Constipation in kids.. let’s cut the crap.. literally.
How often should your child go #2?
If you type this question into your local Facebook moms group you will likely hear many different answers as well as some quite frankly, horrifying home remedies you can do to make them go. Many parents are recommended to give adult doses of Miralax to their children as young as 2 years old for months on end. Should we have to be resorting to such drastic interventions just to make our kiddos poop? Bowel movements are such a basic biological process, as they say, “everybody poops.” But why do some kiddos struggle? If you have ever been constipated, you know how miserable it is. Kiddos feel the same way, and often constipation is intertwined with meltdowns, anxiety, and behavioral issues because it causes them so much distress.
Diet can certainly be a culprit, gluten and dairy are commonly blamed. While our diet does play a role, we often forget that neurology is king in the function of our digestive system. The digestive system is made of muscular tubes that are designed to move food along until we ultimately eliminate it into the toilet. As with any muscle, the digestive system is controlled by a rich supply of nerves that stimulate the muscles to contract and move the food along. These nerves are profoundly affected by stress. A stressed-out nervous system is a stressed-out digestive system. A nervous system under stress is commonly known as our “fight or flight” response. Think of it this way, if you were running from a bear, would you take time to stop and poop? Or would you rather your body send any and all energy to your muscles so you can keep running?
“Fight or flight” is great when running from a bear. However, if overactive because of stress in a kiddo’s life, whether physical, chemical, or emotional, it shuts down the opposite side of the nervous system: the “Rest and Digest” response. “Rest and Digest,” as you can imagine, stimulates among other things, calming, digestion and elimination. “Rest and Digest “ works via activation of the Vagus nerve (see other blog posts for an in-depth dive into the Vagus nerve).
In order to break up the wound up “fight or flight” response, we have to stimulate the “rest and digest” response. Cue pediatric chiropractic care. Gentle and specific chiropractic adjustments stimulate the “rest and digest” response allowing the Vagus nerve to come back online and do its job more efficiently.
Fun Fact: Dr. Randi at SFC is affectionately known as the “poop doctor” because so many kiddos come in struggling with constipation and end up pooping like champs! If your kiddo is struggling we would love to see if we can help!