Easy Tips for Managing Constipation

So, guess what y’all? I’m not even 10 posts in yet and I’m already talking about poop! It’s about to get real around here, but I know you can handle it because you are a mom.

So. Healthy little people tend to have really regular bowels. Unfortunately kids with medical challenges can have constipation problems because of medication or inactivity. Here are some simple strategies for relief:

  • Fiber consumption: Bulking, high fiber foods are easier on the intestines. Fruits (fresh & dried), vegetables, beans, air-popped popcorn, nuts, flax seed are all great choices. Prepare these foods for the entire family.
  • Water consumption: Your body needs water to soften stools and help pass waste. Even if you choose to use a constipation medication (see below), it is important to drink plenty of water. Most constipation meds act by helping to pull water into the colon, so their effectiveness is reduced when you are dehydrated.
  • Massage: Belly massage is a wonderful tool to help children with constipation. This is my secret weapon! It’s great to use in conjunction with foods/medications that soften the stool because massage helps increase peristalsis (motion of the intestines) and move stool along. As a matter of fact I call this massage technique “scooping the poop” with my kids which they think is hilarious. Have your child lie on their bed and lift up their shirt half way. Apply a little bit of natural oil to their stomach (such as almond, coconut, olive or sunflower oil). Looking at their tummy like the face of a clock you will always work clockwise when massaging. First we start on the child’s left side (your right) place your hands just under the ribs and swoop down towards the hip with firm pressure. Repeat several times. This is called “unloading the ferry”. You always unload the cars in the front first! The stool at the end of the colon needs to be moved first. Next swoop from directly under the child’s right ribs across to under the left ribs then down towards the left hip. Repeat several times. Last start a the child’s right hip, swoop up to the child’s right ribs, over to the left ribs and then down to the left hip. Repeat several times. This technique also works very well for gas discomfort. Need to see it? Watch and learn friends!
  • Exercise: The action of walking helps increase peristalsis (gut motion/digestion) as the heels strike the ground. If your child is able, encourage them to walk and even run as much as possible.
  • Squatty Potty: Yeah, it’s for real. Positioning your legs in a squat position during bowel movements can help kids (and grown ups) out. So this company made a special stool that fits around the base of your toilet. Or you can try putting a step stool in front of the toilet so your child can put their feet up.
  • Pharmaceuticals: If your child needs more help, there are a few drugs that can work to soften stool. Miralax (Polyethylene glycol) is probably the most commonly prescribed to kids. It is truly a mira-cle because you can mix it in anything. I’ve tried it in plain water and it is pretty much undetectable. Another common one is Colace (docusate).
  • Natural Supplements: If you want to try a stool softener that is naturally derived there are several powdered fiber options such as BeneFiber (derived from wheat dextrin). Psyllium husk powder is another option. Other common herbal remedies are Senna powder and Aloe juice.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Everybody’s treatment plan is different and you should talk to your doctor about all medications, supplements, diet changes and activity before beginning.

photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc

About Emily

Hi, my name is Emily. I’m a wife, mother, christian, momcologist, doula, writer, nerd, entrepreneur and dreamer. I like Apple products, chocolate, books, lists, being pregnant and the color purple. I fancy myself as a quirky combination of dreamy Anne Shirley and feisty Scarlett O’Hara but in a schizophrenic sort of way. Read on...

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