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Australian Survivor‘s Felicity ‘Flick’ Henry has had a tough start to her motherhood journey with both her and baby Maverick, born January 18, 2022, coping with various conditions including his silent reflux and her prolapsed bladder.
Prior to falling pregnant with her first baby, Mav, with husband Jonathan ‘JJ’ Henry, Flick was already living with endometriosis and coeliac disease, which she openly shared on her social media.
In September 2020, Flick underwent a laparoscopy to remove the debilitating endometriosis and it was recommended that she try to conceive sooner rather than later. Fast-forward to August 2021, and Flick and JJ announced a double whammy – their marriage and their pregnancy!
“I hope that sharing my story inspires others that they too can get through the fourth trimester.”
Here, Flick shares exclusively with Bounty Parents, the first seven weeks of her life as a mum – and it has been a rollercoaster!
“I hope that sharing my story inspires others that they too can get through the fourth trimester, no matter the challenges that come their way as every mother has their own. It has been extremely challenging for me but I know that from my experiences I will learn and grow to be the best person and mother I can be to my son, Maverick,” Flick says.
“The moment you hold your baby in your arms, your whole world changes. Maverick brings so much Joy into my life every single day despite the sleepless nights and I am incredibly grateful and proud to be his mum as we go on this journey together. My husband and I have a whole new appreciation for one another and I’m so lucky to have him by my side supporting me and Mavy.”
Read the full interview below…
“It’s hard because you see a lot of mums say how easy the newborn stage is, but for a mum or dad with a colic/reflux baby it really is one of the most hardest and challenging times for them.”
Maverick has colic and silent reflux. How did had something wrong, and that it wasn’t normal for a new baby?
Maverick was welcomed into the world during the peak of COVID in January 2022, at the Gold Coast University Hospital where we stayed for a few nights. During those two nights, Mav was quiet and sleeping “like a baby”.
It wasn’t until we brought him home and, about day four, he started crying and screaming through the nights into the days. About a week in we realised it must have been colic because he was screaming every time he would try to poo or fart, which was constantly.
At his two-week photoshoot, the photographer at Wilde and Jae Photography mentioned that she thought he may have silent reflux as well (she was most certainly a baby whisperer!), as her baby had it too and she recognised it in Maverick.
That next week we went to the doctors and explained about his pain when trying to pass gas or stools and wondering whether he had silent reflux too.
What did they recommend to help Maverick ?
The doctor saw him when he was going through an episode and diagnosed him. He also prescribed him with Omeprazole to treat the reflux. After a lot of going back and forth, we decided not to get this medicine.
We chatted with a few other health professionals in the field and were informed that a baby’s systems can take time and, usually for colic and reflux, there is an underlying issue. The challenge for us was to find out what underlying issue was causing Maverick to be this way.
Did you find anything else that worked for colic?
My sister’s son had colic symptoms and I remember how hard that time was for her. Never did I realise I would go through a similar thing with Maverick!
We tried absolutely everything from all different sorts of medication for colic such as Infacol, Wilbys, colic teas, probiotics and gripe water. Some things we found helped relieve Maverick’s symptoms a little but never completely, and some would make it worse due to the fact he has the silent reflux .
“The challenge for us was to find out what underlying issue was causing Maverick to be this way.”
What were the next steps you tried?
After weeks of trying different medicines we saw a midwife who was referred to us by a friend. This midwife has a world of knowledge and always motivated my husband and me, after feeling so defeated after weeks of sleepless nights. She told us about a book called The Discontented Little Baby Book, which covers everything to do with babies.
As she recognised I had an oversupply of breastmilk, she suggested that it could be lactose overload causing Maverick’s silent reflux and colic. After doing lots of research myself, I started expressing my foremilk before most feeds so that he wasn’t getting too much of it, and I did notice that his symptoms were slightly easing.
The symptoms didn’t disappear though, as I couldn’t express too much foremilk as it would just increase my supply – which is the opposite of what I wanted to do.
Did things start to get better after six weeks, when your milk supply settled?
Mavy had his six-week vaccinations and was a very unhappy baby for that night, so we had to give him Panadol to help him calm down. For the rest of the week Maverick’s symptoms became a lot worse – we were back to square one. We weren’t sure whether the vaccinations set his system off but he was struggling a lot again during that week day and night. I felt so defeated.
I also lost my supply for a day or two after blockfeeding for five days, which I did to try and reduce my supply in case that was the cause of his symptoms. That week was especially a very hard week in our household as breastfeeding was the only thing I felt I didn’t have issues with (besides the oversupply) and when I lost my supply for a few days I felt like I had failed him as a mother.
I think after everything else I had gone through in the several weeks before it all just became too much for me. My supply came back after lots of feeding and pumping, and now is not as strong as it used to be.
Maverick is seven weeks old now. Are things getting better?
Maverick has his good and bad days now. We just had our best week ever in week 7, but then we had a few nights and days where he wasn’t so good. We have reminded ourselves that this is something that won’t instantly be better over night, but will take time.
We now try to have a routine in place for Mav. During every feed we burp him several times throughout the feed, and have him upright for at least 30 minutes afterwards. We do tummy time with him 3 times a day for 7 minutes (7 weeks = 7 minutes, 8 weeks = 8 minutes and so forth). We do bicycle kicks and tummy massage every time he wakes up from a nap, and sometimes throughout the night when he is in discomfort.
I try to get him to have a nap after being awake for an hour throughout the day – sometimes this has been extremely challenging but is most certainly getting better than it was. The Snoo that he sleeps in has reflux legs so he sleeps on an incline, and we put him in the bouncer a lot, and have him upright on us as well. He has gripe water after every second feed and of a night, my husband, gives him a bath and a bottle of breastmilk with probiotic drops in there for his tummy.
We have found that since doing all of these things, on top of expressing my foremilk before feeding him or pulling him off while my letdown drops he has improved, but again there are good and bad days. So until his system is fully developed I think the symptoms will continue to show just hopefully not as bad as they used to be.
You were pushing a long time during Mav’s birth. Did that have an impact?
Maverick was born after 3.5 hours of pushing and I remember looking at his head seeing how it looked a little lopsided. I asked the midwife about this but she said it would mould back to a normal shape. Over the course of a day it most certainly improved, but we found that Maverick would only sleep on one side and no matter what we did he would go back to that side.
After several weeks we noticed he was getting flat head on that side. At his six-week check up, the doctor diagnosed him with mild torticollis and plagiocephaly. He is currently now seeing a chiro 1-2 times a week along with us ensuring he doesn’t lay on that side anymore and lots of tummy time to build strength and get him facing the other way.
We also have two flathead pillows one for his pram and one for when he is laying down during the day. Luckily we got on top of this all super early as it is something that some parents don’t realise until a lot later on.
Flick and JJ sealed their 10-year relationship when they announced their marriage and pregnancy in August 2021, with Maverick arriving on January 18, 2022.
You had an episiotomy that became infected. How did you know and what did you do to treat it?
After 7 days I had a midwife from the hospital check my stitches after I told her it was becoming more painful. The rule with an episiotomy is that it should get better each day, if it begins to get worse and more painful that is a sign of an infection, which I didn’t realise. Mine had been getting increasingly painful for a few days.
I was told to get antibiotics that night which I was on for 5 days. I was lucky as the infection was a lot worse the following two days and by the third day the antibiotics began to start working. I did all of the right things by using a peri bottle, changing my pads constantly but still managed to get an infection.
How did you know your bladder was prolapsed? And what can you do to help that?
As I had to keep an eye on my infection I was taking photos and then realised that things looked a little different down there, which they say it always does after a baby. But my urethra looked to be swollen so I went to the doctors and was referred to a Women’s Pelvic Physio where she diagnosed me with Stage 1 Bladder Prolapse. My bladder was pushing on my urethra, hence why it looked swollen.
I am seeing the physio once a month and doing exercises daily. I am glad I got on top of it early and it is very common, a lot of women don’t get checked so they don’t realise they have it. It is something you most certainly want to get on top of early. They say up to 50% of women will have some type of prolapse after giving birth.
“Maverick’s cousin Lennox is almost 7 months but he was born 7 weeks early. They live next door to us as well so the boys will be super close 🥰”
Family and community support is really important to new mums. How has this helped you through the first few months?
These past several weeks have been especially challenging on me mentally and physically but what has helped me get through these challenging times is having the support from my family, friends and other mums online who can relate to what I have been going through.
Through a lot of the sleepless nights I would be online chatting with other mums going through a similar thing, It made me feel like I wasn’t alone, I wasn’t the only one going through what I was going through with my baby. Its hard because you see a lot of mums say how easy the newborn stage is, but for a mum or dad with a colic/reflux baby it really is one of the most hardest and challenging times for them.
I am so proud of my husband and how he has been so supportive of me and Maverick throughout these weeks, and I am so proud of myself. It hasn’t been easy but I am grateful everyday that Maverick is otherwise a healthy happy baby. I know one day this will all be a distant memory so I have taught myself to be in the present and just focus on one day at a time (great tip for mums and dads going through the same thing).
Know that you are not alone and these challenging times will only make you a stronger parent for your beautiful baby. Having a good support system is what will help you get through. My husband gives Mav a bottle of expressed milk every night so I can pump and go to bed a few hours earlier to get a good few hours in before the night ahead in case I am up all night with Maverick. This has helped me so much and I am so lucky to have such an amazingly supportive husband.
“It hasn’t been easy but I am grateful everyday that Maverick is otherwise a healthy happy baby.”
Flick shared tips for the fourth trimester on her Instagram account: