Pyloric Stenosis: Why Your Newborn May Not Be Thriving
What happens when a baby has pyloric stenosis?
At two weeks of age, my first born started spitting up his milk. He was breastfed at the time. The spitting up happened anytime from just after nursing to two hours later. And once it happened, it didn’t stop. After every feeding-spit up. Not just a little but a lot!
It was so much that we both needed a clothing change after these spit ups. I would lay bath towels around him constantly to try to catch it
All of this baby stuff was new to me, but I knew this wasn’t right. I took him to the doctor to have him checked only to be told it was reflux and was told to put him on formula. Tried that. Still more spitting up, but more forceful now. Projectile vomiting.
I switched doctors and was told the same thing. Then after another week of this, they told me he probably had a virus. I was in and out of the doctor’s office weekly trying to tell them that he wasn’t getting better, only worse. He couldn’t lie flat without spitting up, he went from crying A LOT (no wonder) to listlessness and he was only maintaining his birth weight. The doctors kept insisting it was a virus. I was so frustrated.
I still don’t know why any of the doctors didn’t take me or him more serious.
Finally, at six weeks old and after many doctor visits, I took him back and he spewed all over the exam table. I was so thankful that he finally did it in front of them. Thank you, baby!
The doctor looked so startled. He immediately called a children’s hospital in Atlanta and had us go there. The first test they performed was a Barium Swallow. We all watched the monitor to see the liquid travel through his digestive track. It stopped inside his stomach and went no further. The technician said, “That’s his problem.”
The sound of those words lifted so much stress and anxiety from me. I was so grateful someone finally found SOMETHING to fix.
Pyloric Stenosis is when the muscles around the small opening that lets food and liquid move from the stomach -after it mixes with digestive juices- into the small intestine are too tight. The little donut shaped muscle is called the pyloric sphincter. The trouble happens when the muscles overdevelop and close off, leaving the contents of the stomach to sit and curdle. Eventually, the stomach spasms and the liquid is forced back up the esophagus – and baby vomits.
The most dangerous thing about pyloric stenosis is that is causes dehydration due to only a very small amount of fluid can make it into the baby’s body to keep him hydrated.
This condition is four times more common in males than females. You can read more about pyloric stenosis here.
After a quick surgery and recovery, babies begin to thrive. Their stomachs will spasm a bit longer until it heals- so some spitting up (much less) will usually happen. Eventually, they will make up for missing all of those meals.
At three months, my son was so hungry I began him on what I call “baby mush.” He could not get enough and became a butterball. He was well fed, happy, and finally slept through the night.
My son is 19 now and has suffered no long-term effects. He grew into a strong, healthy athlete. He still has his little scar on his belly and every time I see it I am reminded of how thankful I am for him showing out on the doctor’s table that day long ago.
As a new mom, we don’t know what a “normal” amount of spit up is. And it can vary from one baby to the next. If you feel like something is wrong, pester your doctors until they look into it further. Has anyone else experienced this? Let me know, share your story.