Diagnosing Reflux

For the first two weeks of M’s life, I was completely amazed. K had been a very alert newborn- she rarely slept for longer than 1/2 hour at a time during the day, and never for more than 2 hours at night. She needed to be held constantly and with my postpartum depression and anxiety, it was overwhelming.  But M has been completely different. He’s relaxed, sleepy and content; he will nap in 2 hour stretches, wake up to eat and look around, then fall back asleep. For two full weeks I was in awe of this little baby who was just so EASY.

Around the two week mark, his casual spitting up became much more prevalent. His lazy manner of nursing turned into a struggle; he would gulp, cough, unlatch and scream. After each feeding, his little legs were pulled up to his stomach, and he would grunt and cry. He had incredible gas; I could hear his stomach gurgling, and any release of gas was explosive and sounded painful.

I assumed I was eating something that was bothering him, or that maybe my fast letdown was causing him to gulp too much air. But after carefully recording what I ate for a few days (and finding no patterns at all), and adjusting how I nursed and how frequently I burped him, the pain and discomfort seemed the same. M was no longer falling asleep nursing – he was in too much pain. We went through dozens of outfits and burp cloths daily- he was spitting up at least three or four times after each feeding. I was briefly reassured because he was still gaining weight (by three weeks old, he had jumped from 8lb 12oz to 10lb 12oz), but ultimately I knew there was something wrong.

At my most recent checkup with the midwives, I brought up my concerns. Instantly, the midwife mentioned GERD: gastroesophageal reflux disorder. Though she couldn’t diagnose anything, she suggested that we consult with a pediatrician. Again, since M was gaining weight well, she didn’t seem too concerned. But she wrote a referral, and two days later, we were in the pediatrician’s office.

Our family is very familiar with GERD; both Jand myself have had it at one point in our adult lives, plus my mother and grandmother also have it. But in an infant, it seems a lot scarier. Knowing that each time he spits up, stomach acid is burning up his esophagus makes me wince; I know that pain, but when it happened to me, I knew what was causing it and why. M has no clue why eating hurts him.

The pediatrician did a full assessment. She asked about any and all symptoms I’ve observed, checked M for signs of anything else that could be wrong, and told me a bit about reflux and GERD. All babies have reflux; the muscle that closes the stomach off to the esophagus isn’t fully developed yet. With an all-liquid diet, inevitably some of that liquid is going to come back up. Where typical reflux becomes GERD is when there is some damage being done, or obvious discomfort. Though M was gaining weight well, and didn’t have any blood in his spit up (two of the more severe signs of GERD), he was in obvious pain after feeding and after spitting up.

For a confirmed diagnosis of GERD, the pediatrician said they would have to do a swallow study. However, since this is a long and bothersome process, her practice deals with it a little differently. Because GERD is suspected, we were given a two week trial of Prevacid. If it helps, we’ll just keep on with that. If it does nothing, or if it makes it worse, we’ll start looking for other reasons for M’s pain (such as a protein intolerance/MSPI).

We’re only a few days into the trial, so we haven’t noticed any changes yet. But I’m hoping this is the answer for M; I’d like to ease his pain as quickly as possible. I’ll be sure to update after our next pediatrician’s visit!

For a confirmed diagnosis of GERD, the pediatrician said they would have to do a swallow study. However, since this is a long and bothersome process, her practice deals with it a little differently. Because GERD is suspected, we were given a two week trial of Prevacid. If it helps, we’ll just keep on with that. If it does nothing, or if it makes it worse, we’ll start looking for other reasons for Baby Oats’ pain (such as a protein intolerance/MSPI).

We’re only a few days into the trial, so we haven’t noticed any changes yet. But I’m hoping this is the answer for Baby Oats; I’d like to ease his pain as quickly as possible. I’ll be sure to update after our next pediatrician’s visit!

2 thoughts on “Diagnosing Reflux

  1. I hope the Prevacid helped! I always just say D had severe reflux, but it was GERD. We did do the swallow study. Prevacid worked wonders for us. But twice a day worked way better than one time…just FYI.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s