I had briefly mentioned in an earlier post that M was on medication for reflux. We have now moved out of that phase and I am so glad. A lot of people, especially new mommies, have been asking me about my experience and here's the post.
At about 4 to 5 weeks of age, I began to notice that M was feeding (she was exclusively breast-fed) too often - sometimes every hour. (I must mention here that from birth M was the kinds to feed very frequently - about every 2 hours - even in the nights she'd get up on her own every 2 hours to feed. The doc confirmed that some babies just do it, you can't really train them or make them not feed frequently. But the hourly feeds seemed a little too much to me.) Her evening feeds used to be painful; - she'd arch her back and scream and then go on sucking for 2-3 hours with little gap in between. Also, especially in the nights, I could almost hear her gulping down even 45 minutes after a feed. She'd get up with a weird expression on her face - something like she has a bad taste in her mouth (However, she never really spat up). Also, she would in that baby-cute way keep clearing her throat so often. We did burp her well, and tried anti-gas medication but nothing really helped. Meanwhile her hiccuping was as strong as ever - almost 20 times a day! I finally took her to the doctor at 6 weeks.
The doc diagnosed her with Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (Silent Reflux). Her pedeatrician was impressed by my instinct/observation because she said that since no spitting up happens in this kind of reflux, most parents ignore all other symptoms. Yeah, I was glad for that but it really did break my heart to have her on medication (Zantac Rx) for almost 4 months from then on. I did taste the medicine and it is yuck - alcohol mixed with mint to give the most disgusting flavor ever. The doctor also said that I would need to feed her as often as M wanted because it was soothing. M never took to the bottle and this condition of hers further discouraged me to use a bottle (more about our bottle battles in a later post) as stress at feeding only worsens reflux.
So commenced the most back breaking (quite literally) weeks ever. There was a lot of cluster feeding - a block of 4 hours in the day or night when M would want to feed every 15 minutes. I'd barely get up for water or juice or to answer nature's call and then be back on duty :). It was like she was treating me like a 24 hour milk bar. Yes, it was very frustrating but the doc gave me the confidence and encouragement to stay on it. Frequent breastfeeding is the fastest way for babies to get over reflux. The killer: even on good days, M would feed hourly for most weeks. One, the fresh feed would soothe the acidic backup and two, the medicine would digest the breast milk even faster, so she was genuinely hungry. Going out was a distant dream: I couldn't plan her feeds so I wouldn't know when she would want to feed and for how long!
Time did pass. At her 4 month checkup, the ped said she was doing well and I could start reducing the dosage. At 6 months we were off Rx! So to all the worried mommas out there, trust me it is a phase that you'll go through only once with your baby, and just when you begin to think it cannot get worse, it will get better. Take my word for it :).