“Should I worry about how much my baby is spitting up?”
Spitting up (usually just a mouth-full) is common and is on the normal spectrum for (most) babies. Statistically about 40% of babies spit up 2 – 3 times per day. When it’s your baby though, no doubt you are concerned.
Breastmilk is quickly absorbed. You can be confident that what gets spit up is minimal and that for a healthy baby, it isn’t making a lick of difference to their overall health and well-being. Spitting up is not an illness or stomach bug. They are not “vomiting” – they are just returning back to you that last gulp of milk.
What causes spitting up? There are a myriad of reasons, causes and cure suggestions. The usual suspects may include the maturity of the gut & digestive system, milk flow rate & milk ejection reflex (too much milk too fast), food sensitivities, bottle feeding, poor latch, air swallowed, distraction at the breast (on again, off again), a difficult birth where sensitivity or over-stimulation is heightened (get thee to a cranial sacral massage therapist!) …. all plus more may contribute to your baby’s frequency of spitting up.
Addressing each one of these as a potential cause may help. Look at positioning while you feed, what are your mechanics, how is the latch? Are you bringing baby upright for several minutes after a feed? Are you moving baby around swiftly after a feed? Infant or cranial sacral massage is a lovely modality to help with the flow of “gut” energy and to stimulate active digestion that may be a little premature in an infant. If you offer both breasts per feeding – be sure to bring baby up in-between feeds to let gravity work. Burping doesn’t have to be aggressive, smooth circular (in the direction of the large intestine) gentle strokes on the back can do the trick. Try “biological nurturing” and actually feed baby in a vertical position (http://www.biologicalnurturing.com/).
You could try all this and nothing may change. For some babies, it’s just “one of those things my baby does”.
I tell moms to look at their whole baby in relation to the spitting up. Is baby happy? Gaining weight? Meeting its marks for development? Are you getting the normal number of diapers? Is baby showing signs of arching, pain & discomfort at all? Is baby pretty much a well adjusted, happy thriving little person?
To which the answer usually is, baby seems fine, but it’s just “sooo much milk”.
Or is it? How much milk are we talking about here?
Try this – take a teaspoon, a tablespoon and an ounce shot glass. Fill them all with milk. Toss them on the floor and see how big a splat it makes. Go ahead … have fun. You’ll be surprised by what the splat volume looks like.
Here are the three measurements side by side (with some bananas) for comparison.
Chances are your baby is spitting up only in the teaspoon, maybe the tablespoon, range each time. This can be a fun exercise to bring you peace of mind. And if you have older children around, have them help – they’ll get all sorts of giggles out of it.
Rest assured that spitting up is more of a laundry and clean bib nuisance for you, and less of a painful problem for baby!
Breastfeeding Blessings ~