Do I have a broken baby or am I a broken mum?

Each baby is really unique! The same 2 parents can produce very different parents. I can think about myself and my sister, we are worlds apart. She’s sporty, I’m lazy but the geeky and clever one. She’s very feminine, I’m practical. As babies, I was the grumpy one and she was the smiley one. But can’t stop thinking that my mum was lucky.

For the first 3 months they went to visit doctors and non doctors to find why I seemed to be “broken” as I wouldn’t stop crying and couldn’t sleep. Eventually it turns out I was CMPI (Cow’s milk protein intollerance). In those days there was no information on the topic, but my mum was then advised to give me special formula and she gave up on breastfeeding. She was also told that her milk was too weak. Oh mum, if only there was the same information as there is now, and I would have been a breastfeed baby. Apart from that, I slept beautifully and once starting solids I would eat beautifully.

So watching my baby displaying the same behaviours as me: being really curious about everything and enjoying silly stuff like plastics and paper boxes more than any other toy I thought that maybe she could be a bit more like me.

Why doesn’t she eat? Why doesn’t she sleep?

Then by watching her peers and my friends’ babies I came to the conclusion: that’s it, by baby is broken! But then, it hits me very slowly… there’s nothing wrong with her, I’m the one who’s broken!

#1 – If she doesn’t eat it’s because I might be trying the wrong foods
Why am I giving her more solid food? Maybe she just likes soup, more liquid, or maybe it’s too boring for her. That’s it, it’s my fault that I’ve tried foods in squares, rectangles, liquid, less liquid, baby lead weaning, puree, combo or maybe jumping in the air while trying to land with a spoon on her mouth. I’m doing it all wrong!

#2 – If she doesn’t eat it’s probably because I’m still giving her too much milk
How couldn’t I have thought about that earlier? I shouldn’t be feeding her milk, I should just let her understand I’m the adult and until she eats her food (e.g. the solids) she won’t have her favourite food (breastmilk). Instead I let her rule me. Shame on me, I’m a terrible one!

Now let’s talk about sleep

#3 – If she doesn’t sleep it’s because I don’t understand her sleep patterns
If she woke up from her nap (wow she napped??? what sorcery is that?) at 14h and hasn’t sleep ever since, why did I try to put her in bed at 18h30? Why did we bother to keep on trying until 22h30 at which point she gave up and went to sleep? Because we don’t understand that maybe she’s super-baby and doesn’t need any sleep before 22h30. It should be so obvious!

#4 – Or maybe she’s too hot
Why do I dress her in the sleeping bag? She’s probably too hot

#5 – Or maybe she’s too cold
Cold hands? Obviously she’s cold

#6 – Or maybe she’s hungry
Even though every time I go up I pretty much offer her boob, my milk must be just water and she keeps on asking for more. Bad milk! Shame in you mumma!

#7 – It’s because I’m not trying either the right combination of white noise and a sleeping sheep

#8 – It’s because I fart too loud and keep on waking baby

#9 – It’s because daddy snores too loud

Nah, no reasons required really. It’s pretty obvious I’m a silly broken first time mum who doesn’t have a clue on her baby.

I feel so tempted to invite all those parents that are lucky enough that don’t understand that they should celebrate every day the fact their babies eat and sleep well to come over night and see if they can fix her. Something tells me it wouldn’t matter. shhhhh don’t worry I can take the stamp of the broken mum 🙂

 

We are only human

I honestly think that everyone is expecting super mums, who do all the magic stuff and babies sleep beautifully, they also eat so well and they still manage to make the house sparkling clean, so clean you could almost eat from the floor directly. Expectations are so high, that anything below the perfect standards and you are left to feel like such a bad mum.

Once baby is born, everyone will tell you: “oh if you need me, please just ask for help”. I guess it’s the polite thing to say, but most would expect that you will be a super mum and get on with it.

So I think we need to start to talk more about the realities of being a mum (doesn’t matter if just the first baby or many of them). It’s really hard! I thought I could manage stress and difficult situations, as I have a really stressful job, but nothing had prepared me to the perks of being a mum.

The first days I had the baby blues, we were both listening to lullabies and crying like babies at home while staring at her, her perfection and how she was the result of our love. Then reality starts to kick in. The growth spurts, the days with less than 3h sleep in total. I had a few days without any sleep at all as I suffered from insomnia (I believe that was a side effect of my birth trauma and from the general anaesthetics – you can read more here) but ah, the worst was yet to come.

Before I go into detail, I would like to add that because I thought myself of being really resilient and that I could handle pretty much everything (at least on the surface) I never ask for help. I’m the one who typically goes and helps. But maternity changed everything for me. Sometimes we need to admit we’re only human and ask for help.

That situation arrived when he ended up being hospitalised with appendicitis when she was just 3 weeks old. I remember my despair when he called me to stay he would have to stay in the hospital and I wanted to run and meet him there. I was so worried, on the other hand I was at despair because I was not yet ready to take care of her on my own. I still remember that night when I was trying to enter the bus with her pram so I could take some basic stuff for him at the hospital. Had to ask a nurse to look out for her while I would go inside and kiss him. Then returning back home and feeling so powerless. I had tears in my eyes all the way back home. When next day I told a friend about what happened, she offered to come in the afternoon and prepare some food for me. Old me would say, no thank you, I could manage, but new me said for the first time ever, yes please! I was so grateful for her help. No words really! 1 day later, I had to ask for help to another friend so she could help me at night as I had not been sleeping anything and was afraid I would let her fall from my arms. She stayed overnight with me, and was making baby sleep while I was resting in bed until the next feed. Again, no words can describe how this was so important to me and baby.

So yes, in the end we’re only human and it’s ok to ask for help and to admit we need it!!! Any stories you would like to share?

A Breastfeeding journey

I would say that breastfeeding is quite an emotional journey. It’s far more than just what the word says “feeding”. It’s a unique bond between mum & baby and it’s quite an emotional one. Once I discovered I was pregnant I’ve decided that I wanted to breastfeed. I hadn’t defined for how long, just at least the 6 recommended months, but the more time went by the more protective I’ve become of it. I now see myself as a breastfeeding advocate even though it’s really hard!

The first months

They say the first 3 months of breastfeeding are the worst and I have to agree. I was lucky that my little one knew what to do straight away, the fact that she was born low weight and starving probably helped on the matters. I felt really frustrated with the lack of support from the midwifes. Yes they would encourage to breastfeed, fortunately in UK there is a lot of encouragement for mums to start breastfeeding but on the other hand not a lot of support. There were so many things I wish I had known before. In the classes they just tell you “Nose to nipple, wait for the big yawn and go”. My little one never did a big yawn and after the first weeks I was in a lot of pain. I had bloody nipples and had to rely on nipple shields. I thought it was just me being a failure and not being able to master something so simple as “nose to nipple”. Turns out that she had undiagnosed tongue tie. I’m sure I’ve asked at the hospital if she had a tongue tie and was told she was fine. It was thanks to the support of my private midwifes that we’ve identified that she had it.

How to diagnose a tongue tie?
The proper assessment is done by inserting a finger into baby’s mouth and analyse the movements. Only trained midwifes can do a proper assessment

Once the tie was cut nipple shields were gone and the pain was no more

The reflux days

But the journey was far from being an easy one from me.  I thought I had a fast let down, whereby milks comes to fast for baby to handle it and this is why she was suffering from reflux. So I was trying to feed in upright positions (so her head would be above the nipple and beating gravity to handle the fast let down). Also went on dairy and soy free diet for a couple of months in the case she was like me, CMPA (cow’s milk protein intollerance or allergy). She wasn’t. But it takes at least 6 months to see the difference. Because of the reflux I’ve also cut tomato, oranges and any acidic foods. For a couple of months had a really restrict diet, but I was willing to do anything that could potentially help my little one.

Everyone told me: why don’t you get the special reflux formula? Me stop breastfeeding? No way! If it was a dairy problem I could deal with it. It was more than just feeding her, it was our bond together and I was not willing to let that go. And let’s not mention the horrible nights without sleep. Because I was food and comfort, I was the one getting up all the time, sleeping around 2 to 4h per day.

Did you know what if you use breastmilk you can cure a conjunctivitis in around 24h? Oh yeah, the beauty of human milk 🙂

Currently, still a struggle

One of the things I had to do while she had reflux was to pump so I could had a thickener. At 5 months my supply had dropped so much (she had a phase where she was refusing to eat) that it would take me 1h to pump a feed (around 120ml / 4oz). Did I say how much I hate pumping? I do, with all my heart! Also she wasn’t getting much weight, so at this point even my dear one started to say we should give her formula so she would get weight.

Once I went back to work at 6 months my supply dropped even more and then I had no other option but to pump during work. I’ve been trying power pumping and teas, and trying to drink loads of water to keep the supply coming, but it has been hard. At around 7 months I had used all my frozen stack and was in tears when he told me he had to give her formula for the first time as I was still at work. I felt like a failure, that my milk was no longer enough to hold her. Fortunately she takes bottle really well and it’s a pleasure for me that she actually prefers my milk to the formula (a few times she will reject formula). My family is like: “why are you still feeding her? she’s 8 months now, you’ve done your best already for 6 months”. But oh, it’s so much more that just a feed matter.

Booby juice is the best!


Breastmilk adjusts to the baby needs, can become fatter or more watery depending on what baby needs. If someone sneezes, mum’s milk will start to produce more antibodies to protect baby from infection.

Breastmilk protects baby’s developing immune system and it’s said that breastfed babies will be sick a bit less than formula fed babies even though they tend to be lower in size.

Breastfed babies will tend to be less fussy children in the future as they get used to different flavours through mum’s milk (this one doesn’t feel quite true at the moment for us as she’s really fussy but oh well)

Then the fact that I’m holding her to offer boob it’s more than just feed her. It’s to offer her comfort and knowing that I’ll always be there for her. It’s love and protection! Everyone keeps on praising me for her being such a happy baby. I’m sure she wouldn’t be like that if I would let her cry or just send him to give her a bottle as opposed to mum’s cuddles.

Yes I am tired. Yes I am exhausted. It’s so bloody hard to go to work with just a few hours sleep. Yes it’s hard this dependency on me to make her sleep and comfort her. But I’m not willing to stop, not for as long as I can keep some supply up!

Are you breastfeeding? How is it going for you?

My baby is a fussy eater, now what?

How many of you are in this situation? Well I certainly am! She started solids at 6 months although she had sweet potato pure at around 5m as recommended by the ped to ease the reflux.

I’ve started with soups / vegetable purees but it seems that she only wants fruits. Maybe the culprit is that at 6 months she tried banana and since then she can’t stand any spoon feeding, any purees or whatsoever.

I’m doing combo between Baby Lead Weaning and classic puree style. At the nursery they just do purees, at home I try pretty much anything to try to get her into eating. (You can read more about both methods here)

Her ped told me that she definitely needs at least 3 solid meals. Breakfast, lunch and dinner with some finger foods in the middle. As for finger foods / snacks it’s easy as she is a fruit lover. I’ve also introduced yogurt with her fruits to give her more fat. But the meals are a pain. Every day I try to offer something new she can try on and just move away from dried fruits / nuts / seafood / honey.

Each baby is different really, so you need to adapt and keep on trying until you find what your baby prefers. My little one even dislikes breakfast cereal which is quite sweet! I’m the one who ends up eating 99% of what I had prepared for her.

I haven’t found a method that works, but keep on trying and always speak to the ped for guidance if you are concerned. Most important thing is to give variety of vegetables / meat / fish / fruits / cereals and a bit of dairy.

A really good post on introducing solids here

Starting Solids

If there’s one thing that I’ve been finding complicated is the introduction of solids. Mostly because there are loads of different rules and hard to know which one would work for you and your baby.

The well know recommendation is to start solids at 6 months for a couple of reasons:

  • That’s the point baby’s stomach has matured enough to be able to accept solids;
  • It’s also the age where baby will be able to sit unaided
  • Baby will be losing the gag reflex – the reflex that makes it to throw everything that touches the tongue
  • Baby will also start showing interest for food

Some doctors will recommend starting early for specific reasons. I was recommended the introduction of solids at around 4 months because of her reflux. I’ve kept it to sweet potato pure only, once a day, but then stopped it completely because it made more sense to follow the overall recommendation.

Then the funny part starts, how to start?

There’s 2 main approaches (ok maybe 3). The first is the classical introduction of food via purees, and the second is Baby Lead Weaning.

: Classical Approach :

You’ll start with some vegetables and pure them into a yogurt like consistency. If you have allergies in the family you should introduce 1 food at a time and wait around 2 days before introducing another one to check for reactions. If not you can start more in 1 go. I would say focus on vegetables first without introducing fruits, because babies, like adults, have a sweet tooth, so they will prefer sweet food and start rejecting everything else. Even though I’ve waited, the moment she discovered fruits she has been rejecting everything else pretty much! As baby grows you start to add more lumpy textures and more food overall.

: Baby Lead Weaning :

It’s quite trendy at the moment and pretty much says to not touch the purees at all, as baby will get confused and increase the risk of chocking and just let him grab the food and learn the chew himself, at his own pace. The idea behind it is baby will start to develop the necessary skills which will help him throughout childhood. Also the other advantage is to keep it simple and let baby enjoy what the family eats (as long as you avoid salt, sugar and honey).

What I’m following?

: Combo Approach :

I try everything pretty much. She enjoys the feeling of independence when she grabs her own food, but mostly she plays with it and doesn’t eat as much. She prefers the flavours when they are not pureed. The only thing she accepts with the spoon is fruit. Also, at the nursery they follow the classical approach. A lot of mums are doing the same and they find that baby doesn’t get confused. Anyway, babies can also choke with milk!

How much should baby eat?

Milk is still the main source of nutrition for babies up until they are 1 year old, so keep the milk feeds untouched. As for the food, offer as much as baby can handle. I know a lot of people say food before 1 is just for fun, but it’s actually not. After 6 months mum’s milk is not enough to provide all the levels of iron required. So baby needs meat / fish / vegetables and fruit. Try to start with lunch time, then add breakfast and try to offer an early dinner as well. And don’t forget to encourage baby to drink a lot of water otherwise they will get really constipated. My little one rejects pretty much everything, so she’s been constipated.

Ultimately you need to find what works for you and your baby. Follow your gut, you know your baby best, so if you believe something isn’t right just visit a doctor.

Any stories you would like to share regarding the introduction of solids? What method worked for you?

Why isn’t my baby sleeping through the night?

There is so much pressure on us mums about how much babies sleep. Specially after baby reaches the age of 3 months most people will ask: Is your baby sleeping through the night? Because you also have friends with babies that do indeed sleep through the night from 3 months onwards you will feel depressed. Yap, this is clearly me.

As you know, we’ve been battling reflux, which obviously affected her sleep. She would wake up in pain and need lots of cuddles and love to feel protected and go back to sleep. During the first few months I’ve only managed to sleep 3 to 4h a day and she was sleeping a total of 8h total max, mostly broken down by 30m naps on my lap. At 2 months she started to sleep longer and currently she can sleep 10 to 11h at night with lots of breaks in the middle. I am exhausted and feel I don’t have a life. All I do is function around making her sleep and trying to sleep myself. What I call a really good night many mums would say it’s a bad one.

As I write this, I’m over the moon that she had 3 good nights in a row (at 6 months). A good night for me sounds like this:

  • 19h Bath and final play time
  • 19h30 Feeding
  • 20h After a few tries and lots of cuddling she’s in bed
  • 00h Wakes for feeding back to bed before 00h30
  • 03h Wakes up again, feeding and more cuddle and goes to be before 03h30
  • 07h / 07h30 Wake up, nappy change, feed and take her to nursery

I’ve only moved her to her own room at 6 months, as the recommendation is for babies to sleep in the same room as the parents for the first 6 months. I found out that she’s a really light sleeper like both of us, so she was benefiting for a bit more quiet. Both her door and our room is opened so at the minimum noise I can hear her, but she’s not bothered if one of us snores or moves a bit more aggressively in bed. She still wakes at night, but it’s ok. When she’s ready to sleep through the night I’m sure she will because she loves sleeping, it’s just she can’t do it for long yet.

Most people are telling me to give her formula (which I’ll have to since I’m running out of frozen bags as I can’t pump as much as she feeds) or to let her cry out to see if she learns to sleep herself. When she’s happy she can fall asleep on her own, so if she gets distressed she’ll end up getting awake and then harder to help her sleep, so I don’t do let it cry it out (CIO).

Also, wanted to share with you a really interesting video I just found out which gives us a bit more comfort that is normal for babies to wake up at night, but it also prevents SIDS. At some point before she’s 3 years I hope she will be ready to sleep through the night, until then I need to be ready for boobing and extra cuddles.

Mum and baby Yoga

During my maternity leave I’ve always made a effort to go out with baby Em. It was as important for her as it was for me, to feel more like an adult and a person that can do things. It wasn’t always easy because she cried loads and would vomit herself so often that all I did was to change her  before being able to leave through the door.

After reading a bit online I found that the studio where I did the Pregnancy Yoga (you can read all about it here) also had Mum & Baby classes. You could clearly see there was a baby boom at this point as the classes were overbooked. Fortunately some people managed to move to the older babies class (above 6 months) and I’ve managed to get a place.

During the first few classes she behaved a lot better that I thought she would. She was really active and all she wanted was to move around (she can’t roll yet). Most of the other babies would fall asleep on the journey to yoga, so mums could do a bit more relaxation. It was also the first time she saw other babies and she loved it. For me, I had a bit of time to stretch my legs and do stretching exercises which all new mums will need to.

Since at this point I had to keep her upright on my lap for at least 30m after a feed, it was good to discover other positions I could do that would help me do some exercise and keep her entertained. Her favourite part was the nursery rhymes. Her favourite one is “head shoulders knees and toes” mostly because it’s one where I touch her and she loves it.

I didn’t attend the final 2 classes as she had really  bad nights and the class time was at the point where she was too exhausted.

Benefits from Mum and Baby Yoga

  • For the mum I would say the best one is that you’ll have an opportunity to meet other mums and stretch! It’s also great for your emotional well being as it’s quite a relaxing experience. Everyone is on the same boat so you’ll feel you can let go. It’s another beautiful way to bond with your baby.
  • For the baby, he’ll get to meet other babies and spend good quality time with mum. The gentle exercises will be a good foundation for when he grows and it’s said to help digestive system, as some exercises are tailored to teach mums how to help them if they suffer from colic. It keeps baby happy through the soothing sounds and nursery rhymes. They also say baby will sleep better, but in my case this wasn’t through.

It’s a shame that there are  no classes over the weekend because I would love to carry on a bit longer with these classes. Once I start to sleep a bit better I’m planning to go back to normal yoga and start to have a bit more me time.

Have you experienced Mum & Baby Yoga? What are your thoughts on it? Did you found it helpful?

Back at work

Ah time flies and little one is now 6 months old. That means I’m back at work. A lot of people have asked me how does it feel to be back at work, with all honesty it’s a mixture of feelings. From one hand feels like holidays because you’re doing adult stuff and having intelligent conversations and you’re likely to do stuff that is interesting for you, so time flies without you even noticing. In the first few days don’t expect to be productive, I’ve spent a lot of time talking to people as oppose to be doing any work. Only more than 1 week on and I’m starting to adapt, but I’m sure there will still be a lot of conversations to be held in the corridor.

On the other hand I miss my little one the moment I kiss her to leave the house. I miss her smile and her giggles and all I want is to be back home and hold her again.

Common worries when you’re back at work

#1 – Where will I leave my baby?
Only a few of us are lucky enough to have someone from the family that can take care of baby while we go back to work. I’m surely not that case as my family is miles away from me. In my particular case I’ve decided for a nursery which is pretty much next door because they offer a lot of activities and there are lots of other babies around. Also, because it’s a nursery, you have more confidence that they will not mistreat your baby. A childminder is a cheaper option and takes care of less kids but to me it would have to be someone I trust. As I didn’t had any recommendations in my area I went for nursery.

You can read more on this article if you want to find the best childcare for you

#2 – If you are breastfeeding, how will you keep your supply?
This is something I’ve been struggling myself. In ideal world you should pump as often as baby would feed. The reality for most of us is that it’s irrealistic. My little one feeds between 5 to 10m and I can’t take the same quantity out of the pump in the same time. It would take me around 1h to get the same quantity. If you can try to pump twice. Once around lunch time and another mid afternoon before you leave. I also feed her just before I leave the house and will feed her once I arrive. She still has all the nightfeeds as well. You also need to check how many feeds she would have while you’re away and try to pump them. I’ve worked out that I would need 5 feeds (as it takes me 2h commute) but I’m only getting 3 max. Fortunately I had a good collection of frozen bags but will run out pretty soon.

In UK, employers are obliged to provide you enough time and conditions for you to breastfeed or pump. In my company I was provided with a small fridge and I also have a room in the health centre which I can use to pump comfortably. For transport I use a cooler bag with a freezer bar inside.

#3 – How will I be able to function without any sleep?
I ask that question myself every day and somehow I do. Little one wakes up at least 4 times at night and I don’t get more than 3h sleep in a row. Most likely it’s just 1h sleep before she wakes up again and needs me. I’ve left my boss know about this situation, so they’ve been really considerate and protective about my workload. Be realistic with what you can and can’t do. For example I was supposed to have enlisted myself for promotion and work out all the business case to get there, but was not going to have the time or head to do it, so I’ve said straight once getting back at work that it was something I wasn’t going to do.

#4 – What happens if the little one gets sick?
This is exactly the stage where I am now. Less than 1 week at the nursery I received the call… yes you will start shaking your legs and stop breathing once you receive a call from the nursery (or your child care provider), in my case it was diarrhoea so had to take her home as it could be a stomach bag. She’s been pooing loads so she has been at home with us. Fortunately both of us can actually work from home – although doing some actual work has been a challenge because she’s really demanding. So this is again something you need to discuss upfront with your employer because they will get sick loads and you won’t be able to keep on taking holidays every time they get sick.

Any other tips you would like to share? Any questions you would like me to answer?

5 things I wish I knew about Breastfeeding

Once I discovered I was pregnant one thing became really clear to me: I wanted to breastfeed. It’s brilliant that in UK most midwifes really advocate for breastfeeding to encourage mums to go on. Some of my friends might argue that they’ve become breastfeeding nazis and don’t really understand that in some instances Mums have no choice but to go to formula.

Whatever your choice is: A feed baby is the important thing, regardless of how!

Anyway, I thought that breastfeeding was going to be a lot easy. When you watch in the movies everything seems to smooth and easy but it’s not easy at all. I went to a breastfeeding class, provided by the NHS so I thought I new it all:

  1. Nose to nipple
  2. Wait for the big yawn
  3. Push baby into the breast

Sounds pretty straightforward but it’s not

#1 You need a lot of support in order to start a good breastfeeding journey, from the moment baby is born
I was lucky enough to be followed by a private midwife (well, lucky that I could afford it), so they’ve really ensured that my breastfeeding wish was going to be met. I was still in “coma” and my baby was already at my breast having a decent feed. In my case it also helped that she was starving, as she had not been fed properly inside my belly for the last 4 weeks. She was born with only 2.5kg (5.5lb) and all she wanted was to feed. In fact, the first person to hold her was my other half and she went to search for his nipples. So whereas some babies, like mine, will be born hungry and wanting to feed in most cases they probably just had a main meal and are to amazed by being outside and are not interested in feeding.

Many mums will give up on breastfeeding because they don’t get the correct support especially in the first hours when they are still in pain.

#2 Skin to skin is crucial in the first hour of baby’s life
Even though it seems babies are born knowing exactly what to do, they need to be guided as well. One big piece of advice I was giving while pregnant was: “skin to skin”. As soon baby is born just go ahead and do it. Bond together for at least a good hour. The benefits are incredible for both mum and baby. Both will calm down and get used to each other. Oxytacin (the “one hormone” to rule them all) will kick in helping with the milk production. Baby will eventually follow the clues and start to search for the breast once he wants to feed.

#3 There are a few things that might complicate the whole journey…. tongue tie
Normally at the hospital they are supposed to check if baby has tongue tie, as it does complicate breastfeeding a lot, but in some cases babies are not diagnosed and then mum ends up in pain and baby feels frustrated because he can’t feed efficiently. My little one had posterior tongue tie and it was only diagnosed because my nipples were absolutely in pain and getting damaged. She ended up drinking blood and I was really struggling with the pain. To cope with it, I was using nipple shields, but nipple shields decrease the milk production. In the end, because she had lip tie she was checked by a private midwife, they’ve analysed how she was moving her tongue and there she was, she had it! Once she was snipped I’ve managed to get rid of the nipple shields. Tongue tie tends to lead to inefficient feedings and a lot of air swallowing which triggers colic and potentially reflux as well. So if no matter what you do baby doesn’t latch properly and you have sore nipples you might want to check for lip tie.

#4 Growth spurts might make you believe your milk is not enough
Here’s a thing I knew nothing about… growth spurts. Growth spurts are associated to development leaps. Typically baby will sleep a lot a few days before and then have a few days of eating all the time. Many mums will take this as a sign that her supply is not good enough or the classic: you’re milk is not nutritious enough for your baby. Growth spurts are precisely to increase supply. It takes around 2 days for mum’s supply to adjust to the babies needs, so babies knowing they will be needing more milk they ask mum in advance so production has time to catch up. It’s absolutely normal. You will feel really tired and exhausted but it will pass! The main ones are on the first days at home, 7 to 10 days, 2 to 3 weeks, 4 to 6 weeks, 4 months, 6 months and 9 months but each baby is different. For instance my little one has her first growth spurts earlier than the calendar above and I haven’t noticed anything around 4 months. But if you noticed one, don’t give up, it’s just your baby making a request for milk he will only need in the future.

#5 Food restrictions
Whereas most mums can eat pretty much what they want as long as they try to maintain a healthy diet – which is hard considering you’ll be hungry all time and no time to prepare stuff, some of us have to be careful with the food. Cows Milk Intolerance or Allergy (CMPI / CMPA) is quite common, so if your baby has eczema, colics or reflux you might want to go 6 weeks dairy / soy free (since the protein is very similar anyway) to see if your baby improves. In the case of reflux you’ll have to cut all acidic food. You should also restrict coffee and chocolate consumption. I thought I would be able to eat pretty much everything once baby was born…. had no idea I would have to be so restricted but it’s for a good cause. Some mums have no other choice but to sweet to a specific formula.

So if you’re planning to breastfeed good luck!!! Hope you get the support your need.

You can find more information here and here. Also your health centre will also host weekly breastfeeding support groups.

Any experiences you would like to share? Was it easy for you?

Baby Reflux

Oh yes, my favourite topic, reflux….. I wish I knew nothing about this topic but it’s now a matter close to my heart.

What is baby reflux?
All babies suffer in some shape or form and it’s linked with the stomach maturity. Pretty much after a feed the contents travel back from the stomach and babies spit up a little bit, in some cases it’s mostly identified due to the amount of vomit after a feed. For most babies this is not a problem, it’s just means a bit more washing to do. For some babies though, there are other symptoms which make the matters worse because there’s a lot of acid coming up as well which burns the oesophagus and all the way to the throat.

Reflux and Silent Reflux
There are 2 types of reflux. The first type, which ends up being easier to diagnose is mostly identified by the amount of vomit. But there’s also Silent Reflux, where baby doesn’t vomit but seems to bring the contents up anyway and a lot of acid which causes a lot of pain.

Reflux is NOT colic
I get cross when people tell me reflux is normal. Yes, I understand it’s normal, but not when it causes so much pain to the baby. Most of the times parents don’t even know the baby has reflux (especially if it comes as silent reflux) because GP’s just say it’s colic and that it will get better. But this is not the case all the time. In some cases it requires medication and further support from a gastro paediatrician.

The best way I find to distinguish between colic and reflux is watching out the body. When it’s colic, babies tend to bring their legs up to their stomach. When they are suffering from reflux they get really stiff, you can’t bend their legs at all and they tend to arch their backs a lot and potentially starting to refuse feeds.

When is reflux a problem?

  • Regurgitation -If vomiting becomes more forceful (projectile), looks green or yellow-ish in colour or looks to have blood in it.
  • Exceeds one year of age – If you are still seeing reflux issues after one is over a year.
  • Feeding issues – If your baby can’t feed.
  • Losing weight, or poor weight gain – If he or she starts to lose weight or you see that the weight gain on your babies growth chart is poor.
  • Unusual changes?? – If you see any changes that worry you or anything gets worse.
  • Extreme crying – He or she won’t stop crying for long periods of time or is very distressed.

There are 2 ways babies start to handle reflux, either they start rejecting feeds because they link feeding with pain, or they do comfort feeding where they don’t stop feeding because the milk helps to neutralise the acid. But if they drink too much it makes matters worse.

What can you do to deal with reflux
Before you go down the medication route (which I have avoided for a long time) there are a couple of changes you can try to introduce:

  • Try to feed in upright positions
  • After a feed ensure you burp your baby (this is valid for colic too) and keep him upright for at least 30m. Yes, at night too!!! (I can tell you this is so hard because it breaks your sleep completely)
  • Raise your cot so your baby is sleeping at an angle. There are some pillows too such as the wedgehog which are placed bellow the mattress. As my cot is round, it’s not easy to raise it up by the feet so I use a wedgehog. This helps the acid not to come all the way up while baby sleeps
  • Avoid changing nappies after a feed (during the first 30m) and when doing so, try to keep baby at an angle. This is really hard if it’s a poo, because then you have to decide whether to change immediately and baby to vomit a lot or to try to hold on the 30m.
  • Dress light clothing and be careful around the belly area

If you are breastfeeding be careful with your food too. Avoid any acidic foods such as tomato, oranges and so on.

What if the steps above are not working, what else can I do?
If none of the steps above are working, I would look into Cows Milk Intolerance or Allergy (CMPI / CMPA). This tends to be one of the culprits from reflux. If you are breastfeeding you’ll have to cut all dairy from your diet for 6 weeks and believe me, there’s milk everywhere!!!! Some babies will also react to Soya as the protein is very similar. If your baby is in pain and you’re not sleeping believe me it’s worth the try. If you are formula feeding, try to find a dairy free formula.

If cutting dairy doesn’t help, the next step is to try a thicker. A lot of the GPs will prescribe Gaviscon, but it’s quite common that it will cause constipation, hence baby will have pain anyway. But there are other thickeners such as Carobel or Thick and Easy. I would try a normal thickener before trying Gaviscon.

If nothing else works and you need to ask for medication, I would film your baby and show it to GP, as GPs tend to ignore reflux and dismiss it by saying it’s colic. You know your baby best, if you believe it’s not colic keep on fighting for it.

Reflux Medication
In UK at least, the following medication is available:

  • Omeoprazole (PPI blocker) – stops the acid production at the stomach. It seems to work with a lot of babies whereas others react to it. My little one seem to suffer from stomach pain. Other side effects are sleep disturbance. This is weight dependent, so as your baby gains weight the dosage will have to increase. There is a liquid version of it, which makes it easier to give it to babies.
  • Ranitidine (H2 blocker) – There are several compositions of ranitidine. Ranitidine acts as an anti-acid and helps to deal with the acid pain. Ranitidine is also weight dependent. The simplest version of ranitidine (the 5ML / 5mg) seems to have less side effects – mainly diarrhoea – but it’s also quite expensive. A bottle of 100ML costs around ÂŁ100, so GPs are quite reluctant to prescribe it.
  • Domperidone (Zantac) – This one accelerates digestion, which in turn helps to reduce the amount of food that comes up. Unlike the other 2, this can’t be prescribed by GPs as it can lead to heart problems. If you have heart issues in the family it’s not recommended.

Each baby is different so some babies might need a combination of the meds above. I would say that whereas you might need the meds to help your baby to cope with the pain and eat better, you should try to understand what’s triggering your babies reflux. In many cases it’s linked to food intolerance, allergies and you’ll require paediatrician support to get there.

I’m still fighting to get somewhere with my little one, as she refuses feeds and struggles to sleep – and I’m a zombie mum – but hopefully will get to the bottom of it all. All I can say is good luck if your little one has reflux and trust your gut. Keep on fighting until you have answers!

If you want to know more about reflux please check the Living with Reflux community. There is also a facebook group which is really supportive!