tl;dr: Baby J had diarrhea and was warded in the Mount Alvernia Paediatric Ward. Mount Alvernia Hospital has single rooms for babies and toddlers which are very well-equipped. There is a steam steriliser for baby bottles, a bottle soap dispenser to wash our bottles in the bathroom, and a small play area. They are flexible in letting more than one companion stay in the single room without extra charge, as they understand parents may need an extra helping hand. This also comes, of course, with very warm and friendly nurses. However, these rooms are very limited especially during the weekends.
How It All Started and What We First Did
Three Mondays ago, Baby J started getting the runs. He was pooping every 3 to 4 hours, so we had to do at least 6-8 nappy changes in a day. There was no fever, no loss of appetite, and his activity level was still high. We could not figure what was causing the diarrhea, but it was causing him great discomfort in his bum area. He had angry red diaper rashes all over his bum, and would cry whenever we wiped him down.
The following day, we headed to Guardian and bought the purple Desitin (Maximum Strength Original Paste) to treat his rashes. This worked really well for Baby J and his rashes went away within half a day.
We also got the BioGaia ProTectis probiotic drops to strengthen Baby J’s tummy.
Upon a mummy friend’s experience and advice, she recommended Smecta to control baby’s diarrhea, and is totally baby-safe.
You may purchase these items in our local pharmacies, like Watsons and Guardian, using your baby’s CDA account.
We didn’t quite feel the urgency to head to the doctor’s yet, as Baby J was still his usual active self. We also thought the we could base it off on others’ experience to control his diarrhea.
Was it the Milk?
So Baby J had recently switched milk brands, after slowly weaning him off another. Daddy Sean started to suspect that it was perhaps the new milk that was unsuitable for his tiny tummy. On the fourth day, we switched him back to his usual brand, but the hypoallergenic (HA) version, to go easy on his tummy. The next day, it seemed like his diarrhea had subsided as we only changed his nappy 4 times.
So we thought, perhaps it was the milk that was unsuitable. Phew, problem solved!
Why We Went to Mount Alvernia
The day after we switched him back to his usual brand of milk, HA version, was the sixth day since Baby J started getting the runs. We had lunch with one of mummy’s bffs, Ying, at Thomson Plaza. Prior to the lunch meeting, Baby J already had 3 nappy changes, which was starting to worry us a little. But we were sort of hoping that it was only temporary.
Right in the middle of lunch, Baby J had diarrhea again! Mummy and daddy became very worried, and decided to take Baby J to the Mount Alvernia clinic. However, as daddy had to work, Ying accompanied mummy to Mount Alvernia clinic.
What the Medical Officer at Mount Alvernia Clinic Suggested
It wasn’t very long before it was our turn to see the doctor, however, Baby J needed another diaper change while waiting at the clinic. Sigh oh sigh. Anyway, I gave the description of Baby J’s symptoms, my own observations and how I was treating Baby J’s diarrhea to the medical officer:
- Needing at least 6 diaper changes in a day
- Colour of poop was darkish green and had a layer of mucus
- No fever
- Still hydrated as he was still producing tears and did not have dry mouth
- Still high activity level and very playful
- Daily dose of Smecta and probiotics
The medical officer then had three proposals for us:
- Go back home and resume my usual treatment of Smecta and probiotics, then wait till Monday to see the paediatrician,
- Take a blood test immediately to check for any virus infection (which was highly unlikely as Baby J did not have a fever), or
- Ward Baby J so that we may see the paediatrician immediately.
The answer felt pretty clearcut for me at that moment; it had to be option 3. The diarrhea had already gone on for 6 days and my treatment was obviously not working. I didn’t want to wait 2 more days to see the specialist. Moreover, Baby J had a pretty good hospitalisation insurance plan.
We were very lucky to get a single room in the paediatric ward. By 4+pm, Baby J was in his room and needed another diaper change. Maybe I should mention that I was also collecting his diaper samples as well, in case they wanted to do a stool test.
The Paediatrician’s Diagnosis and Treatment
Dr Terence Tan from Mount Alvernia’s Kinder Clinic was Baby J’s paediatrician. He showed up pretty soon after Baby J was warded to check up on him. With the symptoms I described to him, he immediately came up with a very confident diagnosis:
Baby J had most likely contracted a stomach virus which very quickly cleared up by itself within the first couple of days. However, due to the damage by the virus in little Baby J’s gut, he was then lactose-intolerant. Since his diet mainly consisted of milk, whenever he consumed lactose, he would get the runs. So this should persist for at least a week while his gut repairs itself.
He even gave a pretty interesting analogy. How long does the tsunami take to create extensive damage to a place? One day. How long does it take for us to repair the place? Many years.
To eliminate all other causes and to make sure that Baby J’s gut was clear of harmful viruses, Dr Terence Tan also ordered a stool test. Yup, the collection of smelly diapers came in handy! 😀
So Dr Terence prescribed the following:
- Lactose-free milk. So no more normal milk for Baby J for the time being.
- Hydration salts to prevent dehydration.
- Probiotics. Since we had already started with BioGaia ProTectis, they gave us that again.
He then left for the day and assured us that Baby J would most likely be discharged the next day.
Our single room in the Mount Alvernia Paediatric Ward was pretty well-equipped. It came with a small play area, and there was even a steam steriliser and bottle washing liquid for our baby bottles! Super baby-friendly!
The bed was a giant baby cot, so that parents may close up all sides if they need to leave baby’s side for a moment. The height of the grills is adjustable and can go higher than a baby’s or toddler’s height. That night, I ended up squeezing into the cot with Baby J with all sides up to prevent myself from rolling over. 😛 Daddy accompanied us at night after work and slept on the couch.
The food was fine; Baby J had pureed pork porridge for that evening’s dinner, and pureed oatmeal the next morning. They provided an extra set of meals for one companion, so daddy and mummy had to share. 🙂
The Day After and Post-Discharge from Mount Alvernia
Dr Terence Tan arrived at 7+am in the morning to check up on Baby J and to deliver his lab test results. It was negative on common gut viruses and blood in stool, but we had to wait for the results of two more tests. After feeling Baby J’s tummy, Dr Terence Tan assured us that the diarrhea would clear within the following week and we could then make the switch back to his normal milk.
If we were to wean Baby J off the lactose-free milk after he has fully recovered from diarrhea, we had to slowly transit over, i.e. first day only 1 feed of normal milk, second day 2 feeds of normal milk, and so on. If at any point, the diarrhea were to return, we had to gradually reduce the feed of normal milk one at a time.
He discharged Baby J by 9.30am, once the pharmacy was ready with our prescribed lactose-free milk, hydrating salts and probiotics. We also had an appointment to see Dr Terence that Wednesday for a follow-up if we were still concerned about his diarrhea. However, Dr Terence Tan gave us the option to cancel the appointment if we find that Baby J’s condition has improved.
Check out happy Baby J that evening! So happy and free!
By Tuesday (two days after discharge), we found that Baby J was indeed pooping way less, though still not quite healed, so we called to cancel his appointment at Dr Terence Tan’s clinic. He even went for his swimming class as usual. On Wednesday, Dr Terence Tan’s clinic called us with the rest of Baby J’s stool test results, and we were in the clear. Yeay!
It’s been about 10 days since Baby J’s discharge, and we are in the process of transitioning him back to his normal formula milk. Baby J’s diarrhea went away by the last weekend. All is well now. 🙂