Newborn Reflux & Colic: I Felt Like a Failure When My Baby Was Only 16 Hours Old

Newborn Reflux, failure mum, parent


Sunflower was 16 hours old when a midwife asked me (told me) to go to the common room at the other end of the ward because my baby’s constant crying was disturbing the other ladies on the ward.

Just 16 hours postpartum and reflux, they already made me feel like a failure.

Apparently, "They had all given birth that day and were tired; they needed their rest."

Like, hadn't? And I didn’t?

It was the loneliest night of my life. 

It should have been the happiest.


Alone with Reflux

I was alone. I had a private room in the hospital, which was a surprise gift from my hubby, done with love so that I may get some rest and not be disturbed by other babies on the main ward.

Life had other plans for us.

Sunflower fed all day. And all night.

This was completely normal.

It was normal also for my boobs to be shredded, and I would get the hang of breastfeeding (eventually)… they said.

My gorgeous girl just wanted to be in my arms constantly.

And I mean All. The. Time.

Within 5 minutes of being in anyone else's arms, she cried screamed, even when she was asleep. It was as if she could sense that I wasn’t holding her.

I was totally clueless as to what could have been going on. She had all the routine checks from the hospital staff and was cleared as a perfect baby, except for her crying.


Sunflower was my Firstborn

I didn’t have much experience with babies until Sunflower was born.

My maternal instincts were never very strong. Until this point, babies were nice to hold and then return to their owners. In fact, my dad and I have had this lifelong pride that nobody else’s children ever wanted to spend much time with us.

Babies would cry within 2-3 minutes of me holding them. And honestly, I couldn’t have cared less about it. They were not mine - I didn’t need them to like me.

Talk about a change when I became the custodian of one of my own.

Now, this baby didn’t want to be anywhere but in my arms.

All evening, even when my hubby was turfed out of the ward, Sunflower would feed, then fall asleep in my arms, and when I would put her down in the cot, she would wake within minutes, screaming, and so I would pick her up and repeat the process.

Multiple midwives on the ward told me this was normal; she was just hungry and to keep feeding her.

Three times, they came into our room when Sunflower had fallen asleep in my arms and told me she was not to sleep with me because I might suffocate her.

Three times, they took her out of my arms and put her in the cot. Three times, she woke within minutes, screaming.

I was trying everything.

In between the midwives visiting our room, I was out in the corridor walking and bouncing and singing and trying to do anything to avoid putting my boobs back in Sunflower's mouth.

Each time, I resorted to an agonising feed to help her sleep. All before 1 a.m.

At 1 a.m., on another lonely corridor walk, a ‘friendly’ midwife asked me to go to the common room. Her tone was matron-like.

There was no negotiation to be had. She also told me I obviously wasn’t producing enough milk for Sunflower, so she was hungry. I could borrow a formula bottle from the common room fridge to get her to sleep.

I must, of course, replace this before I would leave the hospital the next morning.

As a mum, I felt like a complete failure, and my baby wasn't even a day old.

I couldn’t do either of the two most basic tasks properly – feed her and help her sleep.

What sort of mum was I going to be? Had I just made the biggest mistake of my life?

Obviously, the midwives knew so much more than me about babies; they were the people I had to trust. They were the only people around at 2 a.m.

They would not be the first to scold me for “responding to her [Sunflower’s] every whim”.

At 3 a.m., I gave up. My body couldn’t stay awake any longer. 

I had to defy the "rules" and keep Sunflower in my bed with me. She was sleeping on my shoulder, and she was going to stay there. I instinctively knew I could grab a few zzzs and a little nap without suffocating her and falling into a deep sleep.

And so, I snuck back into my room and sat in bed with my gorgeous little baby for the rest of the night.

This first night started a long downward spiral into postnatal depression for me. And it would take everything I never knew I had to recover.


Postpartum and Reflux

My severe lack of sleep, ongoing emotional stress from those who couldn't comprehend my situation, medical professionals dismissing my concerns as mere imagination, and family members criticizing my parenting choices formed a perfect storm that severely impacted my mental well-being.

The combination of extreme sleep deprivation, constant emotional turmoil, gaslighting from healthcare providers, and unsupportive family dynamics significantly deteriorated my mental health.

And this was compounded by my beliefs that mental health issues were unacceptable, like another illness for which it's okay to seek support.

My parenting journey stripped me of everything I thought I was.

With two children, I had no clear sense of my own personal identity.

And it seemed that even when I was ready to accept help, the NHS was unprepared to provide it.

They told me I wasn't "bad enough" to warrant support. 

I had no option but to drag myself up and out of the gutter, and I found a whole lot of tools and support waiting for me in other places as soon as I was ready.

Those tools and support strategies are available, and if you feel like getting help, you must ask first; help won't come to you.

I urge you it is easier with help, life is easier with help, and if you have people around you who don't understand you, find others to speak with.

Neither you nor your baby should suffer in silence.

And remember, you are never alone.

There are thousands of other mums going through similar experiences as yours right now.

You are not alone.


How can I help?

⁠Do you think your newborn may have reflux?

I can help.

When a baby is experiencing reflux, the answer lies in understanding WHY the baby is uncomfortable and what is causing this discomfort.

When we resolve the discomfort at the root cause, your baby won't need to ease the discomfort because it won't be there! 

Your doctors do not apply this approach because the NICE guidelines do not tell them to 🤦⁠ ****⁠

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