Sunday, October 17, 2010

Poo Ordeals - Mommy's Journey in Solving Baby's Constipation

Kenan has been having constipation since end of August. On various occasions, it was so bad that there's blood in the stools (as they were hard and pebble-like) and the poor boy would be crying in pain.

We have brought him to the pediatrician twice and was prescribed lactulose and suppository but the problem persisted. The last time we took him to see a doctor was also the worst bout of constipation the little boy had experienced.

It was on a Sunday night when my hubby was out of town. Kenan was pushing so hard but the stool was stuck at the anus - it could neither come out nor go back in. The poor boy was in so much pain and cried so terribly that I ended up crying too. Thank God for my helper, who really loves Kenan. She told me to calm down and then we rushed him to the 24-hour clinic at Thomson Medical Centre. The little boy was so exhausted from the crying that he slept all the way during the 20 minutes cab ride and only woke up when the nurse inserted the suppository, which was probably another hour from the time we arrived at the hospital.

We were told by the PD and GP that constipation in babies can be a sticky problem. But I hate to see my baby suffer so much and believe there must be a way out.

So off to my favourite forum I went to get some advice from fellow mommies.

Solutions that worked

I was told to keep bananas and apples away as they are known to cause constipation. In my boy's case, I observed that banana does seem to aggravate his condition. I was also advised to give fruits starting with 'P' - pears, prunes, plums, peaches, papaya. Oh, peas as well, though it's not a fruit.

Papaya was very effective for Kenan and I used to give him lots of it. But I began noticing that his skin seems to have taken on a yellow tinge, which is likely due to consuming too much papaya and other orange-coloured fruits and veggies like pumpkin and carrot. So I decided to limit the intake of these.

And while I used to be quite relaxed about how much water Kenan drinks, I would now make a conscious effort to give him water regularly, even if it's just two, three spoonfuls. And boy, it can be a real chore just to let him take that bit of water. Because he doesn't know how to drink from sippy cup and would choke; he can use the Pigeon magmag cup but often ends up chewing the straw rather than sucking it. In the end, what works are syringe (yes, there's no typo error here!) and spoon.

Besides water, juices can be effective too. One mommy said her PD told her to give prune juice, the Del Monte brand (no sugar added), and I did that. It worked for Kenan. My PD also mentioned apple juice, but somehow, my boy didn't quite like it.

I also made barley water, which Chinese believe is 'cooling' and can aid bowel movement ('heatiness' can cause constipation, and many believe that formula milk is 'heaty'). One mommy who is knowledgeable about TCM advised me not to boil the barley for too or it will become 'heaty'.

Food wise, by some trial and error, I found spinach, peas and avocado really helpful. I buy organic baby spinach from NTUC Xtra and use it for making porridge. I also put peas in; I buy frozen peas that come in one big pack.

Taylor organic baby spinach, $6.30 per box (5oz/142g), from NTUC Xtra

As for avocado, I either give it as fruit for breakfast, or put it in the cereal and Kenan loves its creamy texture.

In addition, I also gave lots of Gerber's prune (I suppose any other brand's fine too). I didn't puree fresh ones because I found it a hassle to remove the skin (without resorting to using a knief).

With all these efforts, Kenan's condition has certainly improved.  I don't give him lactulose on a daily basis anymore and we have not used the suppository on him for a while now. He poos about once every other day now and I'm satisfied with this.

Honestly, I wish I know what caused the constipation. He never had problems when he was on total breastfeeding. In fact, he pooed watery stools everyday. Even after he started weaning, the first month or so was fine. He was taking cereals mixed with formula milk (I'm too lazy to pump) and I latch him four times a day. The problem only started when I began introducing porridge and oat cereals. I'm not sure which of this two is the culprit, or if they might even be the culprit to begin with.

Whatever it is, throughout this journey, the moral support I received from the forum mommies and their many useful tips and advice, have really helped and encouraged me. I really can't imagine what I would have done without them. Thank you, forum mommies!


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