This is common in babies, due to an immature or weak muscle between the baby’s stomach and oesophagus. This allows the milk to escape from the stomach and flow back up, sometimes bringing stomach acids with it. There are several forms of reflux, ranging from mild (often called ‘posseting’) to severe (often called gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, or GORD).
When burping, hold your baby gently – don’t pat vigorously or bounce them up and down.
Reflux (gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, or GORD)
This more severe form of reflux can be similar to adult heartburn — discomfort or a burning sensation due to stomach acids leaking back into the baby’s sensitive oesophagus, along with the milk, causing inflammation. The condition can be difficult to diagnose, especially in cases where the milk does not come out of the baby’s mouth (as it does in posseting). Sometimes milk or stomach acid is only regurgitated as far as the oesophagus or throat (called ‘silent reflux’). This still causes the baby discomfort and there is usually disruption to feeding and possibly sleeping patterns. Babies may cry during or shortly after a feed, pull off the breast, arch their back, become rigid, writhe, kick or throw out their arms. They are not happy babies.
Managing posseting and mild reflux
Posseting causes no pain or discomfort, and is no cause for concern if your baby is happy, feeds well and gains weight.
When to seek help
For more information you can visit websites such as the Reflux Infants Support Association (RISA), formerly the Vomiting Infants Support Association (VISA): www.reflux.org.au
Chapter 2 Watch Me Grow