Pyloric Stenosis Warning for New Moms

Pyloric Stenosis Warning for New Moms – My first-born son had a textbook case of Pyloric Stenosis. I first wrote about my son’s Pyloric Stenosis case way back when Oakland County Moms was known as Rochester Moms. Since my original post, I’ve been summoned to write about my experiences for WDIV – Click on Detroit.

I was referred to someone recently who had questions and thought this was a good time to bring my experiences with it back. Please pass this info along to new moms – especially if they’ve just given birth to a first-born son.


Pyloric stenosis is a condition that causes severe vomiting in the first few months of life. There is narrowing (stenosis) of the opening from the stomach to the intestines, due to enlargement (hypertrophy) of the muscle surrounding this opening (the pylorus, meaning “gate”), which spasms when the stomach empties. It is uncertain whether there is a real congenital narrowing or whether there is a functional hypertrophy of the muscle which develops in the first few weeks of life.

Males are more commonly affected than females. It is also associated with first born males about four times as often, although there exist many more first borns in the poplulation. There is also a genetic predisposition for the disease. It is commonly associated with people of Jewish ancestry, and has multifactorial inheritance patterns. Pyloric stenosis is more common in whites than Hispanics, African Americans, or Asians… It is also less common amongst children of mixed race parents. Caucasian babies with blood type B or O are more likely than other types to be affected.


My son was 3 weeks old suddenly began spitting up like crazy. His spitting up prior to this 3-week mark was a small amount that did not concern me. The difference here was that it seemed as though he was projectile vomiting everything that he was taking in. After his 2nd or 3rd bout of this, I took him straight to my pediatrician.

My pediatrician was of little to no help. Maybe it was too early to tell, but they looked at him, said he seemed happy, and then told me that I have a “happy spitter” on my hands. It was as if they were coming to this conclusion because I had a happy baby, and because I was a new mom – that I must be crazy and prone to exaggeration. The last words the pediatrician said to me were to give it the weekend (I came in on a Thursday), and come back in on Monday if I still had concerns.

I was not at all relieved. Something in my gut kept telling me something was wrong. By Saturday, I could take it no longer and I refused to wait until Monday. My son was obviously suffering so I phoned the after hours office and they paged the doctor on call. When the doctor called and I told him my concerns, he told me to take my son to the Royal Oak Beaumont ER because there was a chance he had Pyloric Stenosis and Royal Oak Beaumont is the closest hospital with pediatric surgeons. Now I was in panic mode. Surgery! I have barely gotten to know my little baby and he was possibly going to be put under anesthesia and undergo surgery?! We scooped up my 3 week old son and headed straight to Royal Oak Beaumont ER.

I hurriedly packed our things and went to the hospital. They put him through a couple tests – barium with upper GI which was inconclusive, and then an ultrasound – which confirmed our suspicions. Our son had pyloric stenosis and required surgery. I was briefed that Pyloric Stenosis happens when the opening to the stomach “develops and hardens too rapidly” at about 3 weeks of age and that the surgery would create a proper opening to allow food to digest.

Post pyloric stenosis surgery, we had to spend the night in the hospital. He was released the next day and for a few weeks afterward, we had to follow a strictly measured diet. Going over the allotted amount could cause him to vomit. Because I was nursing, I would pump and measure it in a bottle for feeding. It was tough feeding 2 oz. to a hungry baby, but we stuck with it until he was ready to eat until full again.

It was a stressful time. We were new parents and barely adjusting when thrown this pyloric stenosis curve ball. But, twelve later, our son is healthy. He still has a scar from the surgery – quite a battle wound for a 3-week old!

The scary thing from my standpoint is that pyloric stenosis symptoms weren’t discussed in my Lamaze classes and baby prep classes. It was an eye-opening experience I knew nothing about. Additionally, because pyloric stenosis usually strikes first-born babies, doctors often try to brand mothers as some stressy new mom instead of taking the time to diagnose it. In the grand scheme of things, pyloric stenosis was a minor roadblock. It could have been a major one if I didn’t trust my gut and allowed my son to be called “just a happy spitter” or worried that the doctors thought I was just being a stressed-out mom.

As a new mom, you expect a lot of stress. So much so, diagnosing something as serious as Pyloric Stenosis can be difficult.

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