Reflux made the first few months really tough
Emma, Melbourne, Australia
Elliott fed pretty well at first. The midwives were really happy, told me I was doing everything right. I was ok too, I loved the connection and closeness of breastfeeding.
But after a few weeks I really started to struggle. I was feeding all the time, for at least an hour and a half, but he’d lose interest after 15 or 20 minutes, then stay on just for comfort. He was also really pukey. Mum said things weren’t right, but I was so exhausted it was hard to take on any more advice. The midwife seemed happy so I just carried on.
At the next weigh-in, Elliott still wasn’t putting on weight so they took us back into hospital. It was awful. For the first 24-hours I had to feed every three hours and express in between. It was exhausting, but it worked. Elliott put weight on and seemed to settle for a couple of weeks.
But then the screaming started. He would scream for hours on end, 6 - 8 hours every night. It wasn’t a cute “I’m a little bit hungry” cry, it was a full-on scream. We tried loads of things to help - we would take him out in the carry for walks, I tried a dairy-free diet, joined breastfeeding groups for advice, and I expressed from really early on so Cam, my husband, could do top-up feeds. But it didn’t work.
I asked my health visitors - they still said I was doing really well and not to worry. I went to see two GPs but they were pretty dismissive, just said the first few months were tough and that babies cried a lot. I didn’t know how hard to push, whether to challenge them or not. I was still recovering from a pretty hard birth, so I didn’t have the headspace to concentrate or decide for myself, so I just kept on feeding as well as I could, and trying to sooth him when he was upset.
But at the 8-week check he’d lost weight again so we got referred to a paediatrician. Within half an hour with Elliott she told us he had reflux. She couldn’t believe we’d gone on like that for so long. She gave us some medication and advised formula top-ups, and that helped straight away. The medicine didn’t stop him being sick but it neutralised the acid so it wasn’t as painful. He was also reaching the 3-month stage by then so started sleeping better too. Things slowly got easier.
But I was pretty angry, resentful. I’d tried so hard to get help - spoken to doctors and health visitors but they all said things were normal. I feel like they didn’t take me seriously. Now Elliott is 5 months old, Cam and I only take advice from Doctors and health professionals we trust and aren't afraid to ask for a second opinion so we feel confident in the decisions we make. I guess we have the confidence to do that now. But back then I was too exhausted. I didn’t know what was normal or not normal, and it’s really hard to trust your own instinct when you’re so overwhelmed by everything. I love being a parent and have moments where I just feel so proud of everything we’ve done, but I had no idea how hard it would be. No-one tells you that!