I never in a million years thought that this particular occurrence could bring me so much joy and relief. It’s been a long time coming and we’ve worked so hard to get to this point. I got the news while at work…
My son finally had a bowel movement.
This is one of the dirty details that no one cares to share with you pre-parenthood. According to Emedicine Health.com, constipation affects up to 20% of children at any given time. My poor baby had unfortunately fallen into this statistic. His lack of “movement” has been the cause of many sleepless nights in my household. For four days, we tried everything: Karo Syrup, baby laxatives, glycerine suppositories (those weren’t fun at all), and nothing yielded instant results.
I called the Doctor’s office which provides a nifty little nurse hotline. The nurse proceeded to tell me that this was natural and to keep at what I was doing. Her voice was tinged with “you’re overreacting” undertones, but I was convinced that this was not your ordinary constipation. He was up every two hours with painful “contractions”, so as to not disturb his sister or father in the back rooms, I slept with him for three nights on the couch in the living room. Being the Mommy that I am, I was determined to nurse him through this.
The first night was sweet. I held him tight as we pushed together. By the third night, we had to have a talk.
“Look negro… I don’t know what you’re gonna have to do, but you need to get this out.”
“Bah!”, he said in agreement.
This was obviously something that only a Father could handle. I got the call at work – that after much pushing, a lot of yelling and coaching, and some funky positioning, Will had helped our son push out the poop of the century.
“I’m not sure where he was keeping all of that”, he told me.
I didn’t care. As far as I was concerned, this was the best day of my life.
My coworkers agreed, and we all celebrated with cheers. “Yay for pooping!”
Now those of you without children who are reading this may think that I’m absolutely nuts. Those of you with children know exactly what I’m feeling. During this trial, I talked with many parents who said that they had gone through the same thing with their tots. To see your once rambunctious child relegated to a corner of the couch in obvious discomfort for days on end is heartbreaking… But the floodgates have opened and we’re back in business!
How did I do it? Here are some tips from BabyCenter.com. I used each and every one of these to some degree over the course of four days and it finally worked:
Child Constipation Home Remedies
- Get her some exercise. If your baby’s a crawler, encourage her to do a few laps. If she’s not crawling yet, try pumping her legs: While she’s lying on her back, gently move her legs in a forward, circular motion as if she were pedaling a bicycle.
- Massage your baby’s belly. Measure three finger-widths below her navel and apply gentle but firm pressure with your fingertips. Press until you feel a firmness or mass. Maintain gentle but constant pressure for about three minutes.
- If you feed your baby formula, ask her doctor about switching to a different brand. Some babies are less constipated on soy formula. And sometimes adding a teaspoon of Karo corn syrup to the formula also does the trick.
- Switch from rice cereal to barley or oat cereal, or add pureed fruits or vegetables to her regular cereal, once your baby is ready for them. Read about what foods to introduce when. Once your baby is eating a variety of solid foods, ask her doctor if you can boost her fiber intake by adding a teaspoon of bran to her cereal.
- Cut down on constipating foods like rice, bananas, and cooked carrots, and try mixing her cereal with a little bit of apple or prune juice or a few tablespoons of pureed prunes, apricots, or pears to help loosen her bowel movements. Increase the amount of fluid your baby drinks to help keep her stools soft.
- If your baby is older than 2 months, start by giving her 1 ounce of prune juice diluted with 1 ounce of water, twice a day. As her constipation improves, you can cut back. Talk with the doctor first if your baby is 2 months old or younger.
Talk to your baby’s doctor about treatment options. Ask about using an over-the-counter stool softener to make bowel movements more comfortable for your baby, but never give your baby a laxative without her doctor’s approval. The doctor may also suggest you try a glycerin suppository if your baby is severely constipated. The suppository will stimulate the rectum and help her pass a stool. While using a suppository occasionally is fine, don’t do it on a regular basis, since your baby could wind up relying on them to have a bowel movement.
If your baby is passing such hard, dry stools that she tears the delicate skin near the opening of her anus (you may be able to see these tears, known as anal fissures, or a little blood), you can apply some aloe vera lotion to the area to help it heal. Be sure to mention the tears to your baby’s doctor.
Ultimately a diet with a “rainbow” of colors that’s high in fiber along with water and occasional juice should keep this from happening… But to my new mommies… it’s normal, and just a part of baby growing up. 🙂