Becoming a new mum is an incredibly difficult thing. From being utterly clueless about how to handle the stress, excitement, rules and more of a newborn baby, determining what is 'normal' and what is 'abnormal' is just one of the many tasks parents face.
Nadia Bartel, the wife of AFL player Jimmy Bartel, has penned an open letter on Kidspot about her son's silent struggle, and how her naivety left her and her newborn son Aston struggling to cope.
Bartel starts her letter by stating that Aston was a fussy baby from 'day dot'.
'It started from that second night in the hospital, screaming all night long and this continued for months and months,' she wrote.
'Our baby was the one you could hear in hospital screaming on the top of his lungs during the night while Jim and I walked his bassinet around the hospital corridors trying to get him to sleep.'
Nadia goes on the explain that she knew her son's cries were more than the 'normal baby fussy' cries, but as a first-time mum admitted she had no idea what was 'normal'.
'I had nothing to compare it to and I felt like if I told people he cried a lot and wouldn’t sleep at all then it was a sign of weakness on my behalf,' she writes.
'He would scream for hours with a bright red face, clenched tight fists and nothing would settle him. Even when he slept he had a painful looking screwed up face. If he wasn’t sleeping, he was screaming.
'I got the response with a little laugh that motherhood is never easy and babies do cry a lot.'
It wasn't until Nadia admitted that she needed help that Aston's problem was finally uncovered!
Nadia hired a midwife, Daani, who 'changer her life.'
Daani stays up with babies all night and monitors their sleep problems. As soon as Daani spent the night, she was certain Aston had 'severe silent reflux.'
Silent reflux is a common, yet confusing, condition that some children face.
Silent reflux refers to refluxed material that flows back into the oesophagus, but isn’t forced out of the mouth. A child may swallow it back down or the stomach contents/stomach acids may not come up the oesophagus far enough to be swallowed.
Nadia describes, 'Think of the worst possible heartburn you have ever experienced, but then put it in a newborn babies body #ouch.'
Nadia has provided a thorough list of Aston's symptoms that align with his reflux. It's incredibly helpful for new mums!
Symptoms of reflux:
- Really frantic to nurse at night, but then would pull off and on, in pain and scream, then be frantic to nurse again and this would repeat. Feeding was really hard
- Hiccups, that would last for long periods and seemed aggressive and continuous.
- Full on crying and screams. It was always worst from 5pm onwards and continued all night long
- Clenched fists and stiff body and red screwed up face
- Only slept for really short 40-minute bursts on and off
- Nappies were always a weird consistency and really green
- Bad smelling breath
- He would feed frantically fast, and would continually drink bottle after bottle or stay on my boob all the time
- Lots of coughing that was really harsh
- Trouble breathing if laid flat
Nadia also shared her tips to reducing silent reflux:
- Gaviscon and Mylanta
- Goats milk, as it is far more gentle on the stomach
- Aptamil Allerpro gold +
- Prop the cot up. Nadia says, 'We used three thick books, so it was on a slight angle, which helped to keep that acid down.'
Aston is now sixteen months old and thriving!
Nadia finishes her open letter by asserting, 'Remember, never feel apprehensive to consult your doctor, because no one knows your baby better than you do.'
This article originally appeared on New Idea.