Any other parents out there who's child is suffering from encopresis (withholding stools).

Geneviève - posted on 11/28/2011 ( 33 moms have responded )

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Need some advice. Getting at my wits end. My son complains of a sore tummy because he refuses to pooh, this has been going on for about a year. He's not constipated, he's just afraid to push! If you've been through the same thing with your child, please, need advice as of yesterday. Thanks in advance.

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Anita - posted on 11/29/2011

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We had the same problem with my daughter...it wasn't that she couldn't poop, she chose not to. We made a point of making sure she was eating high fiber, stool softening food and getting lots of fluids (cherry juice, some caffeinated pop, warm water with lemon and honey, water with benefibre/inulin). Basically trying to make it impossible for her to hold it in. We also found a book that helped: "It Hurts When I Poop!" by Howard J. Bennett, M.D. We used glycerin suppositories a couple times if she hadn't pooped for about 4 days...NOT fun, but it cleared her out. By keeping the poop soft, she eventually learned that it didn't hurt and finally things got back to normal. It took about five months of effort and she was between two and three years old. Also I would recommend talking to your doctor about other options for stool softeners if you need it in addition to diet changes. For us, everything seemed to take a really long time (She could drink half a cup of prune juice and still hold her poop for 2 days!). It was tremendously frustrating and it was terrible to see her suffering through it...I would not wish the experience on anyone. Good luck and be ready to exercise a LOT of patience!

Michelle - posted on 11/29/2011

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the best thing is to get his stools so loose he doesnt have to push, there are many healthy ways to do this, magnesium is one (check the dosage with your pharmasist or herbalist) you can get it is many forms other than tablets he wont be able to swallow but disguise it is drinks or other things, also you can get liquid Lactose, mix it in his drinks and voila. I went through this with my daughter to the point where she would rip having a bowel movement, most importantly I think is not to make a big deal about it, ignore the complaints (if your sure its nothing more) and liquidate him! haha, good luck

Megan - posted on 11/29/2011

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I agree with Kate. My son didn't want to push and would hold it in until he hurt or had an accident in his pants. The dr prescribed a 1/2 capful of miralax in 8oz of water a day for 2 weeks, then again after 2 weeks. We basically had to retrain his colon to recognize when he needed to go. I told him what it does and explained what to do so that it doesn't hurt to go potty. Now if he feels uncomfortable, he will tell me to get him some water with "the stuff".

Sylvia - posted on 05/09/2012

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We had this problem with my DD when she was about 2. One thing that helped, which we discovered totally by accident, was that being in a nice hot bath (not scary hot -- hot for a toddler) would relax the muscles or stimulate the gastro-colic reflex or something, I don't know, and often we'd end up interrupting the bath to sit on the potty.

Bananas bad; prunes (and prune juice, and other fruits beginning with P) good. No cheese not accompanied by lots of fibre. LOTS of fluids. Withholding stools isn't the same thing as constipation, but the one often leads to the other -- you're constipated, so pooping hurts, so you don't want to poop, so the poop gets bigger and harder, so when it finally comes out it hurts even more...

At a certain point the paediatrician recommended polyethylene glycol (PEG), which you mix up in a cup of hot cocoa or something and it acts as a very mild laxative and makes the stools soft so they hurt less when they come out. That was helpful. The main thing is to break the cycle -- and it's difficult, because it's partly physical and partly psychological.

[deleted account]

Daughter is almost 3 and has had issues since she was 18months. So wish I had nipped it in the butt (so to speak) from the very beginning.

I make sure she has a couple prunes everyday, I've found this to be the best dried fruit for her. No gluten or rice or anything clogging. Diet is mostly veggies and fruit. Sometimes if she gets some of daddy's corn chips it'll hurt when she goes and then we start all over with the holding.

I give suppositories that I make myself out of coconut oil so I don't have to worry about negative side effects from glycerin suppositories. We talk about how mommy and daddy go everyday, bears go everyday and elephants too! Of course none of these talks work as well as the coconut oil and prunes! If she's backed up I give her the bag of prunes and let her help herself, though I make them a *special* treat.

Hope your son is feeling better about it soon, it's no fun having a child in pain and cranky from needing to poop.

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Stephanie - posted on 06/20/2012

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Hi everyone, I just wanted to offer a few words of support. I dealt with it for 4 years with my daughter and I started a support blog for other moms, as I was able to find a natural solution when all the doctors just wanted was to give her laxatives.

First off, positive reinforcement is paramount!!! This is not their fault and it is hard enough as it is on them psycologically without parents negatively taking it out on them.

I highly suggest a chewable probiotic (and in our case a reduced gluten diet) and see if that helps. Gluten sensitivity or lactose sensitivity has a connection to chronic constipation and encopresis. Feel free to email me at sjoy1972@gmail. com or visit my blog "Backed up like rush hour traffic: A mom's guide to Encopresis" at http://www.momsguidetoencopresis.com/

Have a great day!!

Regards,
Stephanie

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 05/09/2012

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When we had this with our boys, we didn't have a prescription for anything, and didn't need one. Getting on a schedule for eating/drinking/sleeping is the key.

Upon waking in the morning, drink a glass of cold water. Within 20 minutes, you'll feel your bowels start to release, and you don't have a choice but to go. No miralax, no "miracle drug" from the doctor.

Plain old water and routine.

Geneviève - posted on 05/09/2012

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Catherine, I would love to discuss my son's with-holding poop issue but he hasn't used miralax. If you're still interested in having that chat, you may leave me your email adress and I will contact you from there.

Regards,
Gen

Catherine - posted on 05/07/2012

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HI
I am reporter at the New York Times who is writing about the complicated issue of kids and constipation and holding it poop. I really would love to talk to some parents who have struggled with this issue in their families, especially those who have used Miralax. I realize you may only want to use your first name in print to protect your kid's privacy, but still I would like to talk. Got time to do so this week anytime before May 15th but the sooner the better? I'm at stlouis at nytimes dot com.

Hope to hear from you.
Best,
Catherine Saint Louis

Jenn - posted on 05/05/2012

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I second sticker charts. Making it fun and making sure she drinks her prune juice and flax oil has made all the difference and kid-e-reg to get started. and now that she knows holding her poop in makes her tummy hurt and letting it out feels good and the poop is soft as long as she drinks her poop juice. Also naming the poop. My dd will say "Sissy boom boom I'm going to let you out okay?" And ill chime in for the poop and say "thank you. There's no room in here please let me out I just eant to go home. I'm not trying to hurt your tummy but there's no room. If you let me out I promise it won't hurt ". So far so good. Minus vacation.

Jenn - posted on 05/05/2012

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Sooo so frustrating! My daughter was(still is a little) the same. I made it worse by being so stressed by it. I eventually realized I needed to back off and stop stressing bc it wad stressing her out and making it worse. So I made it fun. Rewards rewards rewards. Poop cards that had prizes whether paint time or candy. Major explaining of how food turns to poop. Made a poop man out of cardboard and tubes and we would play doctor and put playdoh in and make him poop. Prune juice and adding flax oil telling her its honey (which is much better then mineral oil- adds nutrients rather than stripping the body of nutrients) cuddled on the toilet. Poop songs on you tube. Looking up other kids pooping on YouTube sounds gross but it gave her confidence to go. Not scolding which ads to the stress. But eventually having things taken away (like tv video games off limits till they go)- can't reward enough at first. Then once she started going I bumped the reward to weekly with popping every day (or close to). Aloe vera juice. But that one seemed a little harsh on her tummy - gassy tummy ache. I tried miralax once too and it seemed to do the same which made me think it would add to the problem. We were going great until we went on vacation and didn't bring a toilet cover. Now we need to start all over again. Were at every other day to every two days. Much better then 7 days! Once again I need to work on the confidence and not hound her to poop. Oh ya I also give her an herbal supplement that helps stimulation ( which they lose by holding). It has anise in it kid-e-reg I think is the name. Also having them sit on the toilet after meals will use the bodys natural urge to go. Now I think she has a hemorroid anf that may have been one of the culprits. So I need to deal with that so she doesn't hold it in and make it worse. but compared to a few months ago things are looking wayyy better. I still need to monitor but I don't feel like pulling my hair out or crying anymore.

Geneviève - posted on 12/01/2011

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Louise: Thanks so much for sharing. I had no idea what anoxic seizures were so I looked it up. I can't imagine what you must have gone through! I thought my son was the only one with this problem (withholding pooh). I soon found out when I posted on circle of moms that I am not alone. WE are not alone. It may seem silly to other parents, but what our children go through, we live it with them and feel so helpless. Thanks for the posts, ladies. Your advice is appreciated.

[deleted account]

My daughter is now five and has suffered from constipation since she was a few months old, basically since I introduced formula milk. she was on lactulose and senna for a couple of years and eventually started taking movicol sachets. We're in the uk so don't know if this is the same as Miralax referred to above? This has been really successful although we still get bouts of constipation. She has a deep routed psychological problem with going to the toilet because of the pain constipation caused when she was tiny, it actually caused reflex anoxic seizures. Her doctor thinks she could be as much a seven before we can lay off the medication but because it is gentle and not chemically forcing her bowels to work there shouldn't be long term problems. It can be really stressful but you just have to cope as best you can and you learn to recognise when you have to force the issue and not let them off the toilet until they've been. It does get easier, sticker charts have helped in the past too, especially when around 3 years old. Hope it sorts itself out x

Geneviève - posted on 12/01/2011

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I'll try the chocolate reward for the potty training. Ladies, I would like to thank you all for your advice. It is much appreciated.

Stephanie - posted on 11/30/2011

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A rewards system. Chocolate kisses did wonders for my son. When potty training, he refused to poop in the toilet- until magically candies that could only be obtained by going #2 came into the picture.

Alexandra - posted on 11/30/2011

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the GI specialist is a good idea. My son was on miralax for a while, now he poopoos fine.

Rowena - posted on 11/30/2011

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My son was three had same was put on laxative for years then taken off slowly he was given toile technique rock and pop u push on ya side while rocking on loo it worked my son thought it fun no more probs lol now eight bless him x

Jessica - posted on 11/30/2011

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My son didn't refuse, he just couldn't.....we did the miralax for awhile but it sort of came and went off and on and FINALLY we took him to a pediatric gastro doc and found out he was lactose intolerant which meant the lactose in the milk products was causing him pain and constipation and cramping. Now, he's SOOOOO much better. He's willing to eat, he chews fiber gummies every night before bed and if he wants oatmeal there is a kind where 1 bag of instant is 10 grams of fiber. Lactaid milk is expensive, however most places now have a store brand and Borden makes a lactose free cheese. Awsome. Good luck!!!

Kimberly - posted on 11/30/2011

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My 5 year old has had the same problem and it made potty training a nightmare. She is on Miralax and it does seem to help, although she still resists going to the potty if she has to poop and will try to hold it in. We also read "It Hurts When I Poop" and she was really excited about it, but it didn't seem to help the actual pooping situation. Be sure to keep in touch with his doctor and follow his suggestions. Good luck and hang in there!

[deleted account]

My son did the same thing, when he was potty learning. Its a vicious cycle. He held it in, and it would get hard and painful to pass and thus add to the fear of doing it again. Once, he didn't go for almost a week, we took him to his pediatrician gave him an enema clean out the weeks worth of poo. The doctor also said enemas should be avoided because they can become dependent on it. He also recommended that you make him sit at specific times (after meals) every day, even if he doesn't seem to have to go. It took a bit of patience. We took him to the toilet after meals, or when we saw him holding it back (with his legs pressed together. We made sure he was sitting so that he couldnt squeeze his legs together. We gave him a little ice cream for sitting not only as a reward, but also because it got things "moving" (although it might not work for everyone). Once things got moving regularly, then its no longer painful, and then the fear of it subsides, too. Another thing, is make sure he gets enough fluids, too. All the best :)

Alfreda - posted on 11/30/2011

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My daughter was like this, because when she pooped it would hurt, so she would withhold, which made them hurt more. It was a nasty cycle. The only thing we found to help her was oranges, blueberries, and kiwis. They would make her explode and give a relief until she got bound up again. Eventually she started pooping in her sleep every night, so I had to force her to poop before bed each night. She really likes her bedtime story so she would not get her story unless she pooped, or at least made an effort. She would cry every time because it hurt, but so I would give her dried apricots and tell her that would help. Then it started to hurt only infrequently, and when it would hurt we would give her dried apricots or strawberries. Then it stopped hurting altogether an she stopped withholding. It is now routine for a year and she goes with minimal complaining. Recently, since she turned about 4.5 she has actually started going during the day right away if she needs to rather than holding it until her pooping time. She knows if she poops sometime during the day, then she doesn't have to poop before bedtime. If you are potty training, maybe go back to pullups for a bit to let his bowels get back to normal. Sometimes they withhold because they don't want to poop in the toilet. My daughter started withholding when she started solids, and even after completely cutting out rice cereal, she battled with it constantly.

Melissa - posted on 11/30/2011

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have you considered that there may be a diet issue that is contributing to this problem or taken your child to a specialist, sometimes there are problems a per can't see without extra tests.

Jamie - posted on 11/29/2011

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We did mirolax with our daughter. For some reason we have babies that can't go on their own from 1 to 5 months of age. 1st time using mirolax we gave her too much, not good at any age. Start with smaller amounts and gradually work up toll you find what works. Our cousins kids take it to at 2 and 5 yrs old. It's a everyday thing tho untill they learn to poo again. If you use to much tho it could scare them, just like if you were to use a laxative. Not fun. Or try colace I used the off brand when preg and it wasn't like a laxative it never gave me the stomache cramping. Just made it easier to go. Good lick!

Kate CP - posted on 11/29/2011

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The definition of constipation:
A condition in which there is difficulty in emptying the bowels, usually associated with hardened feces.

Just because there wasn't an impaction (A fecal impaction is a solid, immobile bulk of human feces that can develop in the rectum as a result of chronic constipation) does NOT mean he wasn't or isn't constipated.

Suzanne - posted on 11/29/2011

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Kate- thats what we thought too but the Dr could not find any back up in his system. this started from a very young age he was only 1 when it stated, the Dr even had us switch his milk from cows milk to see if that could be causing the problem. they have never figured out what causes it with him and even today at 11 it is still fairly hard most of the time even with lots of water, fibre and fruits. one of the mysteries of the human body.

Nicola - posted on 11/29/2011

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try one of the soluble fibres you can put them in all his drinks and he won't know he is taking them. my 10 year old is being a pain about eating fruit and veg at the moment he would rather go hungry if its not the ones he likes. so this is my plan to keep him regular.

Geneviève - posted on 11/29/2011

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Thanks so much ladies for your feedback. It is greatly appreciated and gives me some sort of comfort to know that I'm not alone. It is very difficult to watch my 3 years old boy go through this. He's been in this vicious cycle for about a year now. The last time he poohed was last Thursday! That's five days! He seemed in great spirits today but I know he feels anxiety when he needs to go. He says his bum hurts. I keep encouraging him to push but he just refuses and tries to change the subject. Poor thing. I have had no success in potty training him because of this problem. My parents are putting pressure on me to potty train him, but they don't seem to comprehend his problem. The doctor prescribed jamb-lactulose, it worked for a while then he refuses to take it. I changed his diet to high in fiber, more veggies and fruit (he absolutely loves raisins), whole wheat toast in the morning and the doctor prescribed another laxative : Lansoyl which worked for a while, he would go 2-3 times a day. But now, he has regressed and I have no idea what triggered it. I feel like such a failure!

Maureen - posted on 11/29/2011

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I agree with above and add to restrict dairy, specifically products made with cows milk. The stools will be much more easy to come out and he will lean in time that it doesn't hurt . My kids like almond milk a lot now. I bake with almond or coconut milk and took cheese out of house. It really is rare that they eat dairy and we often see the old issues arise when we indulge a few times in a row.

Suzanne - posted on 11/29/2011

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my son who now 11 had problems with pooping right from birth he was never really constapated but it was always hard and round ( rabbit turds) we sometimes would give him a mild laxitive to help empty his bowles because even though he was not constapated the lack of moisture in it mad it uncomfortable comming out so he would not let himself empty his bowles. the laxitive forced the draining and made it better. if his BMs are runny he could have a blockage that let some out but not all and the laxitives would help if used for a few days

Kate CP - posted on 11/28/2011

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My daughter is 5 and this issue has caused nerve damage in her. Your son needs to see a GI specialist. What my daughter's doctor did for her was put her on a maintenance dose of Miralax which makes her stools very soft and she CAN'T hold it. Now we're just dealing with the nerve damage she did to herself and coping.

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