Painful Constipation Is Common
As a mom of four young children and as a pediatrician and pediatric emergency medicine doctor, I see a lot of constipation. If I look at the most common complaints in the office and emergency room, trouble with bowel movement is in the top five.
Some parents don’t know their child is constipated. Parents commonly notice their kids have belly pain, practice potty refusal, or experience painful or bloody stools. Constipation can cause many challenges for kids who feel uncomfortable and sometimes can’t even eat or sleep well.
Management of childhood constipation can be a big challenge because people don’t like talking about poo, and many parents aren’t aware of bowel movement challenges. Pooing is something we do in private, and parents may not pay attention to how often their child poos or the bowel movement consistency. If we don’t know that our child has a problem or how they differ from the norm, we certainly can’t fix it.
Constipation can be embarrassing and awkward for parents and kids alike. In many instances, kids have been battling constipation for months before parents bring it to my attention. The challenge is the more prolonged constipation goes on, the more difficult and time-consuming it can be to treat. In addition, chronic constipation can lead to pelvic floor dysfunction. In short, the quicker we get to treating a child’s constipation, the faster it will be to resolve.
In my office exam rooms, I have fifteen handouts for patient education. When I have conversations with parents, such as if their child has a chronic cough or dry skin or whether they’re working on starting solid food or sleep training, I go to my cupboard and pull out a handout. The very first handout in the front of every cupboard is a handout about constipation. I pull it out at least ten times a day, every single day. And my colleagues do the same. It is a prevalent problem.
If you want to see the handout for yourself to help your child (or you) with constipation, click the image below.
It is always best to review your health condition with your healthcare provider. They can provide medical advice on your particular problem.
I bet you don’t know that sitting up on the throne in the standard body position is possibly the worst position to be in to poo with efficiency and ease. Sitting with our backs up straight and our legs hanging down is not the proper anatomic position to poo in. In many areas of the world, it’s normal to squat or even stand in the washroom.
When you’re squatting or standing, there is no kinking of the anal–rectal angle or the area that carries your poop to your anus. If you’re squatting or standing, the angle is ideal, and pooing should be relatively effortless.
We have gotten used to sitting to poo, but the transition for kids to go from standing, lying, or squatting to poo can be pretty tricky for them. If your child cannot poo easily, as they no longer have the crutch of the diaper and their preferred positions, the poop sits there for longer, gets drier, and sometimes hurts them to go. If it hurts them to poo and they have a terrible experience, they can hold it longer. Then the poo gets harder, hurts more, and the cycle repeats itself. This can prevent complete evacuation and other unpleasantness like lower urinary tract symptoms.
Because the position we sit in on the toilet is silly, and we want our kids to learn in the easiest way possible, I recommend that you have something that your child can put their feet up on so they are in a squatting position. You can position their feet on books, yoga blocks, or anything that brings their knees closer to their chest. If their knees are closer to their body, they will have less kinking in that anal–rectal area. As a result, they will be much more likely to have easy success.
Bowel Movement Trouble? Enter the Original Toilet Stool
If you want to consider adding a commercial stool to your bathroom, the Squatty Potty stool can help. Similar items can be found online to mimic the squat position and prevent straining and undue pressure on the bowels.
The Squatty Potty is doctor recommended and helps mimic a natural squat to align the colon properly. A subtle slope from back to front raises your heels off the ground, giving them just the right angle. The soft textured grip of the Squatty Potty keeps your feet in place to easily maintain the best position. This can help bowel movements come out more efficiently to prevent straining, increased colon pressure, and damage to the rectum.
The Squatty Potty is the original toilet stool and allows for a more complete and easier time pooing. It’s great if you already suffer from constipation and is helpful for preventative care too. The Squatty Potty’s claims are backed up by lots of research and is doctor recommended.
When using the Squatty Potty, you sit on the toilet as usual, and the Squatty Potty is in front of the toilet. Then, you place your feet up on the Squatty Potty to mimic a natural squat.
Then, press your abdomen to your thighs or thighs to your abdomen, as this will help minimize the kink to allow bowel movements to pass more quickly.
Prevent Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
The Squatty Potty is proven to improve colon health and help improve symptoms of painful constipation, hemorrhoids, abdominal pain, infrequent bowel movements, and bloating. In addition, you and your child will experience a more complete elimination, and you won’t have to sit as long to empty.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the best position to get rid of painful constipation?
The best way to empty the bowels fully is to be in the squat position instead of sitting on the toilet with your back up and legs hanging down.
Why does bringing the knees up to help you poo?
The standard sitting position is not ideal. Sitting on the toilet with the legs hanging can put undue pressure on the rectum and is not ideal for your bowel health. Squatting decreases pressure on the rectum and is helpful to prevent straining while pooping. In addition, the squat position unkinks and relaxes the puborectalis muscle, allowing the colon to empty quickly and thoroughly. The Squatty Potty puts you in this squat position and can be very helpful.
How can I get my child in the best position to poo?
You can use a commercial product like the Squatty Potty or place books or pillows underneath your child’s feet while they are on the toilet. This position on the Squatty Potty brings the thighs closer to the abdomen to unkink the puborectalis muscle.
Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.