It has dawned on me last night, I am a survivor. A baby reflux survivor! I did it with Emma, 4 years ago and I am doing it now again. So that makes me almost an expert. And I thought I would put together 10 tips for people who are going through this terrible thing right now, so they can take heart.
1. Set a survival plan in place. Once George was diagnosed with reflux three weeks ago I knew I had to have a plan in place. I got my mum over to help me during the day so I can rest and survive the nights. If you have/had a reflux baby you know that the emotional strain is enormous, since the pain is there constantly. There is no feeding or sleeping pattern as such so everything is random and unpredictable, which makes things really tough. You need consistency and the only one you can get during these tough months is the one you create for yourself. I take time to rest during the day now, even for an hour and also take time to blog. Luxury? No. For me it is a coping mechanism and a way to release all this pent-up anxiety I have within me.
2. Help your baby sleep
I knew from last time that a sleep wedge helps a reflux baby sleep better. Not sleep through the night. Not sleep without waking up in agony every so often. But sleep a bit better in a proper bed. So we bought a Tucker wedge this time and it has brought a bit of relief to him and to my conscience since before he would have slept either on his tummy or in his car seat.
Also, I have found that swaddling and rocking in the pram help Georgie rest. My mum does the rocking during the day when he is unsettled so that he doesn’t get overtired and frantic.
3. Ask for help I have asked friends several times to take Emma over for a night and she goes to a childminder three days a week.
4. Ditch the guilt During the first few weeks I was terribly guilt ridden as I was trying to be everything for everybody. It can’t be done! So stop beating yourself up.Over being shouty. Over being nasty to your hubby. Over not seeing people in Tesco’s or not feeling like talking to them. Over not being able to put your older one to bed like you used to. Over her playing on her own most days. Over missing her GB class,once again. Over losing the plot and wanting to put the baby out for a few hours so you can sleep.
5. Don’t pick fights with the loved ones We do tend to pick on each other when stressed and tired. But it doesn’t really help anyone. All it does it create more tension and alienate you from the ones you love most. Try explaining yourself and your feelings in a calm manner. If you can’t, just avoid talking until you are calm.
6. Look after yourself I had to go on antidepressants. A thing I would have never envisaged myself doing before. But I know I am not myself. I can hear myself. I can feel the tension and anxiety pour out of myself at times. I can feel the anger and the pain overwhelm me at times. And I did it so I can get back to who I am. To find myself again.
I also found that taking time off, even to get out to get a coffee or do a bit of shopping by myself, helps enormously. It takes my mind off what is my reality at the moment and helps me see normality and gives me hope that soon I will be there myself.
Rest when you can. As I said above, rest is part of my survival plan. It helps me think straight again and allows me to look after myself and the rest of the family. As Emma says it: “When you are not tired mummy, you are kind. You are not shouty.”
7. Don’t lose hope Although I believe in God I must confess, I have days when I really struggle with the “whys”. That is why I try and listen to Christian music when I can.Or read a Bible study specifically geared on encouragement. So I can be reminded that there is a reality that is bigger than my own. A God that is stronger than myself. A healer that can still touch my baby and heal him in a flash. And until He does, a reminder that everything has an end and He can sustain me through everything.
8. Take one day at the time For a reflux baby, there are good days, bad days and extremely bad days. You can’t predict them so the wisest thing to do is to take it as it comes. Don’t plan too much ahead so you don’t get disappointed. Just go with it and if you have the random good day, take advantage of it! Go for a walk, have a play in the park, go out for pizza.
9. Trust yourself The lack of sleep and the constant crying can leave a mum seriously doubting herself. “Am I doing the right thing for my baby?” In most cases, I would say you do. Unfortunately, it is not in your hands to relieve your child’s pain but I am sure that, like me, you do everything in your power to make him comfortable and safe. You can’t ask more of yourself.
10. Seek medical help for your little one I knew from when we had Emma and her reflux that medication can be prescribed for these cases. Georgie is on medication since last Friday but they prescribed it to him in adult form. To spare expenses…So I will need to go back on Friday and ask for it in a suspension form, much easier to administer for a small bubba.
There is a protocol in place and reflux babies are put on infant Gaviscon and Carobel before moving onto stronger stuff. Just persist and ask your GP for a pediatrician referral if things are bad and don’t let them put you down. Your child needs you to speak and intercede for him and you need to knock doors down, if need be, in order to make sure he is getting that extra help.
And remember, it will eventually pass. Everything does, good and bad…