One of the things that happens when you become a parent is that you suddenly find yourself talking about shit… a lot. Never do you talk more about crap than when you have a small child. You find yourself marvelling at just how much can come out of such a small being, wondering if it’s the right colour, the right consistency. And that’s all after the first “what the hell is that?!” poo…
Ever since Amelia was small she’s had issues with her bowels. More specifically, she’s had issues with withholding her poo. I noticed quite early on that she would go days sometimes without going, and when she did go it would be huge, and seemed to be quite difficult for her. Naturally we took her to the doctor and she was prescribed Lactulose, a sticky, syrupy concoction designed to help combat chronic constipation by softening all the poo that’s in there waiting to come out.
You Shit What You Eat
I felt nervous about the sugar content of Lactulose and took her back to the doctor. I just didn’t feel confident that so much sugar was going to help the situation long term, and certainly didn’t want her to be taking a medicine for a prolonged period of time that is so sugary. At this point I was basically interrogated by the doctor about Amelia’s diet, and when I gave him a snapshot of her daily food intake he all but said he didn’t believe me.
I’ve always been very lucky with my kids; they pretty much eat whatever I give them, and both love fruit and vegetables. They get plenty of fibre, we only eat wholemeal carbs, and I try to make sure that every meal is sensibly balanced. The doctor agreed to prescribe her Paediatric Movicol, which she has been taking every day since before she was 1.
I wasn’t given much to go on, just “start with half a sachet a day and build up from there as she needs it. No more than 4 sachets a day.” Knowing when she needed more medicine was hard. It would take for her to have a ‘bad poo’ for us to know. She crapped regularly, daily in fact. But every now and then she would have an episode which usually resulted in me kneeling on the bathroom floor having to coach her through a shit. There have been several times I’ve felt like I’m helping her give birth.
“Come on baby, you can do it, just keep pushing. Let’s get it out, keep going, you’re doing a great job.”
Then there was the day we had to rush her from nursery straight to A&E. She was showing signs of a ‘bad poo’ and when I took her into the bathroom she screamed like I’d never heard her scream. She managed to push out a log of epic proportions, but before my eyes I watched the damn thing break in half under its own weight and the other half disappear back where it came from, leaving behind a trail of blood that trickled out of her bottom.
1 in 5 Suffer With Chronic Constipation
The doctor we saw at the hospital told us that 1 in 5 children experience this kind of constipation, and that usually it rectifies itself by the time the child toilet trains, and at least by the time they turn 5.
1 in 5; that’s a lot of kids! Why does no-one talk about this?! I couldn’t believe that it was so common, and it wasn’t until I trained as an Early Years Practitioner and worked in a private nursery that I really believed the doctor. More and more often ‘Paediatric Movicol’ would crop up in children’s new starter forms and in their nursery bags.
Amelia’s issue didn’t go away when she toilet trained. We hoped it would, but she still had ‘bad poos’. We attempted to wean her off her (then) dose of 2 sachets a day, but she immediately stopped going altogether. Over the last 3-6 months, she’s dropped down to a sachet a day, and about a week or 2 before we moved (4 weeks ago in total) Mr C and I discussed attempting another total wean-off.
It’s Just A (Shit) Phase…
As I’m writing this, Amelia hasn’t had a dose of Movicol since her last day at nursery on the 19th July. She’s crapped like a trooper every single day, hasn’t had a single ‘bad poo’, and I now have a cupboard full of poo meds that I hope I’ll never have to use again! Just like that, it went away. We’ve had many conversations over the last 18 months wondering how on earth an issue like this can just go away, and thinking we were being fobbed off.
As it turns out, like most things kid related, it’s just a phase. Lots of children suffer with chronic constipation during the early years. Doctors don’t really know why, but usually it’s a combination of psychological (fear) and diet. In our case it was actually a bit of both. Despite knowing that Amelia’s diet is usually well balanced, we did notice as she got older that a ‘bad poo’ usually happened on the Monday after we spent a weekend with, for example, grandparents. Grandparents who tend to allow the kids to graze throughout the day, not eat their main meals, and usually have cupboards stocked with naughty treats.
Even Amelia knows now when it’s time to refuse another lollipop;
“No thanks, it might make me have a bad poo if I have more.”
As things go, I feel quite lucky that this shit is pretty much the worst we’ve had to deal with in 3 years!