The Best Breastfeeding Positions For Reflux You Need To Know About Today
Finding the perfect breastfeeding position for your baby is as it is a herculean task. In addition to that, comprehending what makes your cute, little, mute humans uneasy is an added task; that’s not at all simple.
Sometimes, certain conditions might require you to adjust the breastfeeding position to help your baby deal better with it. One of the most common situations that demand better positioning is reflux. Without beating around the bush anymore, let’s get straight to understanding what reflux is and what are the best breastfeeding positions for reflux.
What Is Reflux In Babies?
Reflux in babies is a very common phenomenon. As a breastfeeding mommy you must be familiar with your little one spitting out milk after a feed, sometimes multiple times a day.
That is exactly what reflux is. It is also referred to as spitting up or posseting. Very often babies with reflux do not show other signs of discomfort or physical pain. That is known as simple reflux.
Before hopping on to the other types of reflux in babies, let us find out the cause behind this phenomenon.
Babies have shorter esophagi than children or adults. The esophagus is the tube that carries food to the stomach. Therefore, the distance it takes for food in the stomach to travel backward is small, enhancing the chances of such occurring.
Besides, at the entry site to the stomach, there is a muscular door known as the lower esophageal sphincter. It opens to release food into the stomach and closes soon after that.
However, in babies, the sphincter is in a developing state. Therefore, sometimes, it opens when it shouldn’t. Most of the time, the untimely opening of the muscular door occurs when their little tummies are full. This causes the milk along with the stomach acids to come back up and out of the mouth.
However, the strength and amount of acid in a baby’s stomach are usually too low to cause any harm to the esophagus during reflux. But in some cases, the strength of the acid in a baby’s stomach is higher than usual.
That damages the esophagus during reflux, resulting in soreness and inflammation. In such cases, reflux becomes painful for your baby. To alleviate the condition, medical diagnosis and treatment are required. This type of reflux is termed gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Some of the most common signs that indicate gastroesophageal reflux disease in babies are:-
Difficulty gaining weight due to vomiting large amounts of milk
Fussiness and crying due to abdominal pain
Rejecting breast during feeding
Unhappiness between and after feeds
Bile and blood in the vomit( in severe cases)
Can Proper Positioning Help Babies With Reflux?
One of the best ways to help your baby cope with reflux is to find out a suitable breastfeeding position. Horizontal positioning makes it easier for the contents in the stomach to flow back to the mouth.
Therefore, the aim is to hold your baby in such a way that their head is held higher than their tummy. This holds down the milk in their bodies. Here are some of the best breastfeeding positions for reflux.
1. Upright Hold
The upright hold, as the name implies, requires you to hold your baby straight. Make your baby straddle your thighs with their mouth close to your nipples. Support their head with one hand and use the other hand to stroke and comfort them as they feed. In upright or koala hold, gravity acts with sufficient strength and holds the milk down in the stomach.
2. Football Hold
The football hold is considered one of the most effective breastfeeding positions for reflux. It must not be difficult for you to visualize the positioning since the name makes it super clear. Yes, you have to hold your baby just like you would hold a football, under your arm.
In this position, you have to tuck your baby’s body and legs under your arm. Support them with pillows or towels stacked up under them. The head should remain close to your breast, supported by your hand, and in a place where you can get a clear view of your face.
3. Laid-back Breastfeeding
Yet another comfortable breastfeeding position, the laid-back or reclined posture is also known as biological nurturing. To get into this hold, all you have to do is lie down in a semi-reclined position on a recliner, sofa, or bed with the help of pillows.
The next step is to place your baby vertically on you. This stimulates your baby’s natural feeding instincts, making them crawl to your breasts and latch when they are hungry. The influence of gravity is strong, so milk stays held down in the body for a long.
This is a classic breastfeeding position, probably the most common one. In this cuddly hold, you need to place your baby in the crook of your arm on the side from which they are nursing. For example, if your baby is nursing from your right breast, your right hand should cradle the baby.
The other hand remains free to either provide additional support to your baby or hold your breast to ease latching. Make sure that their head remains higher than their tummy. If you lift their body and legs to a level that they align with their head, it can worsen the reflux.
Additional Tips To Help Reflux
1. Make sure that the breastfeeding position you choose doesn’t put pressure on your baby’s tummy.
2. After every nursing session, hold them upright for some time, preferably 15-20 minutes. This will allow enough time for digestion to start and lessen the chances of reflux.
3. In between feeds and after, burp gently
4. Make sure that your baby is not overfeeding or swallowing excess air. Offer one breast at a time and go for shorter and more frequent feedings rather than less frequent long feedings.
Reflux in babies usually goes away after a year as their esophagus grows and their sphincter muscles are fully developed. As we saw, most of the time, reflux isn’t even problematic.
But if it becomes painful due to acid reflux, do not delay consulting your pediatrician. Follow their guidelines closely and reap the benefits of the breastfeeding positions for reflux that we discussed above to get the best results.