What you need to know:
What you need to know:
- When my friend’s daughter hadn’t pooped in 36 hours, she was worried
- For this reason, you should ideally have a bowel movement for every meal you eat
Last week, I attended to a baby having trouble with her bowel movements. According to most paediatricians, it’s fairly normal for an infant to go through phases where they only have three to four bowel movements a week. Some even go as far as to say that going once a week isn’t necessarily cause for concern.
When my friend’s daughter hadn’t pooped in 36 hours, she was worried. Granted that it was well within the timeframe that doctors consider unusual, but she felt that something wasn’t right (especially as she knew that adults should have a minimum of two bowel movements a day).
Let me explain. The job of our digestive tract is to break down the food we eat, absorbing the nutrients and eliminating the waste. Food moves along by a process called peristalsis (a very similar action to how an earthworm moves) towards, and out of, the exit. For this reason, you should ideally have a bowel movement for every meal you eat (yes really). However, with the more “Western” diet that we now have (more processed, higher in fat and sugar), our colon tends to behave more like a reservoir, so that most people consider going once a day, or even less, normal.
As I’ve seen at my clinic, this is what can lead to toxicity – a situation where the colon behaves like an overflowing sewer, which can result in issues such as stomach pain, constipation, fatigue, gas and bloating, headaches, indigestion, insomnia, restlessness, not to mention a large, protruding belly!
It was the belly that disappeared when this little girl did poop. She also lost 140 grams – quite a lot for a five kilo baby. Even though the stool had been of a normal consistency (it is the hard stools that paediatricians normally worry about), I wasn’t happy. Why had this baby been constipated?
When children are weaned onto solids, constipation can result and parents are told to go back to the individual foods that they are introducing. But my friend’s baby was purely breastfed, so that meant it was a food that she was eating. More specifically, it was an unusual food that my friend had eaten that week.
Scanning my friend’s food diary, I also looked at the top six allergens (dairy, wheat, soy, eggs, peanuts, and fish) to see if any of those were the problem. We found the culprit: millet. Although it’s a wonderful grain and is excellent in promoting breast-milk production, eating too much of it wasn’t suiting this baby. It really was that simple, and soon enough, this little bundle of joy was a happy pooping baby again.
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