Sign up for our Holiday Events!

“Get That Poo Out of You!” – Part 1

Home Hacks for Children with Constipation

“Mommmyyyy,” I hear coming from the bathroom, “come look at this! It’s huge!” Once again, it’s my then three-year-old calling me to come look at his most recent bowel movement. Rather than beaming with pride as he was, I was concerned that my child was having so much trouble going to the bathroom, and that when he did, it was large, hard, and only came after many tears because he knew that it was going to hurt.

This story is not unique to my household. The vicious cycle of constipation is rearing its head in an increasing number of families across our nation, and the causes are not hard to find. Children’s diets are consisting of less and less gut-healthy foods. Instead of reaching for a water bottle, many of our children reach out for juice, chocolate milk, or soda. Rigid school schedules dictate when kiddos are allowed to use the restroom, and very little physical activity and recess remains part of a kid’s day. It also turns out that kids would prefer not to go number two in a stall right next to their classmates in a busy lunchtime bathroom. For the typical American child, we have created a perfect storm for chronic potty problems.

A simple Google search will reveal a host of recommendations, from homeopathic remedies to pharmaceutical treatments, but one of the most important factors is looking at how your child sits on the potty.  Using proper potty posture allows the pelvic floor muscles to relax and the colon and rectum to be in the optimal position for poo to exit.

  1. Feet should be flat on floor or potty stool. This allows our trunk and core muscles to focus on expelling poo, rather than having to help us balance on the potty.
  2. Knees should be higher than the hips. They do not need to be bent all the way up to your chest, but 30-40 degrees of hip flexion will create the straightest path for poo to come out (allows surrounding muscles and ligaments to become lax).
  3. Keep a straight back, lean forward and place elbows on thighs. This gives another point of support for the trunk and core during a bowel movement.
  4. Happy pooing!

– Recommendations from APT Physical Therapist, ​Lauren Hirsch, PT, DPT