So, last week was pretty eventful. Alex reached a new milestone, on Monday night he had his first ever stay on a children’s ward. After being poorly with a cough and cold for what feels like weeks, a trip to the GP on Monday afternoon saw Alex be immediately referred to the paediatric department of our local hospital. After his initial examination by the doctor it was confirmed he was suffering from bronchiolitis. This is a very common illness in babies, especially in winter, and I thought it may be beneficial to share what symptoms to look out for and what may happen if your baby is admitted to hospital for treatment.
What happens when your baby gets bronchiolitis?
What is bronchiolitis? –
“Bronchiolitis is a common lower respiratory tract infection that affects babies and young children under two years old. Most cases are mild and clear up without the need for treatment within two to three weeks, although some children have severe symptoms and need hospital treatment.”
Symptoms – There are quite a few symptoms to look out for. Sometimes your baby can have a typical cold and cough that can worsen and develop into bronchiolitis, so if your child is a bit snuffly it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for the following things –
- Loud and laboured breathing
- Trouble feeding
- Lots of coughing
- Less wet nappies than normal
- Vomiting after feeds
- Pauses in breathing
I knew Alex needed to see the doctor as on Monday morning he threw up all of his morning feed (he’s never sick) and then pretty much refused to nurse for the rest of the day. Whenever I did manage to latch him on he would really struggle to breathe and his belly was going up and down really fast, he was breathing like he had just been for a massive run. When we got to the hospital he was also running a temperature of 39c so it was clear he wasn’t very well at all.
What happens if your baby is admitted to hospital – Alex was in hospital from Monday evening until Wednesday afternoon, now a week on he is still recuperating and is still not over the illness. While he was in hospital the nurses and doctors did several things to try and get him better and to a place where he was well enough to come home. This is what happened while Alex was in hospital.
Monday night –
- Observations taken by nurse
- Examined by doctor
- Feed attempted (breathing difficulties witnessed by doctor)
- Snot/mucus taken from nose for testing
- Bloods taken to test for infection and cannula left in in case antibiotics were needed by IV
- Feeding tube inserted into nose and down throat
- Baby was hooked up to a monitor to keep track of pulse and oxygen levels
- Small feeds of expressed breast milk were given every 2 hours throughout the night via the feeding tube
- Baby slept almost the whole time
- Breastfeed attempted but breathing still laboured during feeds
- Feeds continued to be given via the feeding tube
- As day progressed Alex was able to feed for 5 minutes at the breast and then given the rest via the feeding tube
- Feeds were spaced out to every 3 hours and baby slept the whole day
- Cannula was removed as no antibiotics were needed
- Baby continued to have half breast/half tube feeds for the rest of the day
- Was just fed via tube during night so he could continue to rest – breastfeeding was hard work
- Snot was sucked from nose to try and make feeding easier
- Day 3 was all about ‘normalizing’ and getting breastfeeding back on track
- Small frequent and successful feeds at the breast
- Seen by doctor who agreed feeding tube could be removed
- Discharged with orders to let baby rest as much as possible and to give short and frequent feeds until he was ready to go longer
Alex was in the hospital for not even 48hours but it felt like weeks. I felt like I was constantly hooked up to the electric breast pump and poor Alex had tubes and wires all over him. It is now almost a week since he went into hospital and although feeding is still not what it was, we are definitely getting there. The horrible cough lingers but the doctor said this is normal, it could be weeks before that makes a move.
Bronchiolitis does not always result in a stay in hospital but in some cases it does, especially if you can’t get your baby to feed and they are really struggling with their breathing. Alex was very lucky he did not need to be given any oxygen and that he didn’t stop breathing at all.
So, if you are worried about your baby this what the NHS suggests to do –
Most cases of bronchiolitis aren’t serious, but you should contact your GP if:
- you’re worried about your child
- they are having some difficulty breathing
- they have taken less than half the amount they usually do during the last two or three feeds, or have had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more
- they have a persistent high temperature
- they seem very tired or irritable
Your GP will usually be able to diagnose bronchiolitis based on your child’s symptoms and by examining their breathing.
Dial 999 for an ambulance if:
- your baby is having severe difficulty breathing and is pale or sweaty
- your baby’s tongue or lips are blue (cyanosis)
- there are long pauses in your baby’s breathing
I just want to say thank you to everyone who has been so supportive over on Instagram and to my lovely family and friends for sending all their love. Also, a massive thank you to the lovely doctors and nurses who helped to treat my little man while he was so poorly. Alex is now on the mend but it’s safe to say we are all a little shaken from his trip to the hospital and will be keeping an extra close eye on him while this cough continues to hang around.
If you want more information on bronchiolitis you can find lots of useful details on the NHS website.
Has your baby ever had to stay in hospital? How did you find the whole experience? Maybe your little one has had bronchiolitis too, how long did it take for them to get better? Winter is a rubbish time for little ones with all the nasty germs flying about, I hope we can all make it to Spring without anyone else getting ill!
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