… or the lack thereof.
For a few months, we’ve kept a close watch on my son’s “regularity,” discovering that if he goes more than not-quite-48-hours without doing the deed, he needs our help (in the form of Pedialax glycerine suppositories as recommended by our pediatrician).
I know some babies can go much longer without a bowel movement, and I know it’s normal to go more than a day, and I know that sometimes, he does eventually work it out on his own. I also know that formula-fed babies are more prone to issues, but that all babies have some trouble once they start eating solid foods. It’s a normal thing.
But once assured by our pediatrician that we aren’t doing him any damage by regularly helping him out with regularity – we aren’t depriving him of some critical physical learning opportunity or anything – we have decided not to let him suffer through it. Note: true constipation relates to the characteristics of the stuff, not the frequency. If he hasn’t gone in a day and a half, we help the dude out despite hearing from people that we’re being too sensitive about it all.
And then, the other day, I read this on Slate about the link between constipation and bed-wetting:
Turns out, everyone involved in Zoe’s case had it wrong. Zoe was fully potty trained, but she had no chance of staying dry because her entire colon was stuffed with poop, including a mass in her rectum the size of a Nerf basketball. This mass, visible in an X-ray I requested, was pressing against Zoe’s bladder and had caused the nerves feeding her bladder to go haywire. Constipation wasn’t “contributing” to Zoe’s urinary symptoms; it was the main cause.
Accidents and bed-wetting have the same root cause: chronically holding poop or pee or both. A rectal poop mass squishes the bladder and messes with its nerves; holding pee thickens the bladder wall, shrinking the bladder’s capacity to hold urine and triggering hiccuplike contractions. The upshot: wet undies and bed sheets.
Poor Zoe. Children can poop regularly and still not expel everything. Their bodies can adjust to this by swelling to accommodate the excess, but there are negative physical impacts even if they don’t feel discomfort.
Please go read the full article. It’s sad, yes, and covers a topic most people aren’t fond of discussing (with the exception of baby parents, for whom it is a constant source of amazement and conversation), but it could save your kid some drama later.
In the meantime, I’ve restocked my supply of Pedialax and feel validated that we’re not being overly cautious in helping the dude do his thing sometimes.