It might seem harsh, but it is true.
I've been told countless stories of mums with post natal depression (PND) who's baby has reflux. Here are a few story excerpts that have been shared with me:
"Even though I’m a midwife I was unprepared for the impact of colic and sleep problems. There seems to be a lot of sympathy out there but not a lot of practical help"
"There’s such a big push on post natal depression and yet reflux, silent reflux and CMPA symptoms can leave a parent distraught and it’s being ignored, parents are palmed off with ‘cheaper’ solutions that will never work."
"Disregarding the damage to the patents after being made to feel neurotic and like we just aren’t coping when really our babies are ill."
"Depression can be due to a baby constantly crying. They try to medicate the mum rather than exploring the possibility of silent reflux or CMPA. Not one professional offered this advice.... If I was not as stronger character I would have been brushed off and given something for my depression rather than examining the baby"
"I feel that the health professionals wouldn’t listen to my concerns..."
"Having a newborn baby was an awful experience, I cried and hated every day and just survived it. I love my daughter beyond words but I never got the special bonding moments people talk about when holding, feeding or seeing their babies for the first time. She screamed all night from the first night she was born and within days I was an emotional mess, exhausted zombie who just tried to survive. I'd see mothers with babies asleep in their prams at restaurants or shops or cafes and would feel overwhelmingly angry as [Baby] never went in her pram or the car seat or her bed or anywhere not in my arms without screaming until she was taken out of the situaiton. It was torture for her and I."
Now if those stories don't start to break your heart, nothing will.
In March 2018, a study from New South Wales, Australia stated
"having a maternal admission with a mental health disorder increases the risk of a diagnosis in the infant by more than four times is a significant finding that has not previously been identified. Maternal anxiety appears to be the most influential factor." [Read the Full Paper here]
When I read this I immediately thought that this was completely backwards. That surely the reason that mums had PND was because their baby had reflux.
I understand and agree that there is a definite link between a mothers mental health and her baby. The bond is so close and so deep, it is sort of telepathic. So yes, the emotional state of a mother can influence the feelings of a baby. However, I do not believe that this is "the most influential factor" in a baby having reflux.
What came first is almost certainly the reflux. Because reflux is a causative factor in PND. 100%. I know that I would not have had PND if my baby didn't have silent reflux. I know that.
How do I know that?
Well because Sunflower never slept more than 8 hours in any 24 (I tracked everything so this is a fact) for the first six months or so.
And sleep deprivation is a form of torture. Fact. Sleep deprivation alone can cause depression. Put serious and ongoing sleep deprivation into the mix with post natal hormonal imbalances and the biggest life change ever, and its a recipe for depression.
So reflux can cause depression.
How do our doctors cause post natal depression?
Because they completely ignore us. Mums. We are totally and wholly ignored by our doctors, our health visitors and our midwives when we ask for their help and advice about our baby.
Every parent of a baby who has had reflux or colic will know that the cry of these children is not a typical baby cry. It cuts right through to your heart. It is a cry of pain. It is a cry of anguish. It is a cry for help.
As a new mum, we know that our sole purpose in life in the first few months of this journey, is to protect and provide for our baby. So we know when something is wrong.
We know that we don't know everything, so we seek professional advice. And when the answers that come from that source are nothing more than
"all babies cry"
"crying is normal"
"your baby will grow out of it, it's colic"
"this is normal behaviour for a baby with reflux"
"your baby is gaining weight so there's nothing to worry about"
Each and every one of these responses (amongst others) has the singular effect of undermining a mothers instincts, cripples her confidence and sabotages her sanity because in each case, our "carers" demonstrate that they are
are not listening
do not care
implying that "it is in our head" (which has been said out loud to a number of people I've worked with).
click to tweet
These actions of undermining us rip the rug out from under our feet as mothers and cut us right down. What are we supposed to think?
That our doctor secretly thinks we are neurotic?... That maybe I am a bit paranoid... perhaps I am a bit neurotic, perhaps I am a bit paranoid. Maybe it is all me...
Until evening bears down and it all starts again. There is no way on Earth that this crying and pain our babies are in is normal.
And we feel the loneliness, we know the loneliness. Because by the 8th week, we are still up all night every night, and the rest of our antenatal group are asleep. They've managed to meet up three times this week for coffee and while you went to the first one, you spent the entire time walking around outside bouncing your little now she he wouldn't scream the cafe down. And they are not responding to WhatsApp messages now unit 6am at the earliest. The nights are long and lonely. And this all causes depression.
Because those you ask for help imply that you're crazy.
When you are not. You are not crazy. This is not in your head, this is in your reality.
It saddens me that there isn't the infrastructure and education there. I'm so passionate about it that I've started training people who believe that mums deserve better support and babies deserve to be pain free. See here for more details.
If you've been left feeling crazy, then please, PLEASE know that you are not. And your observations are everything when it comes to resolving your baby's colic, reflux and silent reflux. Because when we understand the cause we can choose the proper course of action to essentially "cure" the reflux.
And I don't like that work "cure", because reflux is not a disease despite what the medics say. It is a symptom. Always.