G Tube Feeding

The thought of G tube feeding and enteral feeds for your child may be a scary one.

Many parents feel guilty, upset and overwhelmed at the thought of their child needing enteral feeds. In reality though, if your child is constantly stuck in a high chair or sitting down to be tortured and eat yet another meal that will last an hour, a G tube feeding may be the kind thing for you to do for your child.

Many parents report once the stress of feeding is lifted the whole family becomes happier. Since feeding does not have to be an all consuming event, meals become more peaceful and the family is actually happier. 

If you have been doing everything you can to get your child to eat enough to gain weight and they just aren’t doing it, a G-tube may be a good solution. A G-Tube feeding is given directly into the stomach to provide formula through the tube. This is used as a source of nourishment for your child and will hopefully get him to gain weight.

How does a G-tube Feeding Work?

tube feeding http://www.flickr.com/photos/gurms/2112171163/

A tube is placed into the stomach to deliver nutrition. A G-tube is also called a PEG, which stands for Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy. Once the tube is placed, the formula goes through the tube and into the stomach. There are many different schedules your child may be on, ranging from continuous 24 hour feeds which would be a slow and steady drip, to quick bolus feeds which only take 5 to 10 minutes for a certain amount of formula.

How do I know if a G-tube feeding is the right kind of feeding tube for my child?

The decision to give your child a tube is not one to be taken lightly. Speak to your child’s pediatrician and gastroenterologist and see what they advise. Your first step may be to try an NG tube to see if weight gain can be achieved before making the commitment to get a G tube, however an NG tube is not a long term solution and if your child has difficulty having things on her face she may be bothered by a tube through the nose. The NG tube often gets in the way of progress with oral feeding, so that may be something to think about as well.

Your child may also need a J-tube. All of her symptoms should be considered before deciding which feeding tube is best for your child.

Will my child be able to eat while receiving G-tube feeding?

Yes! As long as your child is safely able to eat there is no reason why she shouldn’t be able to eat once she gets a G tube feeding. In the beginning she may not be hungry because she is being tube fed all the time or too much. Once your healthcare team and you figure out a good way to manipulate her feeds however, she should be back on track and able to make progress with feeding.

How long will she need to have the G-tube in?

The answer to this one is different for everyone. It all depends on how your child handles the formula, how well she is able to gain weight and most importantly how much she is able to eat and improve her feeding skills and volume. Be assured however, that as long as your child is eventually able to eat enough to survive without the tube, she will be able to have the G-tube removed. Although the decision to tube feed is a difficult one for the parent, once the parent and child gets used to it many time it's actually not as bad as it seems. Check out the YouTube video below to see a little boy actually giving himself a G tube feeding! Remember, it's all about how you approach it! Of course in a perfect world your child would not need a tube, but if he does, why not make the best of it like this little boy?