I get this question all of the time. It’s scary when your kid stops pooping because it can lead to pain, holding, impaction, loss of motility, reabsorption of toxins and megacolon. Once a child starts to experience pain with pooping, it doesn’t take long for them to avoid further pain by “holding”. I’ve read all sorts of papers and articles about holding and the ‘experts’ will often proclaim it to be a behavioral issue. I agree with this to a point – it’s behavioral in the way that they are AVOIDING PAIN. They are not trying to manipulate you or make you angry. Their bodies are telling you that something is out of balance.
Here’s a quick primer on poops. And because I’ve been talking about poop for well over a decade now, you should be forewarned that I hold nothing back (ha, ha – get it?). Poop is the window to the gut. You can’t have problems with your poop and not have problems with your gut. And you can’t have problems with your gut and not have problems with other areas in your body, particularly your brain. It’s all magically connected. I wrote a blog on how a healthy digestive system is supposed to work and you can learn more about the WHY the digestive system is important to overall health. In this blog, we’re focusing on how to get things moving.
At the very least, a healthy body excretes waste via bowel movements once a day. At the VERY least. Ideally, a body eliminates waste 2-3 times a day. In addition to assessing the quantity of poops, you should also be aware of the quality of poops. The Bristol Poop chart is well accepted as far as providing guidance on quality – not too hard and not too watery. If you or your child suffer from constipation, take some time right now to assess exactly where your current “normal” is. This is your baseline so you can measure how much progress you make in remedying the constipation.
And someone at this point is saying to themselves: But my doctor said it’s OK for my kid to not poop every day. To which my reply is – they are misinformed.
Our bodies are like machines. They need energy and fuel to work. When they work and burn energy, they create exhaust/waste. Not just from the fuel put in but at the cellular level parts that work and create metabolic waste. There are several organs and systems that function to expel waste from our bodies: the liver, the kidneys, the lungs, the skin and the gastrointestinal system. Some waste products are particular to certain organ or system. When some routes aren’t working well, the other organs get over-burdened. Our bodies are high-performance machines. When the digestive system gets back up, the rest of the organs and systems start to suffer as a result.
Here are some options to help move things along WHILE YOU ARE WORKING ON THE ROOT CAUSE OF THE CONSTIPATION. This is so important. You will find a list here of things that will help move the bowels but they are not a cure for constipation – they are merely band-aids. Healing the gut is a process that can take several months if not years depending on what is going on. My son suffered from chronic constipation for years until I finally cured it with 18 months on the GAPS Diet. My only regret is that I didn’t do the intense gut healing diet much earlier.
Also, it must be said – I am not a doctor and any guidance or advice about supplements and products should be discussed with your practitioner. The items listed here are for informational purposes and should not be construed as diagnostic or treatment advice 😊
- Chiropractic Care. This has amazing potential for resolving constipation and getting things moving. Added bonus, your chiropractor can help you with your supplement protocol!
- Physical Exercise. The body NEEDS to move. Gross motor (large muscle) movement helps with gut motility. It also helps move lymph with collects metabolic waste in the body.
- Abdominal massage. This can help stimulate digestive juices from the liver/gall bladder and it can also stimulate bowel movements. QiGong massage in particular is very helpful.
- “Bicycle” exercise. This is where a child lays on their back and then moves their legs in the air as if they are peddling a bicycle. If a child is unable to do that on their own, you simply move their legs for them.
- Pooping Posture. The nature posture is a squat, not a sit. This means that you need to use a foot stool or Squatty Potty to bring the knees up above the hip line when pooping. The advantages of this position are many: It empties the bowel more completely, it requires little to no pushing, the bum is easier to clean/wipe.
- Enemas or colonics.
- You can’t have beautiful poops with crappy food. Highly processed foods clog the system. At the very least, being gluten free and casein (dairy) free should be trialed when dealing with constipation. Corn, soy and other grains are very difficult to digest so they should also be considered for removal.
- Magnesium Citrate. The reason Mag Citrate works is because it isn’t absorbed well by the body. It has a downside when it comes to ceruloplasmin levels so use this form only for moving the bowels. If you are wishing to supplement your body with magnesium, choose another form. Oxypowder is a particular type of Magnesium that can be very effective for getting the bowels moving.
- The colon requires hydration. Water, water, water.
- Vitamin C. The citrate form will help move things along however just like with the magnesium, it is not an ideal form of vitamin c for the body so use with discretion.
- Aloe Vera Juice. I like George’s brand as it is colorless, odorless and mostly tasteless. It’s very easy to add to a drink.
- Prunes or prune juice.
- Digestive Bitters.
- Digestive Enzymes.
- Fermented foods like sauerkraut or just some brine (juice) from a fermented veggie.
- Oils – olive oil, castor oil, cod liver oil.
Our kids pick up on our energy so it’s very important that we not get too tightly wound around the poop. Hard to do, I know. I have years of calendars where I documented the poop – the quantity and the quality. There were many days spent waiting for the poop rather than go somewhere and risk having the urge but not being close to home (and then subsequently having to wait another few days for the poop urge to come back).
Depending on your child, you may be able to encourage pooping through rewards or excited encouragement. In my personal experience I found that not making a big deal out of it (pooping or not pooping) was what my kid needed. You want to poop? Great – go to it. You don’t want to poop? Great – it’s up to you. The more uptight I got about the poops, the less often they came. When I surrendered the responsibility back to my son, the poops came more often.
It’s also possible that the child is having a difficult time understanding the entire process and is not understanding what is expected. Sensory wise, pooping is kind of a nightmare when you think about it: physical sensations, pain, wiping, plopping in the water, sitting on a bowl of water, sound of the flush, the sight of the poop, the smell of the poop, what happens to the poop after it’s flushed?!?!?!, why is everyone so interested in my poop????? There are lots of DVDs that can help. We used Potty Power and I recommend this dvd quite a bit to those trying to potty train their kids.
Resolving constipation requires a multi-prong approach:
Keeping the bowels moving
And finally, two things that I absolutely AVOID for constipation: Miralax and Mineral Oil. Miralax is actually toxic to the body and the brain and Mineral Oil is a petroleum based product. We are machines but not THAT type of machine!