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Reflux - breastfeed or formula

Discussion in 'Parenting' started by hmummy, Aug 16, 2011.

  1. Hi,
    I'm looking for some advice from any mums who have had to deal with reflux as to whether it may be best to switch to formula as doc had advised.
    My DS is 2 months old and was diagnosed with reflux a few weeks ago. I was given quite a lot of advice from doctors about feeding him every 3 hours or so (i was overfeeding him thinking he was hungry after each vomiting session), keeping him elevated, holding him upright after feeds for 30 minutes etc. I was also prescribed Domperidone for him which is supposed to help the milk travel through his system faster.
    I have been trying these suggestions and he has improved. He has also been consistently putting on weight which makes me less concerned as he seems to be thriving apart from the discomfort every now and again from the reflux. I had to stop giving him the medication quite early on as it made it worse; he would be in so much more discomfort and taking milk out more than without the medication.
    At a follow up appointment today, the doc suggested that when he turns 3 months, I should start giving him formula as it's heavier and will help. However, after thinking about it and reading up, it seems that formula may not actually help - from what I have read, as it is thicker, it will stay in his tummy so less spit-up but will get digested slower than breastmilk. I know reflux is one of those things you just have to wait out until it resolves itself.
    The real issue is that I love breastfeeding. I have absolutely nothing against parents who formula feed and respect their choice but I truly do enjoy it and don't really want to stop. With my DD I bf until she was 16 months and feel she really benefitted from it. I also go back to work at 3 months (working abroad) and although it would be convenient to give him formula, I have no problems expressing as I did with my DD (back at work at 5 months). I guess the question I have is do the benefits of formula feeding outweigh the benefits of breastfeeding?
    Are there any mums out there who have been in this situation? Please could you share your thoughts?
    Thank you!
     
  2. Hi,
    I'm looking for some advice from any mums who have had to deal with reflux as to whether it may be best to switch to formula as doc had advised.
    My DS is 2 months old and was diagnosed with reflux a few weeks ago. I was given quite a lot of advice from doctors about feeding him every 3 hours or so (i was overfeeding him thinking he was hungry after each vomiting session), keeping him elevated, holding him upright after feeds for 30 minutes etc. I was also prescribed Domperidone for him which is supposed to help the milk travel through his system faster.
    I have been trying these suggestions and he has improved. He has also been consistently putting on weight which makes me less concerned as he seems to be thriving apart from the discomfort every now and again from the reflux. I had to stop giving him the medication quite early on as it made it worse; he would be in so much more discomfort and taking milk out more than without the medication.
    At a follow up appointment today, the doc suggested that when he turns 3 months, I should start giving him formula as it's heavier and will help. However, after thinking about it and reading up, it seems that formula may not actually help - from what I have read, as it is thicker, it will stay in his tummy so less spit-up but will get digested slower than breastmilk. I know reflux is one of those things you just have to wait out until it resolves itself.
    The real issue is that I love breastfeeding. I have absolutely nothing against parents who formula feed and respect their choice but I truly do enjoy it and don't really want to stop. With my DD I bf until she was 16 months and feel she really benefitted from it. I also go back to work at 3 months (working abroad) and although it would be convenient to give him formula, I have no problems expressing as I did with my DD (back at work at 5 months). I guess the question I have is do the benefits of formula feeding outweigh the benefits of breastfeeding?
    Are there any mums out there who have been in this situation? Please could you share your thoughts?
    Thank you!
     
  3. Hey hmummy
    My LO has suffered from reflux and I know just how disheartening it can be - to spend all that time feeding, only to have them throw it all back out.
    Whilst I can't really help as I switched to formula at 8 weeks - more so that OH could take some of the burden and reflux wasn't a problem for us until 14 weeks or so, I was going to suggest maybe combination feeding.
    Perhaps you could give a couple of oz of formula and then top up with a bf - or even the other way round. It might be also good to get your LO used to a bottle so that when it comes to weaning, there will be less of a problem.
    Either way, I hope you get something sorted - reflux is nasty.
    x
     
  4. hi lilypot,
    Thanks for the quick reply. It is really disheartening and until he was diagnosed with it, I hated seeing all that milk coming back out. I think it's helped knowing theres's a reason behind it.
    He will be taking a couple of bottles when I go back to work in a few weeks so that shouldn't be a problem. I am a bit worried that if I combination feed, my supply may dwindle. I am interested in the idea of topping up his feeds with formula rather than eliminate a bf altogether though!
    I shouldn't complain about this but his feeds literally last ten minutes max- I only offer one breast throughout a whole feed as I ended up with serious engorgement and block feeding helped me to balance out the supply. I don't know if this helps with his reflux or not but he seems to fill up quite quickly and stay full up.
    Thanks for your help!
     
  5. If you enjoy breastfeeding, I would absolutely stick to breastfeeding! There are so many other reasons to carry it on (besides it being lovely and so much more convenient than bottles - all that faff!) My sister's baby has had severe problems with reflux (he was growth restricted in utero, six weeks premature, tube fed for two weeks) and she has never managed to breastfeed him, but instead exclusively expressed for bottlefeeding. She has NEVER been advised to go with formula by any of the (many) consultants she has seen. I'm only telling you this, because the advice you had is not advice I've heard anywhere else, and I am extremely sceptical about GPs advice, especially about little ones and their feeding problems. As so much with looking after babies it seems to be guess work and them just telling you what they think you want to hear.
    On the other hand, it doesn't sound like you have much of a problem with your supply, so I'm guessing mixed feeding at this stage wouldn't be a big problem. You already have bf well established. I found bf to be more flexible than you might think - once I went back to work, I fed at the weekends, and sometimes in the afternoon if I was home early enough and didn't have any problems with that (although that was later on - once I'd started weaning) And if you did think your supply was diminishing, you could always build it back up again through expressing etc.
    Good luck, and I hope the reflux resolves itself quickly.
     
  6. I think that the doctor is talking nonsense. A lot of people do switch, like my SIL for this reason but the reflux made her hate breastfeeding. My nephew continued to be sick after every feed on formula. If you are happy with breastfeeding then stick to that.
     
  7. My baby had/has reflux - I was exclusively breastfeeding and then switched to combination feeding to keep up with LO's demand and to give myself a bit of a break. Realistically, I couldn't see it at the time as got a bit hung up on breastfeeding but the reflux was exacerbated by breastfeeding. Don't get me wrong, formula was not a panacea - my LO still has reflux at 6 months but formula did agree with him better than breastfeeding. I gave up breastfeeding (not due to reflux) as few weeks ago. Personally, I don't agree that breastmilk is 'heavier' but I think for me the positions I was using for breastfeeding made the reflux worse. I hope your baby's reflux improves asap and sympathise with you. Remember, every baby is different and good luck!
     
  8. I agree with this [​IMG] The benefits of breastfeeding (in the short and long term) will most likely outweigh the relatiely short term 'gain' from formula feeding with regard to the reflux, if you see what I mean! Particularly if your LO is still gaining weight and seems generally alert and happy.
     
  9. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    This really is your choice. There's benefit to both, but lcearly in this case you do want to. Why don't you go back to the doc, or ideally see if you could see a specialist in reflux (could a midwife arrange a telephone appointment with one?) so you can talk over whether bottle really would be best. Everyone may have opinions, but get an expert's advice, if s/he says your baby will be better off with bottle, you have your answer, but if there's pros and cons of both with a baby with reflux, then it's back to your choice. After a certain time period, most experts say it doesn't really matter, there are bright and healthy babies on both types of feed, it's what suits indviduals more, but maybve it's best for you to talk to an expert about YOU and YOUR baby. Good luck. I know reflux is very distressing
     
  10. I'm hoping Undiwear pops up here as she knows a lot about this sort of stuff.

    I'm not sure you were given great advice- many doctors don't know much about breastfeeding so I would be a little sceptical. It doesn't sound quite right to me.

    If you want to carry on It might be worth giving a breastfeeding counsellor a call. There are several helplines you can call to discuss, (La leche league, association of breastfeeding mothers, NCT or breastfeeding network) you may have a local breastfeeding councellor who can pop out and have a chat. They will have far more information about breastfeeding than many doctors.
     
  11. Just to say that I think GPs partly recommend going on to formula with a reflux baby because they can then be fed more upright (thereby letting gravity help keep things down so to speak).
    However, my baby that had reflux absolutely point blank hated being fed upright and was far more content eating lying down! So, you can never tell.
    Ultimately, I hope you find a solution soon.
     
  12. Hi,

    Thank you very much for all your responses.

    I think I will discuss it with the doctor at the next appointment as I really am adamant that I want to carry on breastfeeding. I just wonder if I'm putting my wants before the baby's needs. I think if someone said 'Give him formula and it will disappear', I'd be much more inclined to give it to him, but obviously that isn't the case so as long as he is thriving and putting on weight, I'll carry on.

    Just for those who said I should speak to midwife etc, I live abroad and there's no such thing here which makes it all the more harder to make a decision like this. I will try and get some more advice from others though just to make sure I've got all the facts. I think I have just come to terms with the constant spit-up and he doesn't seem to be in as much discomfort.

    Just a quick question for those mums who have had to deal with reflux- did teething have any effect on it? I'm wondering if all the extra saliva helps with neutralising the acid?

    Thanks again to all of you for taking the time to reply. :eek:)
     
  13. I can only speak from a personal experience and that is no, it didn't have any effect. If anything, it meant we had an additional problem to add to the feeding mix. So rather than think, 'oh, it's reflux' it became 'it could be reflux, or teeth'. It does however, mean we can 'try' more things to help her calm down though.
    TBH, I just cannot wait until we don't have to bother with milk at all. It's an absolute godsend that LO has dropped mid-morning and mid-afternoon feeds as the pressure is far less - but here's to having no more milk at all! (sadly it'll be a while I expect).
     

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