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Nadia Bartle opens up about her struggle with Baby Aston and silent reflux. “I had no idea what ‘reflux’ or ‘silent reflux’ in babies was. I thought it was just like the reflux us adults get when we eat spicy food. You know the type that causes a little discomfort and then it passes.”

Reading Nadia Bartle’s post this week on her struggle with infant silent reflux was like living my own life all over again. Times two, but throw in an infant that just endured open heart surgery as well.

Both my sons suffered with silent reflux. Thankfully we had an awesome paedatrician that was straight onto it at the 6 week checkup and helped us onto the right path. Although, to be honest, the first six months with both boys was a total killer!

Our first born son was diagnosed with a heart condition at just a few tiny hours old. (You can read more about that here.)

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So skip forward past all that nightmare, when we were finally home and he was tucked up in his own little cot, we had no idea that he was also struggling another silent nightmare.  He had just had his chest cut open, of course he would be feeling some discomfort still.  We thought it was to be expected that he was unsettled.

So being totally noob first time parents we continued to walk the floors and offer baby panadol if we felt it was required. If I did finally get to crawl into bed I would quietly sob into my pillow, wishing I knew what we ever did for this to be happening. Why were we not blessed with a “healthy child” that everyone else was bragging about?

It was at one of our regular checkups post heart surgery with our paediatrician that she actually picked up the silent reflux during one of his feeds. She prescribed some medication and offered us tips on how to try and ease the symptoms.

As she then also did for our second son five years later. I couldn’t believe we were so unlucky twice!

Nadia Bartle shares her experience with silent reflux

Aston was a really fussy baby from day dot. You know how a lot of babies are in that sleepy ‘unawaken’ newborn phase in the hospital and they just sleep a lot? Our boy never went through that stage.”

“It started from that second night in the hospital, screaming all night long and this continued for months and months. Our baby was the one you could hear in hospital screaming on the top of his lungs during the night while Jim and I walked his bassinet around the hospital corridors trying to get him to sleep.”

“He was constantly in a lot of pain, it seemed like it was more than just the normal baby fussy cries, but being a first-time mum, who was I to say what was normal or not? I had nothing to compare it to and I felt like if I told people he cried a lot and wouldn’t sleep at all then it was a sign of weakness on my behalf.

My Mum and close family also thought he was far more irritable than your average baby. He would scream for hours with a bright red face, clenched tight fists and nothing would settle him. Even when he slept he had a painful looking screwed up face. If he wasn’t sleeping, he was screaming.”

She continues, “Aston was thriving at all his checkups, he was a big boy, loved his milk (would guzzle it down super fast, I later found out that this was a symptom of silent reflux) and growing really well (98th percentile) so when I explained to them what I was experiencing (Aston’s non-stop crying, screwed up face and fists, harsh coughing, extremely fussy on the boob, not sleeping at all) I got the response with a little laugh that motherhood is never easy and babies do cry a lot. They said it was probably colic, and it should get better by the time he was three months.

I then doubted myself and thought I needed to harden up so I didn’t go into a lot of detail with them how hard I was finding it. I knew motherhood wasn’t meant to be easy. It was only early days so I thought it would get better.”

It wasn’t until Nadia hired a night nurse that she finally discovered what was wrong with little Aston.

Nadia reveals, “As soon as she stayed over, she was certain Aston had severe silent reflux. As she could see and hear him struggle with the acid going up and down his tract. Finally, an answer. I googled like crazy and Aston fitted the ‘silent reflux’ description to a tee. I didn’t initially think of reflux because he wasn’t spitting up, but silent reflux is different, they have no spit up.

So think of the worst possible heartburn you have ever experienced, but then put it in a newborn babies body #ouch

The ring of the muscle between the oesophagus and the stomach is not yet mature in babies, so it is unable to hold stomach contents down. With silent reflux babies then swallow the stomach contents. The problem is that the stomach contents are acidic, so it burns on the way up and back down and is super painful for them.

I ended up making a doctor’s appointment and explaining what I thought and he assessed Aston and said he had silent reflux.”

Nadia went on to share her top tips to help reduce the symptoms:

  • Aston started taking Losec, it was prescribed by the doctor.  (our boys both tried Losec and had little relief, we were then moved on to Zantac)
  • Gaviscon and Mylanta, we worked the Gaviscon into a paste and gave it to Aston before his feeds
  • We swapped his formula to Goats milk as it is far more gentle on the stomach, he was only taking about one bottle of formula a day until I stopped feeding at six months.
  • At six months we then moved him to Aptamil Allerpro gold +- which is gentle on babies with a protein allergy, so perfect for babies with silent reflux
  • I saw the incredible Dr David McRae in Armadale. Yes, he is a chiropractor, which I know can freak people out. (We also saw a fantastic chiropractor for both our boys and found it did give them small relief.)
  • Prop the cot up, to help keep that acid down. We do recommend you follow SIDS advice for safe sleeping recommendations.

As Nadia mentioned for her son Aston, we also noticed that at around seven to eight months the silent reflux seemed to disappear. Introducing solids from around three and half months old seemed to really help with the reflux. We followed this advice from our Paed. Solids really help to keep the acid down.

We also found as the boys were sitting up more and becoming more mobile it helped to settle the reflux down.

Nadia wants parents to keep in mind, “Remember, never feel apprehensive to consult your doctor, because no one knows your baby better than you do.”

Read the full post on Chronicles of Nadia.

I seriously could have written that same post word for word. Silent reflux really does make you doubt yourself and feel like you have totally failed your poor tiny baby.

Have you had a similar struggle with silent reflux?

Share your comments below.

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  • this can be hard to deal with and i feel sorry for any parent and bubba

    Reply

  • Have never heard of this before. Thank heavens all my babies were OK and didn’t have it – doubt that any doctors would have diagnosed then.

    Reply

  • I have heard of reflux but not silent reflux. It’s such a terrible thing for a baby and their parents to go through

    Reply

  • The baby of a friend of mine had it. She was so bad she started gasping for breath and to be rushed to hospital. Specially mixed medication was given for about 3 months. Prior to that if the baby slept through for 3 or 4 hours her parents actually got some unbroken sleep, but very little of it.

    Reply

  • I had never heard of silent reflux before this article.

    Reply

  • Thank you for informing everyone as I had never heard of silent reflux and it was always colic or reflux in our day. It is good to let people know as you can feel alone as other babies are sleeping fine and you wonder what you are doing wrong or why your baby is screaming and seems in so much pain. Terribly hard on the parents with a baby suffering from this. Exhausting emotionally and physically.

    Reply

  • Thank goodness I never had to deal with reflux. I feel for parents who do. Its awful for everyone.

    Reply

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