Written on 16 August 2018
If your baby is straining to do a poo, it doesn't necessarily mean that she's constipated. Before long, you'll recognise your baby's particular grimaces and grunts as she works on her bowel movements. You’ll also become very familiar with what looks normal (or not) in your baby’s nappy.
How can I tell if my baby is constipated?
When it comes to a baby’s bowel movements, there is often no normal number or schedule. Similar to adults, babies’ bowel movement patterns vary. Poo can also change in texture from day to day.
If you’re concerned that your baby may be constipated, look out for these signs:
As odd as it sounds, very liquid poo can be also be sign of constipation. Liquid poo can slip past the blockage of hard poo in the lower intestine. If you see this, don't assume it's diarrhea. It may be evidence of constipation.
What causes constipation?
There are several possible reasons why your baby may be constipated:
Very rarely, constipation in babies can be caused by congenital conditions. These can include a disease where the large intestine doesn’t function properly (Hirschsprung's disease), a condition where the anus and rectum have not formed properly (anorectal malformation), spina bifida and cystic fibrosis.
How can I treat constipation?
Check with your doctor or health visitor before trying anything to ease your baby's discomfort. You may be asked to bring her in to be examined. Here are some home treatments that your doctor may suggest:
If these home treatments have not worked, or if your baby’s constipation is severe, your doctor may suggest a laxative, such as macrogol or lactulose.
Try not to worry too much if your baby becomes constipated. It's likely to happen now and then, especially if she is formula-fed or eating solids. With your attention, necessary treatment, and time, she'll soon establish easier, regular bowel movements again.
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