Here’s the scenario. Your child is constantly irritable. They complain of belly aches. They may be having messy toileting accidents. You feel awful as a mommy for not being able to resolve it for them. Not to mention, it’s resulting in a lot more time-consuming messes and laundry chores.
So, what’s the problem? They haven’t had a bowel movement in days, possibly a week or more.
I’ve been there so many times with my eldest daughter. Fed up with common mommy solutions like prune juice failing, you finally drag the poor child to their pediatrician, hoping they will have some miracle solution to end the exhausting cycle. They do, but their answer is Miralax, a laxative.
What’s so bad about Miralax?
One of the first things I noticed on the back of the bottle, was the disturbing warning stating that the product was not to be used on children under the age of 17, and only then it was to be used for occasional constipation. Yet doctors seem to think it’s as safe as water, and recommend it for long-term use without hesitation.
Propylene glycol–otherwise known as anti-freeze–is the ingredient on the label that causes me the most concern. As a more naturally-minded parent, I cringe at the thought of filling my child with the same anti-caking substance we put in our car. How can that be safe?
What causes constipation?
There are several answers to this question, with one of the most common being diet. A child needs to be obtaining the right amount of fiber from their diet. As parents know, children vary among levels of pickiness, with the most extreme only eating french fries and popsicles, or something along those lines. That makes it extremely difficult to get their fiber in.
The other thing to remember about fiber intake is that not all fibers are created equal. There are two categories–soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fibers are found in foods like nuts, seeds & beans. These foods can further inhibit successful bowel movements, because of the way this type of fiber attracts water. The foods then turn to a gel-like substance and slow digestion. On the other hand, insoluble fiber sources like most vegetables and whole grains, improve digestion by bulking the stool up.
Illness and Change
When your child has been sick or is undergoing transition in their life, these circumstances can also contribute to bouts of constipation. When my daughter started kindergarten, for example, it was nearly a month before we could get her back on track again.
Another big one for us is the issue of withholding. When a child has become accustomed to experiencing pain with pooping, they are not likely to want to experience it ever again. The lack of logic in that escapes them. Avoiding the pain is their game, and it only causes the problem to expand.
There are many; and you are probably going to have to go through a bit of a trial-and-error process to find your individual child’s solution. I would start with adjusting the child’s diet.
Increase their intake of insoluble fibers. If you don’t see any improvement after a few days, you may want to try the popular route of going dairy-free. Personally, we did see some improvements with this change.
There are also many different supplements that some moms have reported as working wonders for their children’s constipation woes. Regular Girl is one of those. This is a powdered mixture comprised of prebiotic fiber and probiotics. You can purchase it on here.
Some of the many natural laxatives that are commonly referred to in health articles include aloe vera juice, castor oil and magnesium citrate. Magnesium is a vitamin that is commonly lacking in those suffering from constipation, so I would definitely try supplementing with that.
Withholding & Encopresis
It’s quite common for kids with long histories of constipation to begin to fear going number two, to the point that they avoid it at all costs. This was one of the most frustrating aspects for us with our daughter, since it creates a never-ending cycle.
The behavior also leads to encopresis and constant messy accidents. Fortunately, once you have found a successful solution to the constipation, there are ways to help your child retrain their bowels.
There is hope
When you’re in the middle of the struggle, I know from experience that it can be all-consuming. It may seem like it shall never pass, but with time it will all be a distant memory. Life will go back to normal and it will be on to the next challenge.
Try some of these solutions and avoid a daily Miralax dosage. Someday there may be a study that determines there are long-term effects from its usage, and you will be thankful that you followed your own path.