Twins with reflux diagnosis

My twin girls were born prematurely at 32 weeks and came home after 5 weeks in the NICU.  We were very quickly overwhelmed by the amount of crying and screaming but after much internet research put it down to colic.  Since we were first time parents and clueless we also thought that this was probably just what having twins was like.  At around 10 weeks the projectile vomiting started, after almost every feed.  We did not know what had hit us (quite literally!).  I rapidly made my way to the pediatrician who diagnosed severe reflux and prescribed Zantac.  Over many weeks we learnt how to deal with the reality of what reflux meant and how to deal with it.  It was not easy but we managed!

Twins with reflux?  How to recognise the signs?

Twins are much more prone to reflux then singleton babies because they tend to be born early.  This means their digestive system is often still underdeveloped.  Premature twins (prematurity being twins born before 35 weeks) have a much higher risk of reflux.  Not all forms of reflux result in vomiting or spitting.  Some babies just experience ‘silent reflux’ but are still in pain.  The signs to look out for are:

  • Heavy discomfort during and after feeding (relentless crying, screaming, restless)
  • Back arching or contorting of the body
  • Heavy spitting and/or vomiting
  • Refusing to eat, not gaining weight
crying baby reflux
What works when your twins have reflux?

If you are experiencing any of the above signs with your twins, make sure they get checked by a paediatrician.  The biggest help for the pain reflux causes is medication (you may need to try out a few before finding one that works).  Other than medication I have found the following things helpful:

  • A little gripe water before and after feeding
  • Breastmilk is apparently better digested than formula so stick with that if you are able
  • Sleeping upright (or definitely not flat)
  • Small feeds, lots of burping during and after feed
  • I found that the vibration of the Fisher price bouncer helped them with the digestion (better than burping even)

To get your twins to sleep upright you can buy a baby wedge for the cotbed such as the The Wedgehog.  These do work to some extent, however our twins kept sliding down to the bottom of the cotbed so you need a way to harness them so that they don’t slide.   A good product that seems to now exist is a wedge with a 3 point harness.  Whilst I have not tried it out as it was not available, it has very good reviews.  You can buy the Clevamama ClevaWedge with 3 Point Harness here.

A reflux baby will often wake up at night from because the lying position is the worst for reflux.  The acidity of the reflux will hurt your babies’ oesophagus and throat and that’s very uncomfortable.  Consequently, don’t expect your reflux baby or babies to sleep through the night without waking up and avoid large feeds before sleeping.  A reflux baby will just have to continue with smaller feeds for longer.

The essential thing to remember in those situations is that reflux, even if physically challenging for the parents, is not all that dangerous unless it causes serious complications.  It is also something that they will outgrow usually by the time they are 1, usually earlier.  And if you really are struggling, make sure you get some help!

reflux baby wedge
Twins with reflux – what is reflux?

More details on reflux can be found in this NCT article on reflux