As I type, Alice is sleeping on my lap recovering from a particularly unpleasant tummy bug. There's been a lot of it around lately according to my doctor, and I'm hearing about lots of cases from friends. She started being sick at 4am on Monday, and has pretty consistently vomited every 2-3 hours since then. Today we've also had the added delights of diarrhoea to contend with. I must admit, I have rarely had negative thoughts about reusable nappies until this week!
I took her to the doctor yesterday who gave me a prescription for a rehydration drink, although she agreed that Alice wasn't dehydrated at the time. Despite the frequent bouts of sickness and diarrhoea, over 24 hours on she is still seeming to be reasonably well hydrated. Her tongue isn't dry, she still makes tears, and she is getting wet nappies. I can only put this down to the breastmilk. Since Sunday evening, she hasn't touched solid food, or even water. Breastmilk is the only thing she will accept. I have decided to ignore the doctors advice to express milk and add water to it. It seems a strange idea to me to dilute the milk that seems to be helping her, not to mention that drinking from a cup doesn't have the emotional comfort that getting milk straight from the tap does.
Having a poorly baby makes me feel very powerless. There's not much I can do to help, but feeding her is giving her the strength she needs to get through without too much trouble. Apparently, I'm not alone. According to the NCT, babies who are not breastfed are 5 times more likely to be admitted to hospital with gastroenteritis and in 1995, the Department of Health estimated that the NHS spends at least £35 million per year treating gastroenteritis in bottle-fed babies in England (Breastfeeding: Good Practice Guidance to the NHS, Department of Health 1995).
Anyway, after all my handwashing, laundry and covering everything in tea tree oil, I'm not feeling too good myself. If only breastmilk could protect me from the ill effects too!