One of the things we struggled most with during Casey’s life was feeding. She was on continuous feeds all of her life. Often her gut would slow down and we would have a lot of residuals that we had to deal with. If you are not a tube feeder, “residuals” is the amount of undigested formula that stays in the stomach. Just like all of us, she would also get gas build-up in her stomach.
With her needing to be connected and getting formula most of the time, it was hard to disconnect her to provide a way to vent the gas in her stomach. With residuals, when we did try to vent, a lot of time formula would come out as well as the gas.
We came up with a few tricks to make venting a little easier. If we could stop running the formula in, we used the diaper method. This way was pretty simple.
We would leave the extension connected. Next, we would take a 60 ml syringe (or whatever large size you have on hand, as long as it has the catheter-style tip) and remove the plunger so it is just the open syringe.
Next, connect the syringe to the extension. Be sure the med port is closed and keep the extension clamped. Secure a diaper around the open end of the syringe. It may take a few tries to figure out the best way to get the syringe wrapped. But with the diaper on the end, the gas can escape and the formula that comes with it will not make a mess.
Once the diaper is on, unclamp the extension and you are venting. If you are watching the volume in and out, you can weigh the diaper just as you would for a wet diaper as well to see how much formula was lost.
The second trick that we used was not one we created. But it is one that not a lot of people know about. When we needed to keep Casey’s formula running but needed to allow a vent while feeding, we used what is called a Farrell bag. This is a bag that you can get through your Durable Medical Equipment (DME) company. You will need a doctor’s order to get these. But with the order they are typically covered by insurance.
The Farrell bag was hung just like the formula bag and then plugged into the extension. There was a special “Y” valve on the Farrell line that was for plugging in the formula line (or bolus feed if that is your feeding method).
The location of the “Y” port in relation to Casey was the trick. For her to be able to have formula going in and gas coming out, the “Y” had to be below her stomach. In order to use the Farrell bags your child has to be sitting up while feeding. Casey never liked sitting up so we didn’t use this method much. We typically used the diaper method.
Whichever method sounds better for you, I hope that if nothing else I helped avoid some messy formula leaks the next time you need to vent.
Read Marty’s stories and her tips and tricks using this link.
My son is 7-years-old and still drinks from a bottle. We didn’t plan this, and we have tried to work around it. But the bottle gives him the flow control he needs to digest liquids properly.