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Recurrent Vomiting in NewBorn

By Dr Gilbert Adimora
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This condition can be very frightening and distressing to mothers. A newborn baby starts vomiting repeatedly after birth and this seems to occur with each feed. If untreated the baby gets progressively weaker because of the energy expended while vomiting and compounded by poor feeding which results in low calories available for the babies’ metabolism.

One of the most common causes of this condition is the irritation of the walls of the stomach by swallowed amniotic fluid by the baby during delivery. Untreated, this may persist for several days and in some cases unnecessarily aggressive and potentially harmful remedies may be applied. The affected babies need to be treated in a hospital set up where the stomach could be washed out. As soon as this is done the baby experiences some relief and start feeding properly. In some cases some other conditions or causes that are easily treatable may be responsible for the recurrent vomiting. Medical attention and intervention are required in this case.

Most new born babies should be able to start breast feeding within one hour of birth. This assumes that the mother is well and stable after delivery. Ideally a new born baby should be put to the mothers’ breast soon after birth. There are some advantages in this. The bond (closeness) between the mother and the baby is made stronger. Apart from this, the mothers’ breast starts to run much earlier because of the stimulation from the baby’s suckling. Labour puts a baby through a lot of stress and this may make them come out with low blood sugar. This can be corrected early if the baby is fed as soon as possible after delivery.

There is a common belief that a baby should not be given anything but water at least for 2 days after delivery. The reasons are to get rid of the first flow of milk which is not good for the baby and also to allow the baby’s be prepared to receive the mothers or else the baby will develop abdominal gripes (pains). Both of these beliefs are wrong. The baby’s stomach, even when premature is very ready to receive milk and digest it. The old belief is that the mothers’ first flow of breast milk is not suitable and is unsafe for the baby is wrong. In fact there are advantages in making sure that the baby gets, if possible all this first milk. It is called colostrum in medical terms and actually contains a lot of human protein products called immunoglobulin that protects the child from infective organisms. It also contains more protein and calories than the milk that flows later.

Sometimes the flow of milk starts late and is a source of concern for the parents. This may be due to the psychological state of the mother. Many mothers are psychologically stressed after during and after delivery especially during the first pregnancy. A mother who is not relaxed may not be able to produce breast milk early and in good quantity. In some special cases doctors prescribe infant formula for feeding of the baby till the breast starts to flow. During this period it is advised that the mother should put the baby to breast before feeding with formula so that the suckling will help the breast start to produce milk early. Any child in who breast feeding has not been established 48 hours after delivery should be taken for medical attention. A baby on exclusive breast feeding does not need water since the breast milk contains enough water to meet the needs of the baby.

Professor Adimora is the medical director of Favoured child Clinic, Enugu. A Consultant Paediatrician with the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu and Senior Lecturer in the department of paediatrics, college of medicine, University of Nigeria Nsukka, Nigeria. A bible teacher. He is also the author of the book 'Anxieties of a young mother'. Author’s website: E:mail: [email protected] [email protected]