In this week’s blog we will explore a common, but sometimes distressing ailment many parents experience with their babies; reflux.
Reflux is the process of the contents of the stomach flowing back up the oesophagus. Whilst all babies will bring up milk during their early weeks/months, reflux is diagnosed when the quantity of this positing is significantly increased.
Reflux can cause a lot of distress for both parents and baby and reflux is another ailment that baby massage can help to alleviate.
You can expect a baby’s reflux issue to resolve naturally as they begin to spend more time upright and after the introduction of solid foods.
However, baby massage can reduce the effects of reflux significantly, during the course we will focus on all areas of the body. You may be surprised to learn that it is not just the stomach area that we focus on to alleviate reflux in our babies; all other areas are beneficial massage areas for the baby, as well as enabling both parents and baby to relax during the whole massage process.
The position when you are massaging a baby with reflux is incredibly important; placing baby in an elevated position on a firm surface is best.
Any tension a baby experiences is reflected in the feet and so massaging these areas can help relax the whole body which is so beneficial for your baby.
As with any area of massage, time should be taken on each area before moving on in order for baby to benefit the most.
Naturally, for babies with reflux, the tummy is a key area to massage in order to provide some relief from the symptoms of reflux. Massaging the baby’s tummy before a feed can facilitate the movement of the contents of the gut, so it is a good idea to factor in tummy massage before feeds on a daily basis in order to support the stomach in releasing it’s contents faster.
The timing of tummy massage on a refluxy baby is difficult as babies are so individual and reflux can affect them in different ways, and so trial and error may be the only way to work out what works best for your baby, but generally you should wait at least 45 minutes after a feed to massage your baby – although some babies will need significantly longer.
As well as the obvious physical side effects, reflux can trigger emotional trauma through the pain it creates; massaging the chest can relieve this emotional trauma.
Reflux can also cause tension throughout the whole body and so focusing on the legs and feet, as well as the arms and hands may also be beneficial in reducing the overall tension that reflux can create throughout the body.
Babies who suffer with reflux may also find tummy time particularly difficult so incorporating a back massage into your baby’s routine to allow them the time on their tummies to strengthen the abdominal muscles and introduce short bursts of tummy time – where baby will allow of course!
For babies with reflux, some of the traditional strokes you may learn within a baby massage class may need to be adapted to suit the individual baby’s needs and to ensure that you aren’t aggravating the reflux and causing your baby more discomfort.
In summary, whist suffering with reflux in the first months of life is a testing time for both parents and baby, there are natural, easy ways to relieve some of the symptoms and discomfort, most of which can be learned at a baby massage course and then adapted and transferred to your daily routine at home.