Jan Gambino, also known as “The Reflux Mom” stopped by to visit on the show.
Note: Refer to audio player below to listen to this episode.
Jan Gambino, M.Ed is the author of Reflux 101: A Parent’s Guide to Gastroesophageal Reflux and an expert on parenting an infant or child with reflux. Reflux 101 offers information, support and practical tools for coping with reflux, guiding the reader through a difficult season of parenting.
Known as “The Reflux Mom”, she has guided hundreds of parents as they struggled to care for a fussy infant or picky eater. Jan first received extensive “on the job” training on caring for an infant with reflux after the birth of her daughter with severe reflux and asthma. Her daughter just did not eat, sleep or grow like her other children and the care giving was exhausting. Jan found that a network of other parents helped her learn new home care techniques and coping skills. Later she starting offer support and guidance to other parents.
Jan holds a master’s degree in early childhood special education and has worked with infants and toddlers with special needs and feeding disorders for 19 years. In addition, she held the position of associate director of a reflux patient support organization for six years. Currently, Jan is the Lead Expert on Acid Reflux at The HealthCentral Network. She has published numerous articles in magazines and newsletters. The Reflux Mom’s website at RefluxMom.com is a reliable source of information for parents and caregivers.
Jan lives in Maryland with her three children and two cats. She spends most of her time spewing helpful and graphic information about gastroesophageal reflux to friends and strangers or driving her van with vanity plates that read: GERDMOM.
Contact & Information:
Web Site: Refluxmom.com
Buy the Book: Stores.lulu.com/reflux101
Edited Transcript of Interview with Jan Gambino
Eric Michaels: How did you learn everything you know about reflux and become "The
Jan Gambino: When I became a parent, I didn’t expect to learn so much about reflux. My youngest daughter had difficulties from the start and she just didn’t eat, sleep and grow like my other two girls. I struggled to care for her and understand her health issues. After many doctors’ appointments and tests, it was determined that she had Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and asthma. While she had excellent doctors and cutting edge treatments, I still had lingering questions and I needed support. Care giving is a very lonely job and I felt isolated and frustrated. When I connected with other parents, I realized that they offered the support and encouragement that I needed to cope. Eventually I joined a parent support group and later worked as the associate director of the organization. Over the years, I have talked to hundreds of parents from around the world about caring for an infant or child with reflux. It was the on the job training from caring for my daughter and sharing the journey with so many other parents that I learned how to be a Reflux Mom.
Eric Michaels: Explain the difference between GER (Gastroesophageal Reflux) and
GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease).
Jan Gambino: The terminology is confusing. GER is normal, Common-from infancy to adulthood, we all have a bit of reflux once in a while. Most babies are really good at this-most babies spit up on occasion and as often as once per feeding. Ask just about any new mom, GER is not a disease and does not require medical treatment. GERD is more serious, leading to complications: pain, crying, poor weight gain, poor sleep, poor feeding, arching and crying during and after a meal, respiratory problems. GERD may require home care and medical treatment including medication, diet and positioning. Sometimes it is hard to tell if the baby has GER or GERD, even for the doctor. The symptoms may starts off looking like GER and as time goes on, the symptoms become more worrisome, leading to a diagnosis of GERD.
Eric Michaels: What should I do if I think my baby has GER or GERD?
Jan Gambino: Talk to the doctor about your concerns and observations. Schedule a separate appointment just to talk about your concerns about feeding and digestion. During well baby check ups, you and the doctor have so many issues to cover such as shots and car seat safety. Your concerns about digestion may get lost in the discussion. Keep a symptoms journal-when you are caring for a high need baby, it can be difficult to remember everything. Did she really wake up at 3, 4 and 5am or was it a bad dream?
Eric Michaels: What are the best treatments for a baby with GERD?
Jan Gambino: Every baby is different so there is no “one size fits all” treatment for reflux. Often a combination of treatments will reduce symptoms and allow the baby to grow and thrive. Treatments may include:
- Diet: If the mother is nursing, changing her diet may help. A special formula may be recommended by the doctor for formula fed babies.
- Positioning: Hold her upright after a meal for 30 minutes.
- Careful eating: Offering small, frequent meals and burping often will help with digestion.
- Medication: The doctor may prescribe acid reducing medication for reflux.
Caregivers and doctors may need to adjust the treatments as the symptoms change and the baby grows. This often requires frequent visits to the doctor for follow up.
Eric Michaels: Caring for a baby that fusses, cries and struggles to eat and sleep
can be stressful. What is your recommendation to other parents?
Jan Gambino: Remember that most babies outgrow reflux during the first year of life. While the treatments may not eliminate all of the symptoms, the treatments will help to reduce pain and discomfort.
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