Breastfeeding a reflux baby

Anne - posted on 04/23/2009 ( 6 moms have responded )




HI there,

My daughter is 19weeks old and I have breastfed her since birth. Since 8 weeks old she has had bad silent reflux. We were using ranitidine (zantac) and then when it stopped working we were put on Losec, which seemed to help for the first week. Yesterday all the old symptoms came back. I am also giving her gaviscon to thicken the milk (via syringe) and I have doubled the dose of losec as we started on the lowest dose possible. We raise the head end of her cot and sit her upright for a full 30 minutes after every feed, including at night. When she is having an 'attack' of the reflux she refuses to breastfeed, sometimes refuses a bottle of expressed milk (although not yesterday), and I worry that she isn't taking enough milk. She is putting on at least a lb a month & has enough wet & dirty nappies to satisfy me she is not in danger of becoming dehydrated but she does get hungry & still refuse the breast. She arches, cries and claws at my breast. When she is not in pain she feeds well and although she has never had a big appetite she will drain a breast in 5 minutes. I give her one feed of organic baby rice a day, and I have eliminated dairy from my diet in the hope that it will help (although I need to give it longer as I have only been off it for a week). I estimate at a feeding she's taking between 2 & 5 oz depending on the length of time. On a bad day she'll feed 6x in 24 hours (varying lengths), and on a good 9x. I don't know any other breastfeeding mums, never mind mums who are feeding a reflux baby. I feel under pressure from friends who bottle feed or have bottle fed their children. They have told me she isn't getting enough milk & about various formula milks that seemed to help their children. I do not want to stop breastfeeding her as I have been told that breastmilk is the most easily digested milk there is. To change her seems counter-productive to me, and I don't want to do it. However, maybe I'm wrong? Please advise me as best you can ladies. I am very tired now and sometimes I feel like she doesn't want to breastfeed anymore.... I don't believe it would be any better on formula but I could be wrong I guess. She feeds well at night, and seems to enjoy it then but during the day it is often a battle with her screaming and me crying. Has anyone else been through this? Should I only worry if she fails to put on weight or doesn't get enough fluids (this has not happened)? She is on the 50th centile of the WHO breastfed babies growth chart.

Thank you for your help!


Amanda - posted on 04/25/2009




If you want to breastfeed, I would not give up on a 19 week old. I bottle feed both my boys and they both had acid reflux and frankly I don't think the bottle makes any difference. The docs told me what to do and nothing really helped. Yours may grow out of it when older like my oldest did. My youngest still has severe problems to this day. We thickened formula and that didn't help. Don't let people pressure you into doing something you do not want to do because I bottle feed and I don't feel it made any difference. I will suggest one thing. Make sure she doesn't have a swallowing problem. Alot of docs will ignore this unless pushed by you. You will know because your daughter will be making very strange high pitched noises when swallowing while drinking. Hopefully that is not the case and she will just grow out of it. Good luck!


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Rita - posted on 07/02/2009




It's been a couple months since your post I was wondering if you continued to Bfeed? Did the elimination work? For our baby eliminating dairy and wheat worked WONDERS, but we also got her on a correct dose of her medication and that was the miracle there!! Most Dr's do not know how to dose Prevacid type meds which I think you said you are on...Losec....not sure. Here is a site if you are interested in dosing for PPIs:
And this is more info same site:

Hope you and your LO are doing better!

[deleted account]

My son is the same way, he feeds plenty at night and seems to refuse the breast a lot during the day. Sometimes I feel like I am force feeding him. He has days where he will go 8 hours without feeding during the day! Everyone (friends and family, not doctors) tries to tell me to switch to formula. However, from what I've read, breastfed babies do better overall with gerd than formula fed. Also, my niece is one day older than my son and she seems to be doing the same thing to her mom and she doesn't have reflux at all! Further, my son is consistently in the 85th percentile for weight, so I've just convinced myself to stop worrying about it! Lastly, I figure that it's party due to the fact that he takes in 4 full feedings at night on average and there are plenty of babies that take in only 4 feedings/day and sleep through the night, just not ours, right?!

Anna - posted on 04/24/2009




Both of my children have had reflux. My older ds, now 3, I bf for 2mths and then gave up b/c everyone was telling me I should be him on formula, bm is too thin...blah, blah. I did give up and I went thru 5 different formulas b/f he was put on a milk/soy free for a protein intollerance. I wish I never gave up. Formula comes with it's own set of issues, for my ds, he became constipated, and was not easier to feed, nor did it help his reflux. I decided w/ my dd to nurse her as long as possible. I made it to 1 yr, and I feel it was the best thing I could have done for her, bm is easier to digest than formula. My dd is also milk/soy intollerant. I cut out all milk/soy and eggs, you can do this for about 4-6 weeks then slowly re-introduce to figure out what is the culprit. Milk and soy both made my dd reflux awful, so I just opted to cut them out completely. It took a good 4 weeks b/f a noticed an improvement. I always fed my dd on demand b/c she always took small amounts, then would start arching. She has always been in the 10-25% for weight, my pedi and GI said that is fine as long as she is growing in height. My dd usually would gain 2lbs every 3mths. She is now 13mths and a little over 18lbs.Hang in there and make sure you get a GI doctor they are very knowledgable about reflux and can guide you in the right direction regarding what meds will be right for your dd. If she is not comfortable, advocate strongly for her w/ your GI. Also around 4mths reflux peaks around the time they start teething and when they are sick it is worse as well. Hope she is feeling better soon. Also if you can find a breastfeeding group in your area that would be helpful to find support from other breastfeeding mothers. Bf have different charts for weight, I don't think people that have not bf understand that. Good Luck, sounds like you are doing a great job. Hang in there!

Anne - posted on 04/23/2009




Thanks very much Amanda. I'm going to give the dairy a good go and also wait longer before deciding about the losec dose. I'm quite sure after reading the LLL information on breastfeeding, that I'm doing the right thing at this point. She was weighed today and put on 1lb1oz in 3 weeks, so I'm quite amazed given the terrible time we seemed to be having. I am trying to avoid gassy foods as you suggested, and I will check the labels too! I am hoping that if we can hold on until she can sit up on her own and we're weaning properly then things will get easier. I really appreciate your reply and I hope things are good with you now.


[deleted account]

I breast fed as well and your right friends will make you think bottle feeding is the answer. Wait out the dairy elimination before giving up, it takes a few weeks to get out of your system. Also check the labels of everything your eatting for dairy. I also eliminated any acidic and gassy foods from my diet. To be truthful though I did end up giving up at 6 months so don't feel guilty if you make that choice. Try and do it as long as your both comfortable and don't worry about whether or not she's getting enough. It's not about the ounces it's the diapers that count in breast feed babies. Good Luck

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