Guest post by Theresa Albert
Nutritionists love to talk about poo. Its size, shape, frequency and texture are all fascinating to us because they express so much about the food that went in and the health of the system that is supposed to be utilizing it. So it pains a nutritionist and parents, when a child won’t, or has trouble, going number two. We know how uncomfortable it can be, and yet important.
The scoop on poop
So what is constipation and what causes it? Naturopathic doctor, Jane Shou, ND, who practices at the Rosedale Wellness Centre in Toronto says: “By definition a child who is used to regular bowel movements who goes two or more days without a bowel movement, or has pain or difficulty passing hard stool is constipated. The most common cause is insufficient fluids and/or too little fibre.” Sounds simple enough but there are other constipationcauses worth considering:
- emotional stress (moving to a new location, or change in routine)
- too much emphasis on toilet training
- changes in diet or the introduction of new foods
- too much fat in diet
- lack of exercise
- holding stool for various reasons such as being too active to take the time to have a bowel movement which can lead to reluctance in passing firmer stool due to the association of pain
- using a medication that may be constipating
During short bouts of constipation, food isn’t used well, bloating or cramping is uncomfortable and fatigue can set in. After a few weeks, minor nutritional deficiencies can be present. Over the long term, chronic constipation can lead to a loss of muscle tone in the bowel, leading to a lifelong problem. In severe cases, rectal fissures (painful microscopic tears in the rectum) can result. Because the bowel presses on the bladder, children who suffer from constipation may also experience bedwetting.
A professional should conduct a very thorough review of past or current issues relating to digestive function and other factors, such as patterns with diet, sleep, stress, energy, demeanour, and other current health concerns. The idea is to find the root cause of the issue and treat from that standpoint and to allow the body to heal and grow stronger for a long term resolution and to prevent future issues.
Try these simple at home remedies:
- Gradually increase the amount of fibre and fluid in your child’s diet.
- Provide water, herbal teas, and clear soups before every meal.
- Serve warm water with 1/4 squeezed lemon, first thing in the morning.
- Probiotics are fabulous for helping establish healthy gut flora, try yogurt that is free of flavourings, colours or gums such as gelatin.
- Serve hot cereals such as oatmeal each day.
- Epsom salts baths, being high in magnesium, can increase circulation to the lower abdomen. Magnesium supplements can soften stool and help relax muscles
- Massage lower abdomen to stimulate circulation and movement. Start on the lower right corner and move upwards towards the ribs, and then over to the left, and then down towards the pelvis on the left side of the abdomen
- Encourage physical activity and awareness of responding promptly to bowel needs. If a young child indicates an urge, respond promptly and take him/her to the bathroom.
The single most important thing to do in preventing or treating constipation is to use whole foods right from the first foods stage and avoid highly processed and packaged foods. If you are already in the toilet on this, so to speak, it’s not too late to find relief from constipation… start eating healthier now. Implement as many of the techniques listed as possible and prevent a lifelong struggle with digestion.
About the Author:
Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com
There are often discussions about what NOT to say to parents about their children with autism. I wrote about it myself – how some innocent questions and comments can actually be painful for a mama raising a child with autism. Although well meaning, some comments have the opposite of the intended effect.
But please say something. Saying nothing can almost be worse. Someone recently asked me: what CAN someone say that is considered kind and helpful? That simple question stopped me in my tracks. Just asking it was a huge first step. I had a few simple suggestions that would go a long way with sensitive mamas. I’ve listed them below.
1) Ask the mother if there are any resources or books you can read to learn more about autism. That tells her you are interested in, and care about her child.
2) Ask the mother if a play date would be helpful and that you would be happy to host. Our guys need social interaction and an opportunity to practice their social skills. Sadly, they are often the last ones to get invited on a play date. Offering to host tells a mom that you’re not afraid of her child and that you are open to fostering a friendship between the child with autism and her own child. Feel free to step it up and make sure to invite the child to your kiddo’s birthday party. Those invitations can be rare occurrences as well.
3) Compliment her child. Mamas with kids on spectrum seem to only hear the negative stuff. Many dread what they’re going to read in the school agenda and worry that every time the phone rings it will be the school reporting yet another “incident”. Like every mother, we want to hear that our kids are awesome and it’s nice for someone to notice. It doesn’t have to be anything big. Here are some examples:
“I noticed your son’s language is really coming along.”
“Your daughter was really kind to my child today.”
“I was volunteering in the class today and noticed your son sat really well in circle!”
These are just a few simple suggestions that will make a tremendous difference in the life of moms of children with autism. Don’t be afraid to talk to us. We’re moms just like you, and like all moms, we love to talk about our kids – even the ones with autism.
About the Author:
Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.
“It’s okay, it’s the second one.”
I heard this from my SIL the other day. I have heard it from my parents in relation to me. I have heard it from friends. You ‘care less’ about the second child. Now, I’m not saying that in the literal sense you ‘care less’ – but I think you parents know what I mean when I say second child syndrome. The first child was the learning experience; you learned how to hold them, feed them, and burp them. You mastered the one-handed diaper change. You learned that if they fall, they will get back up. You learned that you don’t need to worry that you might fail at some things – because it’s inevitable that you will. You learned that you could and did adapt to being a new parent. So, once the second one came around, you were a Pro.
My brother’s second child and my newest nephew joined our family just before Christmas last year. For almost 4 years, his brother was the only baby in our family and we didn’t think we could love another more. Then, the second one arrived and I was smitten. There’s just something about him that I have instantly fallen in love with. It’s almost like there’s an unspoken bond between us. I’m the baby of the family; the black sheep – and I think I see that in him. As the youngest, we must stick together.
I was pondering my instant affection for him the other day, and realized that when his older brother was born I had to learn how to be an Aunt. I too had to learn how to hold, feed and burp him. I had to learn how to be a friend and role model to an easily influenced little human. I quickly got comfortable with talking in a kid-friendly voice, helping him put on his shoes and being stern with him when required. Perhaps I do in fact have a special bond with the second one, or perhaps this time around as an Aunt I’m just more comfortable and have become a Pro too.
Did you feel differently towards your second child?
About the Author:
Diane Morris is a PANK; Professional Aunt, No Kids and works for Mabel’s Labels as the Sales Coordinator. She’s an Aunt to two boys, and an “Auntie” to her boyfriend’s niece and nephew. She’s a sucker for romance, country music and peanut butter.