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poo withholding nightmare(33 Posts)
I have a two and a half year old who for the last 6 months had been withholding poos. It is ruining his life and making us all very miserable. He becomes very tired and anxious and then lies on the sofa clutching himself. If we make him stand up to try and get him to poo he shouts no! no! i dont want to. He gets very very upset. This can go on all day, sometimes for two days. He can withhold for up to 4 days. If we ignore him he just gets into a big sweaty mess, and it is difficult to ignore.
He is on lactose solution, but i dont think he is constipated. When he eventually poos, he says it didnt hurt. His bum doesnt look sore. He is a new man as soon as it is over....until the next time. Any help or advise would be appreciated as this is driving us mad.
My dd used to do this. Dd was on movicol, lactulose, and occaisionally senna, for 10 months before she stopped deliberately witholding. We were told to adust the laxitives so that she HAD TO poo every day and couldn't hold it. A major factor for us was finding a reward that really worked - for us it was chocolate - nothing else came close.
Dd was like this for a looooong time. In the end, potty traing her did the trick. No idea why. Is your ds potty trained?
You have my sympathy - dh and I still refer to that time as 'the dark days'!
DD1 had this same problem. It lasted for about a year or so. A with the other posters, we tried lactulose etc. My gp had the same problem with her son, she said that the child would naturally grow out of it.Bloody hellish every day, but she did grow out of it, just stopped being scared one day (after a tummy upset iirc).
My friend is going through this with her DD at the moment. I've no tips (she's currently on lactulose) but I know it is driving my friend round the bend and she us desperate for advice.
This will sound weird, but ....
When I was toilet training DD she went through a stage of being happy to wee anywhere but insisting that she had a nappy on to poo and refusing to do so unless we put one on her. She was starting to get very anxious about the whole business until a friend suggested that we did what she termed "examining the poo"(!) This basically meant that each time DD poo-ed (whether in nappy or potty) we had a good look at it to see what it was like, e.g. colour, consistency, etc., decided that we had no use for it, and disposed of it. I know it sounds totally weird, but the friend's point was that some kids reach a stage of consciousness where they know that something is coming out of their body and that have some control over it, but they are not sure what it is and can therefore get anxious about "losing" it, particularly if this coincides with moving from the "comfort" of nappies to the potty. I was extremely skeptical when she suggested it, but, as she pointed out, for as long as they wear a nappy they hardly ever see it as it gets whipped away while they lie waiting for the new nappy. So .... we spent about a week "examining the poo" in nappies and on the potty and, while I don't think it greatly enriched my life, DD found it fascinating and we have had no problems since!
The things you do as a mother ......
Thanks everyone. Just nice to hear people that can relate to this nightmare. He is very precious about a poo once he has done it and says he wants to keep it.When I eventually change his nappy I show it to him, but he doesnt seem too interested. He loves chocolate but no bribe is good enough. He will volunteer to go to bed so that he can lie down to stop it coming. It is completely miserable. I may well go back to the doctor, but when the poo comes it is big and soft so I cant see that he is constipated.If there were impacted faeces in there I presume he couldnt do a big poo? He drinks lots and eats fruit ( and chocolate!) I am wary of laxatives, but I will talk to the doctor about it and see if she thinks we should try something other than lactose. I think it is all phsycological. I am baffled as I have two other children who just did poos.I really cant see an end to this, but I suppose he has to grow out of it eventually???
nondomesticgodess - he isnt potty trained. He knows exactly when he is weeing and so i could do it but I have just thought this would make things worse. Why do you think this worked for you and how old was your dd when you did it?
Agree with Redqueen -- some DCs think the poo is actually a body part they are losing. With one of my DCs we would put the poo in the loo and wave goodbye. At potty training, the poo was actually eliminated into the loo of course... We had a story about the poo going off to join all the other poos at a great big poo party. We would say things like 'have fun at the party, poo' and 'see you again soon'. The control aspect of it is very important to some DCs.
I also increased the amount of fibre in DC's diet, more fruit, etc., and more fluids, to make it harder to hold it back. And rewards were a help too, plus praise and smiles, sometimes through gritted teeth....
we are just coming out of this place, and I am with you, it is miserable. For me, the big chance was realising it was a real problem that needed long term action, and nobody was going to help me.
I found a grat book (Amazon for it) called witholding and something else, written by a great english doctor who trained at GOH it turned it round for us
Get Movicol. You will need to take it for ages (over 1 1/2 years with us). Your son is not constipated now (he may once have been) but he has learnt to withhold. For us the keys were (1) toilet training - not potty for him - your son is already toilet trianed in that he can choose when to go, he is just excetising the choice the wrong way. (2) enormous sticker chart with many incentives ending in somethign he REALLY wanted
I agree, for a while it took over our life. A low point was a very rare night out when I spent the whole night in the pub with my DH sobbing into my beer and talking poo
Also, get books on pooing - Everybody Poos and a good one about an Octopus in teh loo and one with the little mole pooing on heads (sorry I should look this all up for you but its too late and I wanted to answer for you!)
NEVER use suppositories, for children that withold by choice it makes things worse (says very wise GOH man)
Hope this helps, very good luck
We went through this for about a year and a half with ds1. big soft poos actually are about impaction though. The impaction allows some material to go around it and it comes out as a big, fluffy poo. So ruling out/clearing an impaction is very necessary.
We did Miralax (lactulose) for a year but then decided to start supplements instead. So now he is on big-time probiotics, cod liver oil, powdered fiber, and magnesium glycinate. We put all but the cod liver oil in juice and he drinks it down just fine.
Oh, and we took him off dairy. He does OK with goat milk now but not cow's milk.
My son (now 15) had the same thing, we were lucky enough to get a referral to an expert in childhood constipation. A possible expnation: he may have had a slight anal tear once while doing a poo which made subsequent pooing very painful and even after the tear healed, he then associated poo and pain so will not do it. He went on a course of caster oil and parrafin oil (called parachoc then). He had to take them at night before bed so that this would work in conjunction with the natural process of pooing in the morning. All the poos were then soft (after a few days) and so after a few weeks no more pain. However, you have to keep it up for a long time in order that no hard poos can remind the child. After about 6 months, try every 2nd day. This was a long process but was successful, there are no quick fixes for this. He has now gone on to have entirely different problems!
Gabby... that was the problem with my dd.
She was terrified to 'go' in case it hurt..held it in...until it hurt. vicious circle. It was only when she had a stomach upset that she lost the control and that broke the cycle. I had to remind family and friends to refrain from giving her loads of attention at the 'i'm clenching my buttocks' time, as this only highlighted the problem and seemed to make it worse. I empathise LEO, but it will get better.
Agree with RedQueen - I read something similar when preparing to potty train, so showed the poo in the nappy to DD a few times beforehand so she would get used to it.
Also, when potty training, found that bribery for the special achievement of pooing in the potty/toilet worked a trick and prevented any issues of not wanting to poo elsewhere but nappy.
i sympathise. have just come through this myself too with dd1. strawberries and oranges are great. grapes too. bananas to be avoided at all costs as they aid with making more constipated. def dont assume that soft poos mean not constipated- get him checked out and then think about what action to take. orange juice diluted with meals and oranges and grapes are great natural diaretics.
This was us. And if I had known about MN at the time may not have thought I was losing my mind, which is why I will try to answer you although it was a few years ago now.
Agree ds wasn't constipated but the lactulose was to loosen his bowels a bit so that he couldn't help but go. It wasn't sore for him either but it was when he held on for days, got all swaety,tetchy etc. Like your son, he was a different person. Gp advised him to stay on the lactulose twice a day for 1-2 months and then to gradually wean him off it.
He used to eat loads of fruit, so adding more seemed pointless. Exercise is apparently good and I remember debating whether or not to take him to his gym class as he had been holding for 4 days and I was terrified he would get himself into a state in class. Was advised to take him and an hour after returning, we had the prize.
There isn't much more advice I can give except try to keep it together (I found that hard at times )and I promise it will pass. I became obsessed with it for several months and it was such a relief when I realised I had stopped thinking about it quite so much. My ds is almost 7 now and although it took over my life at the time, we look back alnmost fondly at certain hideous events, e.g, the time he woke up screaming in agony , was fast asleep by the time we reached him, and it was only on investigating that we discovered his relaxed sleeping body had expelled what he had spent days hanging on to.
Ds has just recently stopped this. It was a pahase that lasted a few months. We were at the Eden Project one time and he was standing while bending to the left, his preferred method of with-holding with the tell-tale red and serious face when a woman walked passed and said 'are you okay?' to which I replied 'He's trying to stop his poo coming out'. She didn't have a response!
We are in the middle of this now. I think I posted a few weeks ago. MY DS 2.5 began withholding after a virus when he got bad nappy rash.Followed by constipation.
I am like you and was very reluctant to try any laxatives but my very sensible GP ( and a few friends who had had this experience and whose advice I trust) explained that the only way to stop this is to make the poo too soft to hold in.
It makes for some interesting nappies but has worked and he is back to his happy little self. ( except for when he actually poos and needs a change when he runs off into a corner)
I couldn't believe when they said this could last for months. But now I see why. Although his physical discomfort is gone I can see that the memory of the pain is still with him but fading a little bit every day.
We are trying to get as much fibre into him as possible and continuing on the laxative for now.
Hope this settles for your little one. It's awful to see them in so much pain.
This will end, I promise.
We are still kind of going through it with dd who is 3 and a bit.
She is on movicol and we adjust it to make sure she goes every day. If she doesn't, I up the dose.
Like you, I thought she wasn't constipated as her poos were soft and she wasn't sore, but she 'leaked' poo all the time which I've since learnt is overflow. Sorry if tmi.
Toilet training definately helped as we could see what was going on rather than her just having a constant dirty nappy.
I wrapped a load of really tack cheap presents and put them in a basket in the bathroom. I told her they were poo presents and when she did one on the toilet she could pick a present.
I also got a copy of mr poo goes to pooland from a lovely mumsnetter, I don't remember her name, that helped with any worry about what poo is and where it goes.
I never thought I'd have the whole family standing round the toilet waving off mr poo and his children and a wee as we flush. Happy days!
Good luck and try not to stress about it.
It's taken a while and she's still on the movicol 9 months later, but it's worth it.
we have this with ds we gave him lactulose and senna to soften the poo and help him go until he was confident in going again all come froma serious case of constipation and really hurt him and from then he didnt want to go as thought it would hurt so the medication was to keep it soft so he would get over his fear its been long winded as his 4 now but he will sit on toilet and go on the good days
we do sending poo to poo land poo fairy brings lollies etc lol we have had the chat about how poo's like to go swimming and how it can hurt if you dont go etc. its just getting confidence back again to go
Leo - sorry, have just come back to this. We potty-trained dd at 2.3 - pretty early in my book and I wouldn't have done it then aside from the fact I wanted to try everything I could - we had this poo refusal issue for over a year.
I started by putting her on a potty to watch TV when I knew she was well overdue a 'visit'. I basically made her sit there until she'd done a poo (could sometimes take nearly an hour - we had a potty that was a bit like a seat so it wasn't too uncomfortable). She would be crying but would usually eventually go. We then did so much praise and showing her the poo and chocolate rewards.
It didn't always work but for some reason when we then properly went with it and potty-trained her, the pooing issue stopped almost overnight.
A year later, she is now very regular and we have never had a problem with it.
Now I just have ds's diarrhoea to contend with...!
Am reading this with interest - sorry to hijack- but having similar issue with DD (2.5). Not sure if she is withholding as such, she does poo more or less every day, often twice but will only do it in the nappy. She uses potty or toilet for wees quite happily but rarely poos in potty & has never managed in toilet. As she is in pants, she only has nappy for sleeps & I can just about guarantee than within 15 min or so of nap/bedtime she will be up asking for a nappy change. Can't figure if this is a)a ploy to get out of bed, b)dropping off to sleep & relaxing enough to poo or c) only happy to poo in a nappy. Have you got any further forward with DS Leo ?
Hi everyone. Pretty much in the same place as when I last wrote. Although I would say we have had a few poos that were less stressful than usual. Still very much an issue in his head. I am so interested to hear those of you who said toilet training helped and I think I will give this a go over the christmas holidays. My general impression though is that this is something that I will just have to get through and only when he decides it is over will it be over.
The few successful poos have been as a result of me being very forceful with him. Taking him to his room and telling him we cant go downstairs until he had done it. This results in lots of tears (not nice), but after 20 minutes or so he just pushes and does it!! I have only done this when he has got to the stage where he cant stand up he is so desperate. I would like him to poo before he reaches this stage as there is still plenty of misery before hand.
Anyway, thanks so much to you all - back to it!
we are in the middle of this as well, and i wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy--so awful. i just read "constipation, withholding and your child," which helped. my 3 year old's record for holding it in is 11 days, and the poop is always soft. the pediatrician explained that children can sometimes pass soft stools, even if there is something harder and older still inside. it sounds insane, i know. but he put her on a laxative and prescribed occasional drugstore pediatric enemas, which are total hell to administer and keep me awake at night, dreading them and second-guessing the psychological impact they have on my child. BUT. they work. she passed some very hard, very old, very big stuff after all of this, sort of like we'd shaken something loose. then we had 2 glorious weeks of daily, effortless, soft poops. and now she's back to her old tricks, which i think is my fault for taking her off the laxatives too soon. i think it takes a long time for these kids to unlearn the bad habit of holding it in, and the laxatives have to be a long term solution. so we're back on them, and waiting for the next poop. awful awful awful. but you are not alone. i came across this blog entry awhile ago which made me feel better too: http://dooce.com/archives/daily/01252007.html