Saturday, April 26, 2014

Try Probiotics

Try giving your child a probiotic.  

It is unlikely to cause any harm and can help to replenish the good bacteria in the digestive system.  This is especially important if your child has been on any kind of antibiotics.  Even though antibiotics are wonderful in many ways, there is lots of research showing that antibiotics can create problems in the digestive tract (and be especially harmful to children).  Probiotics can help.  Probiotics come in all kinds of easy-to-administer powders and gummies.

Have you tried probiotics?  Did you find it helpful?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

You know you're an encopresis parent if...

You know you're an encopresis parent if...

1) You have an extra pair of underwear and pants for your child in the glove compartment of your car and in your purse at all times.

2) You spend more time chatting online with other enco parents (that you've never met in real life) than you do with your actual friends.

3) An old friend from high school emails you out of the blue because their child is having pooping problems and they heard you might be able to help.

4) You know where to buy pull-ups to fit a 7 year old.

5) When you strike up a conversation with another parent at the park, you inevitably start talking about pooping.  Every time!

6) You've ever caused hundreds of kids to leave a waterpark because your child leaked some poop into the pool.  

7) You're on a first name basis with the receptionist at the pediatric gastroenterologist's office.

8) You know the laxative aisle at Target like the back of your hand.

My favorite aisle at Target! :)

9) You are willing to do anything and everything to help your child heal from encopresis!

Are you an encopresis parent? Do any of these ring true for you?

What should poop look like?

I hope that you did not just eat lunch.  This is kinda gross.  But helpful, I promise!

I downloaded this fabulous poop chart from here.

The goal is to have Type 3 or 4 poop (4 is the best).  Types 1 and 2 are too hard (constipation).  Types 5, 6 and 7 are too soft).  Your goal is to have ONE HOTDOG-LIKE POOP EVERY 24 HOURS.

These numbers are useful to use if you are keeping a poop journal.

Have you used this kind of poop classification before?

What I've Learned

I never imagined that I would have a child with pooping problems.  It just seems so random.  And gross.  But I think I've learned a few things from the experience.

1) Compassion for others. I have so much more compassion for other people's struggles now.  I see people with parenting problems and health problems and my heart just goes out to them.  I know how hard this can be.

2) Love for my child. I have always loved my child, of course.  But working through her encopresis problems has deepened and expanded my love for her.

3) Don't give up when the doctors are out of ideas.  Medical doctors are wonderful and they provide great service in many areas.  For some reason, however, the doctors we saw were not very helpful in treating my daughter's encopresis problems.  I had to do a lot of outside reading and reach out to family and friends with similar challenges in order to find solutions that worked for my daughter.  I learned that I needed to be an advocate for my daughter in the doctor's office.  

4) I am not alone. When my daughter first started having pooping problems, I was confused.  What was wrong with my child?  No one I knew had a child with this kind of problem.  I have since learned that lots of people have pooping problems, they just don't talk about it much!  I have now connected with dozens of families who have encopresis problems.  There is strength in numbers!

5) This too shall pass. For about a year, I wasn't sure that we would ever get over my daughter's pooping problems.  I wondered if she would ever go to school or ever be able to lead a normal life.  But now that we are mostly over her pooping problems, I can look back with gratitude and realize that we made it through to the other side!

6) Poop can be really gross.  I never dreamed that I would have to clean up so much poop!  I have cleaned poop out of carpets, rugs, bedding, mattresses and hair.  I have cleaned poop out of the bathtub more times that I care to remember.  I have cleaned up poop at church, at parks, at the pool, at pre-school, in the car, on the side of the road, at museums, at the grocery store, and at friends' houses.  Pretty much anywhere we've ever been :)

What have you learned from dealing with encopresis?

Pooping Books

There are lots of books out there about pooping problems.  

Here are three children's books:

1) It Hurts When I Poop

And three parent guide books:

2) The Ins and Outs of Poop

3) Constipation, Withholding and Your Child

Have you read any of these books?  Which did you find most helpful?

Get Support

Having a child with encopresis can be overwhelming.  Sometimes it feels like the problem is taking over your life.  

There are lots of support groups out there.

Here are some examples:

1) - This site offers a book and an online forum for treating encopresis.

2) - This is a comprehensive online program with videos, chats and reading materials.

3) Facebook support group - A great place to ask questions and get advice.

4) Doctor Daum - A pediatric GI doctor who provides personalized treatment plans via telephone.  I didn't know about this doctor when we were struggling with encopresis, but I wish I had!!  

Have you used any of these support tools?  Were they helpful?

Keep a poop journal

The best way to monitor your child's progress is by keeping a poop journal.

With everything you've got going on in your life, I'm pretty sure that keeping a poop journal is not high on list of priorities.  But it really is the best way to see what works and what doesn't.

Here's what you need to do:

1) Grab a word document or excel spreadsheet or just a plain ol' notebook. Use whatever method is going to be most convenient for you.  It's not going to be super fun to keep a poop notebook, so make it as easy on yourself as possible.

2)  As best you can, record the date and time for each of the following:

*Any medications taken (including Miralax, Ex-lax, etc)
*Every time the child poops (also include a brief description of what the poop looked like and amount)
*Any poop accidents or crumbs/ smears in the underwear
*Peeing events (if you've also got peeing issues going on)
*Any medical visits or tests

3) If possible, also record what the child eats and drinks.  This is especially important if you are making dietary changes, like trying a dairy-free diet.

Why a poop journal is helpful:

1) A poop journal will help you make connections.  The intestinal tract is long and it can take a while for medication and dietary changes to show up in the poop.  A journal will help you make connections that you might miss otherwise.

2) A poop journal will help you to talk to you doctor.  If you show up at your pediatrician or gastrointestinal doc with a poop journal, they will be able to give you much better advice. 

2) Healing from encopresis can be a long journey.  A poop journal will help you see how far you've come!

Have you kept a poop journal for your child?  Did you find it helpful?