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Protect Your Baby From Acid Refluxfrom: Maxx Family Life
Acid reflux, also called gastroesophageal reflux, is often a regular problem in infants. Babies who expereince acid reflux suffer from a range of conditions, from mild to severe, and recurrent spitting up, abdominal pain and night waking.
It helps to understand the physiological or the mechanical aspect of the condition. The body has a band of muscle in a circular structure called the lower esophageal sphincter. This muscle detaches the esophagus from the stomach. When food arrives in the stomach, it closes to prevent stomach acids and content from backing up into the esophagus or regurgitating. However, with some babies, the lower esophageal sphincter has grown immature and so the partially digested food and digestive acids are allowed to be refluxed. This causes irritation in the esophagus lining, resulting in inflammation usually called heartburn.
Acid reflux in babies often begins to develop when they're 2 - 4 weeks old. At this point, the family doctor might prescribe medicines that help to minimize the production of digestive acids. Within 6 - 9 months, acid reflux starts to naturally disappear. During this period, babies often spend a large part of their time in an upright position. Thus the law of gravity naturally occurs to the food taken in -- that is, the food stays down more naturally and reduces possible regurgitation.
Here's some helpful pointers on ways to feed and position a baby to reduce the risk of acid reflux:
Prepare smaller feedings. It makes sense to feed your baby more than usual but less than the he/she may be accustomed to. If a smaller volume of milk arrives in the stomach, digestion will take place quicker and there'll be less contents for regurgitation.
Keep the baby in an upright position after feeding. Gravity in this case wll help keep the digestive content down. You can position your baby seated in your lap while his/her head rests on your chest. For best results, maintain this position for at least half an hour after feeding.
Breastfeeding does help. Breast milk has many advantages over other commercial formula, especially for babies with acid reflux. Breast milk can be digested faster, which of course lessens spitting up, and it has special enzymes that assists with digestion. Also, breast milk doesn't trigger allergies in babies compared to other milks available. For those formula-feeding, however, it's a good idea to use milk with a hypoallergenic formula as advised by a doctor. In addition to having higher tolerance with sensitive intestines, hypoallergenic milk is digested faster by the stomach and thus it minimizes refluxes.
Place your baby in a comfortable position when asleep. When a baby lies flat when sleeping, gravity can't help to keep the food down. As a result, a baby with acid reflux often has to endure a sore night of constantly waking up. If a baby can sleep soundly, there's no reason to his/her habit. But some babies become restless, which can be noted by abdominal pain, acid breath and wet burps. In this case, it's best to elevate the baby's crib to about 30 degrees which should be sufficient to reduce the regurgitation. You may also try to train him to sleep on his left side. It is in this position where the inlet of the stomach is higher than the exit. This will also help to keep the food down.
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