I hear and read so many stories of when mum’s stop breastfeeding because of their baby’s reflux, and then they spend weeks and months still trying to resolve their baby’s pain and discomfort.
If you are breastfeeding your baby and they have reflux symptoms and are unsettled and discontented, it may be that there is something in your breastmilk that they cannot digest properly causing some problems. There are rare conditions when baby might not be medically able to have breastmilk. Read more about them here. In general, I believe that breastmilk is the best option for a reflux baby.
Why breastmilk is still best for reflux baby
If baby is breastfed and is showing signs of reflux, very unsettled and discontented, breastmilk is the best source of nutrition, and is the easiest to influence, because you can influence its content.
There are other reasons why breastmilk helps. Firstly, it has a natural analgesic in it, so it is a painkiller for baby; secondly, the act of suckling and feeding stimulates peristalsis and makes everything move the correct downward direction, and thirdly, milk will wash back down any acid that is annoying baby. For these reasons alone, you may observe that your unsettled baby wants boob “all the time”, and indeed, a breastfed baby may “over-feed” themselves purely for comfort reasons.
If your breastmilk has food molecules in it that your baby cannot digest properly, you can change these with relative ease. Formula milk is formula milk and you cannot change what is in it. There are few formulas (if any) that are fully digestible by infants and so many parents trying various types of milk with worsening symptoms. In 5% of reflux babies, the reflux only started after mums stopped breastfeeding.