Arching back/screaming while feeding but happy to lie flat?

Hello Ladies

I'm really hoping someone can help us!

Our little boy is 3 weeks old today and for the last week or so he has been getting more and more fractious, particularly during feeds (he is FF). He will gulp at his bottle but then start coughing/arching back and when the bottle is removed, screams blue murder. He is impossible to wind when he is straining like this but will usually take the bottle again when reintroduced. He will calm down eventually at some point during/after feed but often needs rocked or soothed in some way or placed over shoulder. He has vomited up more than a posset ocassionally, but not regularly. He also feeds far better at night - most of the trouble starts in the morning and last through the day to the early evening, when his last feeds are calmer.

He will often start crying upon waking after a nap which we have I think been misinterpreting as hunger (even though it was only a short time after a full feed) - at these times he would not really take much milk at all and it seemed to make him even more distressed. Again, he will calm down without a feed if we rock/soothe/cuddle him (this makes me pretty sure he wasn't really hungry in the first place). I am now not offering him a bottle if it's less than 3 hours after a full feed, to try and give his tummy a rest. No such rest for our ears, sadly.

Obviously, having googled extensively and talked to various friends - I am wondering if he has a measure of silent reflux. *However* - from looking at the symptoms, he has them all, except the bit about not being able to lie flat. He will very happily sleep on his back and shows no real discomfort during changes (well, except not liking his botty exposed!) The other possible diagnosis is colic/wind - but he never pulls his legs up to his chest, he's better in the evenings, not worse, and is very productive with his wind!

So, as you can imagine, we're completely stumped and hate seeing our wee man in obvious pain and distress. Has anybody else had a LO with these conflicting symptoms? If yes, did you find out what was causing it and/or did you find any way to help them?

Many many thanks in advance

MrsB x


  • Hi Mrs B

    We had a similar thing with our son, he is now 5 months old.

    What bottles are you using??

    We found with our son that we were mistaking hunger for tiredness on occassion and then other times he would initially gulp hard on the bottle then get distresed so we'd take the bottle away then he'd scream even more, Even our health visitor was stumped.

    Does he finish every feed?? Charlie was taking his feeds in dribs and drabs, it was exhausting.
    Not sure if this sounds similar to yur litle boy? With us we felt at such a loss we just took each feed as it came & did our best to soothe him, then after one particular day of non stop crying i decided to give hungry baby formula a go & it worked straight away!!! It finally seems to us that he was so hungry that he would gulp so hard obviously then taking in more air so in turn got a sore tummy but still not satisfied. He just became a little calmer on the milk.

    Im not suggesting that you rush out & buy the hungry baby milk im just saying how it worked for us.

    I've prob not helped at all x
  • My son started with the same signs at 3 weeks. Lots of arching a few minutes into a feed - every feed - however the night times were easier, particularly when we introduced the dream feed at about 1 month. He too could lie on his back but soon decided that sleeping on his side was preferable. He started out with silent reflux which later became not so silent! He also had terrible trapped wind problems though and these lasted til he was 16 weeks. His reflux is has only just passed and he is now 8 months. Ive managed his reflux with renitadine which is was put on at 4 weeks. I had to really fight for it as many docs will just tell you to go away and come back after they reach 12 weeks (to rule out colic) - even the private paed we went to. Sadly the docs say that reflux is diagnosed in a "process of elimination" of every other possible problem first. But when he finally had the renitadine, within 24 hrs he was a different baby and that was when I saw him first smile (not a wind smile either).

    Silent reflux is more difficult to diagnose than the non-silent type. You could experiment by trying a different bottle, or like livronandcj suggested, try a different formula- many come in the carton size so you could try those before buying a big tub.

    I hope you can get to the bottom of the problem as I know how hard it can be as a mum with a bub like this. Big hugs to you. Be strong and trust your instincts, you know your baby better than anyone else and dont let yourself be fobbed off by the docs. i hope you can get some help.
  • Echo what Sim said, ranitidine worked wonders for my lo. She had most of symptoms but some she didn't have which made me question myself as to whether she did have it. I think she would lie down but definitely preferred to lie on her side. She was diagnosed at 12 weeks after a few weeks on infant gaviscon. As Sim said you often have to push for a referral to paediatrician. For us it was the best thing seeing them because he prescribed the ranitidine and this made things so much easier at feed times. Really was quite a dramatic difference and made me wish we hadn't struggled on for so long. If your concerned see your GP and if they suspect reflux I would try and push for a referral straight away. If they prescribe gaviscon and things improve, great, you can cancel the appointment, if not you have that options still. Also if GP/HV prescirbe gaviscon it can make lo's poo quite hard, just to warn you. We gave cooled boiled water and this seemed to help.

    [Modified by: beemonkey on July 24, 2010 09:03 PM]

  • Many thanks for the kind and full replies. Seems like I do need to get him seen by the doc and get some help for him.
    My friend who had a LO with extreme reflux lent me a book yesterday called "Colic Solved" (a book she claims saved her life!) and it lists some little known reflux symptoms - nearly all of which our boy has. It also mentions 'gray-zone' reflux babies -ones who can sleep, including on their back and aren't always sick. The list of other symptoms are:
    - arches and pulls of nipple/bottle
    - feeds voraciously
    - seems hungry but requires more than 20 minutes to complete a 3-4 ounce bottle
    - feeds better when half asleep
    - more frequently irritable after feeds than at any other time
    - screams when put down for nappy changes
    - awakens from sound sleep with bloodcurdling screams
    - you "hear" stomach contents being burped up from the stomach into the throat
    - frequently has coarse, noisy breathing that's worse after sleeping
    - constantly hiccups

    It's like reading a description of our boy! Hope this list might help others experiencing similar thing. The book I have to say is very interesting - it basically asserts that colic is a description, not a disease - and will have another cause. Colic being a five letter word that means your doctor/HV has no idea what's wrong with your baby!

    MrsB x
  • Hello the symptoms you describe sound identical to how my daughter was at 3 weeks I took her to the dr and he said she had a reflux he prescribed Infacol- he said at the time he didn't like giving Infant gaviscon to babies so young as it can sometimes do more damage phew! So we tried the infacol and over night she completely changed she was much calmer with her feeds and it was also around this time we worked out she was much happier sleeping on her tummy controversial yes but boy did it work for us HV said it may help her reflux sleeping like this and we always very careful. She is now 12 weeks old and sleeps soundly through the night 8pm-7am (from 3.5 weeks!) you can still "hear" milk go in her tummy and back up the other way, she is a very noisy breather and has hiccups at least 3 out of 6 feeds a day BUT she is still very happy! She hates being on her back for sleep and much prefers tummy time for play time already showing signs of being an earlier crawler too as she spends sooo much time on her tum she has amazing head control and shuffles along the floor/cot!

  • ILOVEMYGEEK - have you found that infacol helped your little one? I have read that it can often exacerbate reflux because its aim is to relax the sphincter muscles to allow wind to pass more easily (hence why it's used for trapped wind or colicky symptoms) but this means that milk can come back up more easily and exacerbating reflux problems.

    I was also worried about giving lo too many meds but after the paediatician explained to us how reflux was affecting her (basically making her oesophagus red raw hence why feeding is so painful and upsetting for them) I really couldn't argue. As I said in my earlier post the change in her was dramatic, but my lo was 12 weeks by this point, so I can understand at 3 weeks them being a bit more hesitant.

    Hopefully your GP will be supportive whether or not its reflux and help you get to the bottom of it. Best of luck getting it sorted.

  • Colic being a five letter word that means your doctor/HV has no idea what's wrong with your baby!

    This is exactly my view and why I never used that term to describe my son's terrible wind issues!!! It's also an excuse to turn you away until they are 12wks old!! :x
    I did try the Infacol with my son for his wind but it made little difference for him. He still screamed and screamed during and after feeds. For a very long time. It still haunts me. We also tried the baby gaviscon but it didnt work either and there was the problem with constipation so he didnt have much of it. The renitadine gets to the root of the problem if it is reflux that is causing the pain - it is an antacid. Many docs arent comfortable prescribing it cos they dont know enough about it since it is not yet (or wasnt in December 09) a licenced drug (but it is still very widely used). Im in oz now and it's Zantac, which is licenced I believe and is the same thing.

    I would suggest taking the book with you to the doc and highlighting all of the symptoms that your son has out of this list. Reading through your list, my son had every one of those symptoms! I wish Id had the list with me when I started the process with all the docs.

    I also just want to say to try and take it easy yourself, and make sure you have lots of support around you. It really does take its toll on you as his mum to know only see/have him in so much pain, but the constant screaming can really get you down and you need to have a break too. While nothing prepared me for being a new mum to a baby Id so longed for, NOTHING prepared me for being a new mum of a baby with reflux. I didnt have much support around me and it would have made such a difference to how I was able to cope with it. Big hugs to you hon and we are all here when you need to offload or have any questions.
  • beemonkey- yes its definitely helped! She does have to be winded immediately after her feed otherwise the whole lot comes straight back up- as I was reminded this morning when she drained a whole bottle the promptly spurted it all back out again because I waited to long to wind her!oops
  • Just reading the last response about winding made me remember something important that I was told too late. For a reflux baby, patting their back to wind them can cause them extreme pain. It may seem catch-22 if you have a baby with both bad wind and reflux problems!! But the approach to winding should be rubbing their back upwards in a circular motion instead of the patting which can actually cause them to throw up.

    Hope youre doing ok *mrsberry* and your ds isnt suffering too badly.
Sign In or Register to comment.

Featured Discussions

Promoted Content