Millie Mackintosh has described her breastfeeding journey as an “emotional rollercoaster” in an Instagram post many new mums will relate to.
The former Made In Chelsea star shared that her daughter was diagnosed with silent reflux after displaying a lot of telltale symptoms.
Reflux is a common condition in which a baby brings up milk, or is sick, during or shortly after feeding. Silent reflux is a little different and can be harder to spot, because babies suffering from it don’t spit out what comes up, they swallow it again. Aside from this, many of the other symptoms of reflux will be present.
Mackintosh, 31, said that her daughter Sienna - who is almost three-months-old, showed indications of having this type of reflux, including: “distracted short breast feeds, crying every night, arching her back, going stiff, coughing and always trying to stand up”.
For Mackintosh and her husband and former co-star, Hugo Taylor, 34, the problems were exacerbated by Sienna’s need to be in a hip harness due to hip dysplasia.
Mackintosh said that her “mummy instinct” made her realise something wasn’t right, despite experts suggesting her daughter’s behaviour was “normal”.
Watch: Top feeding techniques for bottle-fed babies
“All of these symptoms were made worse when she started wearing her hip harness as she couldn’t stretch out her legs which is what many babies do in response to reflux. We had assumed it was the harness itself causing her distress,” Mackintosh explained.
A common sign of reflux is when a baby arches their back to show their discomfort, according to the NCT.
Reflux, including silent reflux, can be more prevalent in babies with “some impairment of their muscles and nerves”, premature babies or babies with low birth weight. Sometimes, babies suffer from reflux for no reason at all.
Because of this diagnosis, Mackintosh has had to give up her breastfeeding journey earlier than she had planned in order to transition to a special formula which will help with Sienna’s condition.
Despite describing it as an “emotional journey”, Mackintosh wrote: “I reminded myself that firstly it’s all about whatever is best for Sienna and secondly I am so grateful for the four months of beautiful bonding we shared during our feeding times (it’s not a given for everyone) I was at peace with whatever need[ed] to be done in order to make Sienna comfortable.”
Watch: How to wash your bottles and dummies so that they are clean and safe for your baby
She also encouraged the “mum police” not to judge her for her decision, although comments from fans were overwhelmingly positive.
“I’m in no way suggesting anyone stops breast feeding just because their baby has reflux... my reflux / breast feeding journey with Sienna was exacerbated by her wearing a hip harness,” she explained.
“Breast feeding became even more difficult (impossible to ever get her in a comfy position) and I did try to combi feed for a while but I found it all too much.”
Reflux can sometimes be eased by making changes to the way your baby is being fed. In other cases - as in Mackintosh’s - the decision to choose a different form of feeding may be made.
According to NCT, ways midwives and health visitors might suggest to ease discomfort - other than changing the baby’s milk - include:
Gently burping your baby regularly throughout feeding.
Ensuring they take breaks during a feed.
Giving your baby shorter but more frequent feeds.
Keeping your baby’s head higher than their bottom during feeds.
Keeping your baby upright for a bit after feeding.
Changing baby on their side to avoid any discomfort caused by lifting their legs up towards their stomach.
If you’re ever in doubt about your baby’s feeding, NCT’s support line and website is available to help.
Mackintosh concluded her post with a simple message: “It’s been a tough few months, needless to say anxiety levels went sky-high and I’m still struggling with the emotional rollercoaster of being a new mum - the guilt, the worry, the panic and the other hundred things that I try not to overwhelm myself with!”