours, they are giving us all the clues we need to play Sherlock Holmes and figure it out.
By understanding all your baby’s symptoms as patterns, we can figure out what is causing their reflux and what specific steps we can take to help them.
Remember, you are the world’s leading expert in your baby.