As a mother, when I exclusively breastfed my child, I often noticed regurgitation or my daughter throwing up milk almost immediately after the feed, and the consistency of the milk ranged from partially digested to curdled milk. Hence, I can completely understand the apprehensions of young, new mothers when they worry about the health of their newborn baby who regurgitate milk. Frequent questions that pop up frequently in a new mother’s mind are, ” Are my baby’s organs functioning normally?” “Is my newborn getting enough nutrition for sound growth and development?”
Regurgitation can be defined as acid reflux which pushes the food or milk content reverse into the pharynx, unlike vomiting, which includes exclusion of contents from the oral cavity. Both the terms, hence, cannot be exchanged or interchanged.
Why is regurgitation of milk in infants such a big deal’?
Regurgitation of milk in infants usually is non-pathogenic and harmless. However it is important to differentiate between the causes of regurgitation. It can occur due to factors like overfeeding, swallowing too much air during feeding or simply due to incorrect feeding posture.
It can be concerning if the newborn isn’t gaining adequate weight soon after birth. Newborn babies who regurgitate often can be ‘happy and peaceful’ in spite of throwing up recurrently. It becomes very important to maintain a hierarchy of steps to be followed while feeding the child.
Regurgitation of milk in infants is quite common, and usually, the newborn outgrows it by the age of 6 months. A diagnostic approach might not be needed for the infants, who are exclusively breastfed and if the weight gain is accomplished at a normal pace.
Let’s focus on the watch-outs which can prevent frequent episodes of regurgitation:-
- Mother and her newborn baby to maintain good posture for feeding: – This point seems insignificant, but its impact is of maximum magnitude. If the posture of the mother and her newborn is incorrect it can lead to frequent regurgitation. One needs to consult a lactation specialist for the right education.
- Avoid Overfeeding: – Regurgitation does occur when an infant is overfed. It is important to understand the tiny life too has tiny organs which are still developing. So, watch out for signs of fullness that your baby will give you such as turning his head away, lack of interest in feeding, and fussiness. Exclusive breastfeeding should not be mistaken for overfeeding.
- Burp the child often: – It is a non-negotiable part of feeding. In fact, the feeding process is left incomplete without burping the newborn. It is an important practice which should be religiously followed after every successful feed. Holding the newborn baby upright for a few minutes post feed, helps to eliminate the extra air and gases through burping.
- Mothers should refrain from eating gas-producing foods: – The food the mother eats can have an impact on her breastmilk. Old wisdom believes that gassy foods such as beans, cauliflower, white channa, rajma etc. can lead to gas formation in the baby via mother’s milk. Therefore, a mother should make conscious efforts to eliminate all potential food irritants from the diet, while exclusively breastfeeding her baby.
a few simple precautions can control the frequency of regurgitation of milk. In some cases however, children can have issues such as weak digestion or other medical complications . In such cases, it should also be treated clinically, if asked so by a paediatrician. Enjoy feeding, enjoy parenting.