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chickadee March 19th, 2013 05:47 PM

Don't know what to do
Hi all. Sorry it's been so long since I've been around, and that I missed the birth of so many of your little ones. We've been having a rough time - or I've been having a rough time handling things.

So, since about 3 weeks (tomorrow he'll be 8 weeks) my son has had reflux that has been causing him no small amount of discomfort. It's been pretty awful at times... most of the time, really. The first thing we tried was cutting dairy out of my diet, which helped some (it definitely reduced his diarrhea and the constact diaper rash) but didn't resolve the reflux. We then tried Zantac, and finally Prevacid, which he's currently taking. Both helped somewhat, but didn't provide any consistent relief. We also, against my better judgement, tried thickening breast milk with some cereal to help him keep it down. That was a disaster the one time we tried it, and I didn't try it again. I have felt so powerless to help make my son feel better, and am just so worn out from struggling with it on top of all the other exhaustions of new parenthood. Not to mention that the reflux makes him want to nurse all.the.time. I am thankful I have the kind of reflux baby that is gaining weight well (because the opposite would be much harder), but my child is nursing so much that he's gaining nearly a pound per week. It's insane, and he has very quickly become very chubby.

Anyway, my son's pediatrician called me this past Saturday night out of the blue, and suggested that we try giving him a hypoallergenic formula for 48 hours to see if it would help. I struggled all day Sunday with the idea, and finally started it on Monday morning. I cried with the first few bottles, cried again today with them. It just sucks so much giving him formula when I want to be nursing, when HE wants to be nursing. It took a while for me to really get comfortable with nursing (I hated it for the first few weeks), and now that we're finally there I hate not being able to nurse him for even just these 48 hours. And, I feel like a brand new parent again. I had kind of figured out what to expect with the nursing, and feel totally lost again now that I'm giving him bottles of formula instead (and trying to pump like mad to keep my supply up).

The problem is, he seems better. I change my mind every few hours on whether he's *really* doing better or not, but there is no question that his bowel movements and gassiness are way, WAY better, and so far today he hasn't had a single reflux episode. He has spit up several times still, but no obvious pain from it, and his breath hasn't smelled like vomit at all today. Evenings are usually his worst time, so we'll see what the next several hours bring... but so far today has been pretty far from the norm.

I suspect his pediatrician is going to recommend tomorrow that I switch him to the formula. I want to do what's best for him, whatever that is, but I really, really, really don't want to stop nursing him if I don't have to. The past two days have really turned me upside down again, and my footing was pretty precarious as it was. I want our old routine back, even as hard as it was... and I want to keep feeding him breastmilk because of all the benefits it confers... but I also want him to feel better and not scream in pain after half of his feeds. Besides switching to formula to help him though, my only other options seem to be a) trying a total elimination diet so that I can see if cutting out more foods gets rid of the reflux, or b) waiting this out - because it should eventually go away, I just don't know whether that will be at 4 months or at 12.

I just don't know what to do. I want to do what's best for my baby, but I don't know what that is and I'm struggling so much with this. We have an appointment with a pediatric GI on March 28, and I'm wondering if I should just wait until then to do anything. All of these changes though are wearing on both my son and I... it's so hard to develop any kind of routine or schedule when we're always at the doctor, always changing meds, always trying this or that. I'm just totally fried.

Anyway, thanks for any thoughts you might have.

AmyLM March 19th, 2013 07:21 PM

Re: Don't know what to do
((Hugs)) I am so sorry you and your little boy are going through this! Have you talked to a lactation consultant to see if they have any ideas? I would really struggle with it too since it is what "we are supposed to do " when my oldest dd was born, she was so tiny, I was urged to give her formula until my milk came in. I cried and cried. I felt like a failure even though I know formula isn't poison.

I wonder if you could try half formula and half bm and see how he does with that?

spicymustard March 19th, 2013 08:15 PM

Re: Don't know what to do
It sounds like you really want to continue BFing and in that case I would try the elimination diet.

chickadee March 19th, 2013 09:30 PM

Re: Don't know what to do
Thank you ladies. Amy, I haven't talked to a lactation consultant about this. My hospital has a warm line for the consultants, and I've been thinking about doing that. Maybe I'll call them in the morning and get their take.

The diet will be tough. I'm definitely willing, but it's so hard to find time to prepare food as it is... Maybe I can get some help so I can get to the store and get some stuff prepared to get me going.

My son's pediatrician is very strongly pro-breastfeeding, so maybe she'll be in favor of me trying the diet. I guess at least now we know that it really does seem to be my diet that is causing the problems. He went down with no trouble at all tonight, it was so unusual.

Rebelmommy March 20th, 2013 06:00 AM

Re: Don't know what to do
((HUGS)) Maybe if all else fails you could pump and save the mi;lk and try re-introducing breastfeeding at a later date when his little belly is older and more developed? I had a friend who did this and her daughter was 7 months old when she started reintroducing BF and while it took a bit of work she went back to nursing and her DD nursed until she was 18 months old!

Sassalota March 20th, 2013 09:07 AM

Re: Don't know what to do
Try the chiropractor. For real. I am a lactation consultant and I would say go to the chiropractor. I took my little one last week and it helps so much. Especially if you had a vaginal birth.

AmyLM March 20th, 2013 10:32 AM

Re: Don't know what to do
Chiropractor is a great idea!

LuckyOne March 20th, 2013 10:53 AM

Re: Don't know what to do
Dd1 had crazy allergies that took my diet to pretty much a protein, salad, and rice and I hate rice. It was so difficult but worth the effort. One day in the craziness that was my PPD, I broke down and started crying because dh took me to an Asian place and all they have was stuff with soy, eggs, and gassy veggies! It was a very challenging time but you could tell a difference. Dd definitely felt better. I did it because of reflux but she would even break out in hives which they tried to tell me was baby acne but it really was a reaction to what I was eating.
Anyway, I would at least try changing your diet like you've planned. It's worth a shot.
Can you cook ahead maybe? The other night my sister watched both my girls and I made about four batches of chicken. Unfortunately, I have a big family with a hearty appetite so it doesn't last too long but I've been able to do other things aside from cooking during the day.
I really hope it works out for you, it's a very difficult position to be in. :dothug:

beamermarie March 20th, 2013 12:07 PM

Re: Don't know what to do
I have a couple non-medically trainined throughts. What about a four ounce bottle with 2 ounces breastmilk and two ounces of formula? That way he at least gets some antibodies?

Is it possible he is over-eating?

Have you tried Gripe Water?

chickadee March 20th, 2013 04:15 PM

Re: Don't know what to do
Saw the pediatrician today, and we're going to try the elimination diet. A few more days of formula while I start it, and then on Saturday I can start nursing again. We'll see how things are in 2 weeks - I am really, really hoping this does the trick.

LuckyOne, I'm so glad to hear that the changes to your diet made a difference. That gives me hope. I'm sorry you struggled with this too, and with the PPD - I feel like I may be in the same boat, and I'm seeing a Dr this Friday. I am feeling really overwhelmed at this point, but am trying to keep it all together.

Sassalota, I had a c-section, but if this next step doesn't help I'll check into a chiropractor. Thank you for the suggestion.

Rebelmommy - I am struggling as it is to find enough hands-free time to pump enough to keep up my supply while feeding him bottles, and I've only been doing it 3 days!! I have no idea how your friend did it for so many months! Amazing though, and something I'll keep in mind if we have to switch to formula in the end.

beamermarie - He is definitely over-feeding, because he's often nursing for comfort as it soothes the reflux (while he's actively feeding). I don't think he's over-eating in any given nursing session, just feeding too often. We haven't tried gripe water, but the issue doesn't really seem to be colic. The reflux means he vomits a lot (not just spit up), his breath often smells like vomit, etc. We have to keep him upright for 30 minutes after each feeding, and even that often isn't enough to keep him from having an attack.

Unfortunately, I don't think combining formula and breast milk will relieve the symptoms if it is allergy/intollerance issues that are causing the reflux and other digestive issues. I guess, though, that it depends on how severe the allergy is. I have no idea at this point - we have changed so much over the past 5 weeks that I don't know what is up and what is down.

Ravado March 21st, 2013 06:40 PM

Re: Don't know what to do
I do not have any good advice I just wanted to say hugs. Nothing is worse than feeling helpless when it comes to your children. I hope you find a good solution soon.

Crystalici0us4 March 23rd, 2013 08:38 PM

Re: Don't know what to do
.::Lurking from the Dec 2012 PR::.

Chickadee, first I just want to say, I'm sorry you are going thru this! I know its hard.. I don't have much advice, I do not BF. My daughter did have some tummy troubles (extremely painful gas) and I had to switch formula several times before trying soy. Thankfully, the horribly painful gas stopped once she was on a soy formula. I understand how hard it is seeing your baby in pain and not being able to stop it because you don't know what you can do. I also know how hard it is dealing with an inconsolable baby, I went thru it for a few weeks until we figured out a solution.

The reason I decided to respond in this thread, is because I saw someone mention that you try gripe water, and you said that you haven't tried it because your baby isn't colicky. I also recommend trying the gripe water. It isn't just for colicky babies. It is also to relieve gas, stomach discomfort, and it can also be given to babies when they have the hiccups and it will stop them almost immediately. When I was in the midst of trying to figure out how to ease my daughters painful gas issue, I went out and bought gripe water. That stuff works miracles. My daughter was so uncomfortable, that she slept horribly for nearly two weeks, until I got the gripe water and would give it to her before bed. Gas drops didn't help, but the gripe water did. I was giving to her up to six times a day (the box says it can be given up to six times a day) until I figured out she needed a soy formula. I still buy it, just in case, and also use it sometimes when she gets hiccups.

Anyway, sorry for butting into your convo, just thought I might be able to help out. I really hope that you are able to resolve your sons reflux issues asap :)

chickadee March 23rd, 2013 10:15 PM

Re: Don't know what to do
Crystal (and everyone else), thank you (truly) for the reply and suggestions. I think I will give the gripe water a try. I started the elimination diet on Wed and my son has had only one painful reflux episode in the last two days (still vomiting, but he's not screaming and squirming in pain after eating), so something is working. Unfortunately he's still have a lot of lower GI issues - plenty of gas and diarrhea. :( I am sure the diarrhea is a food intolerance issue, so hopefully I just need to get whatever the allergens are out of my system to get him some relief from that. In the meantime though, maybe the gripe water will help the associated gas. Anything to get him (and us) some relief. Oh, and he definitely has hiccups multiple times each day. It will be nice to get rid of those for him.

The elimination diet sucks, truly. I am eating nothing but turkey, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, zucchini, and pears, plus olive oil, salt and pepper. Nothing to drink except water and diluted pear juice. I'm not getting enough food in, and am so beat. I can't wait until I can start adding some foods back in and can figure out what, exactly, is causing the issues.

LuckyOne March 23rd, 2013 10:32 PM

Re: Don't know what to do
Try wellements gripe water. They sell it at walgreens and is all natural. Poor dd has the worst gas and reflux and it has really helped her. She was just given an rx for zantac but before then the gripe water worked. It did take about two dosages though to see a difference in how she felt after eating.

Alv07 April 4th, 2013 05:51 PM

Re: Don't know what to do
I was just popping in, because I have a baby born in Feb 2013. My first DD, and this baby had milk protein allergies. I had to eliminate all milk based products from my diet in order to continue breastfeeding, and it helped rid them of the reflux. It can take 10 days to 3 weeks to get all of the dairy protein out of your system, but I started to see some improvement after the first couple of days. Check out kellymom.com for some great info on it.

chickadee April 7th, 2013 09:07 PM

Re: Don't know what to do
Alv, cutting out all dairy was the very first thing we tried, when he was 3 weeks old. We saw some improvement, but even after 2 weeks of that we were still having a lot of problems. That's when we started trying meds.

We are now 2.5 weeks into the complete elimination diet, and the reflux is completely gone. It's amazing. We saw a pediatric GI specialist, and she thought the gas and diarrhea might be a side effect of the prevacid he was on, so we've been weaning him from that for the past week and a half. He hasn't had any meds the past 3 nights, and so far the reflux hasn't returned and the diarrhea is getting better. It seems like we may be able to control this with my diet alone, which would mean I can keep nursing AND have a happy baby. :D The diet is tiring, but I'm at the point where I can start testing foods to find out what I can add back in, so that's something to look forward to!

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