Bowel movement is something that is really not a part of our normal conversation. I know, I wrinkle my nose when my kids do potty talk whether it is at the dining table or otherwise. Call it my prim and proper upbringing, as kids we kept topics below the belt (pun intended) under close wraps meant only to be spoken in whispers. Constipation for us was a term most often used for someone with an uptight expression rather than the organic problem that it is. Also, doesn’t it only affect adults? I must tell you that I don’t really recall having any episodes of constipation as a kid and hence thought this is not really a common issue. It only affects those who have a really terrible diet or aliens. How wrong was I! Come to think of it, I had a pretty vague idea about constipation before I became a parent. I mean do children really have trouble passing stools? Apparently they do as I discovered when I became a mother.

My son used to have a tough time when he was a baby as he was unable to poop. Poor little baby could only cry as he strained hard, but the stool would just not come out. The husband and I would have to insert suppositories to help him pass bowels. It was an experience which was both stressful and painful. To see the child suffer so much really made us helpless and mad. I felt a bit awkward approaching the elderly ladies in the family with the problem as ‘such’ issues were generally, not discussed. A couple of other moms of my age group I spoke to also were equally clueless.


Finally, we reached out to a doctor and understood what we could do to help our child have normal bowel movements regularly. Now I wonder why I took so long and endured months of misery.

We got to know that going less than 3 times a week is what the doctors consider constipation. But for most of us, constipation is the discomfort when we haven’t either emptied our bowels adequately, needed to strain or just had not had a bowel movement in a day. It is not a nice feeling to experience as it affects everything you do and your demeanour. It weighs heavily on your mind. I know now because I have had several bouts of constipation especially in the time period after my deliveries. I had to slowly nudge my system back to health and also remember to have extra water and more fibrous food.

What I mostly do is to increase my water intake immediately to 3-4 litres daily. Remember that tea, coffee and colas do not count as fluids. Actually they dehydrate you further. I also pay special attention to include fibre in the diet at home, things like whole grains, fruits, nuts, seeds etc. And since I exercise regularly and generally go at the same time daily, I haven’t had too much trouble with constipation. Many women will find that they may feel constipated around their periods. Follow the steps mentioned above.

The worst part is that there is not enough conversation around us about this problem that is very common. ‘Potty talk’ especially when not of the funny kind makes most of us uncomfortable. A few digs aside, we need to talk regularly about constipation and share experiences as well as solutions with each other. The taboo, as with many topics of health, needs to go away completely. Since bowel movements and constipation are not generally considered as savoury conversation topics, most times help is not sought and the issue may get aggravated leading to painful haemorrhoids. Do you remember those ads about piles consultation that one would see plastered on walls and bill board hoardings especially during train journeys. I remember my parents filching and turning their faces aways and we followed suit. I never had any clue about what piles was and any attempts to get answers were gently and firmly nudged away.

So next time when someone says potty, don’t screw your nose and walk away. Participate in the dialog. It may help you maintain good bowel health. And never shy away from discussing this with your doctor, whether you have a child or an adult who is suffering from this issue.

Pic courtesy: Shutterstock

Disclaimer: Any opinion expressed in this blog is my personal opinion and not the opinion of Abbott India Limited. Abbott India Limited does not assume any liability for the content of the blog. The blog post is not meant to be a replacement for a doctor consultation, nor is it a medical recommendation or prescription of treatment for people having constipation problems. Any reader of this blog suffering from constipation problems should specifically consult his/her doctor for treatment  and follow the suggested course of treatment.



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13 Thoughts on “Constipation: The Hidden Struggle

  1. Thank you so much for writing about this, especially constipation in children. Constipation is poorly understood also because of the values that modern, westernized mindsets that we are pressured to adopt – competitiveness, power, withholding, not expressing our true feelings/fears, and being in control. Children are toilet trained as early as possible and chastised when they let go. As adults too, as you mentioned, we remain conditioned to not potty talk, to go once in the morning and “be done with it.”

    A few physical things that I have found helpful are letting the passage of motion be a subconscious act by focusing on abdominal breathing, by using the upward contraction of the sphincter to generate peristalsis that, contrary to what one might believe, aids releasing hard stools, and finally, doing inverted yogic poses as one’s fitness level permits.

    At the emotional level, being able to forgive others and one’s own self, being able to acknowledge the presence of fears and insecurities, and being able to accept and express love make a huge difference to “easy passage.”

    For those suffering from chronic constipation, an examination of what we are holding on to and are reluctant to let go of is often indicative of where the problem lies.
    Subho recently posted…Indian. Enough. For You?My Profile

  2. You normally see posts about severe constipation when it comes to the elderly, but I really appreciate this for it tapped about children as well. I couldn’t thank you enough for this post. I really appreciate it.
    Jeric Danao recently posted…Sights to See with your Senior CompanionMy Profile

  3. This needs to be spoken about. Children and aged people go through this often and yeah it is troublesome. As for me, I just can’t poop when I’m staying elsewhere or on a vacation. I don’t know why and my stomach feels so heavy and bloaty that I end up having a headache.

    Maybe I should visit the doctor for this too.
    Soumya recently posted…Book Review: The Memory Keeper’s DaughterMy Profile

  4. It’s always so embarrassing to speak about it, we really should shoo away this taboo. I remember being constipated a few times in class and during travels, it’s such a pain. I don’t usually let anyone know either, so the suffering is silent and suppressed. Thanks for broaching this topic in here.
    Dashy recently posted…From Fresher to SophomoreMy Profile

  5. Definitely it’s a very important part of health Rachna and as you rightly said should be discussed and solutions sought out. Since my parents were docs, used to be open about it with them but I realize that for many of us, it’s still not an easy topic to talk about.
    Asha recently posted…Dittory : The Divine InterventionMy Profile

  6. This is such a useful topic on constipation..Even my lo when she was around 1 used to have a sever time pooping..She used to cry for hours for the poop to come out..My granny had some home remedies when finally now at this stage she is not finding hard to poop

  7. Like you i always believed that constipation was the result of a poor diet. I have now come to understand that it is just one of the reasons. Some people have a tendency towards it and need to take special care. My mom, my sister and now my daughter. Thanks for the tips. I know water helps. I need to read up more ways to increase fibre in her diet.
    Obsessivemom recently posted…10 top gifts for new momsMy Profile

    • Our normal sabzis and fruits work great for fibre. As long as the kids don’t have too much maida or processed food, their gut would be healthier.

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