Unfortunately, I hear that dreaded word from parents all too often – constipation. A lot of us might not realize there are varying degrees of constipation, and the typical quick fixes might not work for your baby. But what happens when nearly everything you try fails?
My daughter has had issues with constipation since she was about 6 months old. She was almost always irritable as a result of her discomfort. Sometimes she would even bleed a little. I will never forget the traumatizing experience of having to physically remove a piece of poo from her little bottom. I knew none of this was normal, so I put in a call to our pediatrician. His first suggestion was pear juice. When that didn’t work, he suggested prune juice. When that didn’t work, we tried adjusting her diet and taking out all the foods that could be making her constipated. This was all over a course of about six long months. When none of that was working, I thought maybe she had a milk allergy so I tried changing from whole milk to soy milk to almond milk. Still nothing.
Every time she had to poo, she would scream and cry from the pain. It was unbearable for all of us. Finally I took her back to the pediatrician and insisted that he try something more to help her. He told me to give her Pedialax, a stool softener for babies. It had a strong medicine taste, so we tried mixing it with all kinds of things but she would simply not take it unless we held her down and that was almost as traumatizing as the painful bowel movements were anyway.
So we were back at square one. I went to good old Dr. Google and after sifting through all the stuff I had already tried, found one mom that was using Miralax (polyethylene glycol 3350, powder for solution, osmotic laxative). I was leery since it’s for adults, but I called my pediatrician and got the okay to give it a try. Let me tell you, it has totally changed our lives. It’s completely tasteless, so we can just mix it right into her milk. Within two days she was having softer bowel movements that she was passing much more quickly. After about 3 months, we were able to cut her dose in half. We’ve also tried cutting it out altogether, but within a couple days, she goes right back to being constipated. According to our doctor, there are no issues with taking Miralax long term, and she may have to take it until she’s up to 5 years old.
Through this journey, I discovered something that made the process slightly easier for my daughter, even before the Miralax. It really helped when I put her on the toilet when she was trying to poo. If I held her just the right way – bottom hovering, leaning forward, knees at chest level – and rubbed her back in counter-clockwise circles, she was actually able to go. She would still cry, but she was actually able to go on her own. We found that not having a diaper pressed against her bottom and good old-fashioned gravity helped tremendously. The back rubbing was an old Indian wives’ tale from my husband’s grandmother, and it really seemed to seal the deal.
If I could go back in time, I would have started the Miralax about six months sooner. But like so many of us, I wanted to try every natural remedy I could before resorting to medicine. If your little one struggles in this department, I highly recommend starting with the toilet technique. This, in combination with diet adjustment or medication should make the process a lot easier for everyone (just think - no more poopy diapers!) and it will speed up your potty training process when the time comes. Whatever you do, don’t get too discouraged, this too shall pass (literally)!
Note: Please be sure to check with your pediatrician before trying Miralax or any type of medication.