Many might have heard about post-partum depression, but fewer people know about post-partum anxiety. Post-partum anxiety normally occurs in new mothers still adapting to their new phase of life: motherhood. This condition is normal among mothers, and up to 18% of women have reported experiencing the symptom of post-partum anxiety (1). That amount is huge; thus, please be at ease for those women reading this article because you feel alone. You are not alone in this.
Mothers, please give a pat on yourself. Being the one who is taking care of your child that comes out of your womb is no easy task. Some mothers experiencing post-partum anxiety stated there are a few obvious symptoms you could observe to know more about post-partum anxiety. Some of the symptoms are shortness of breath, intense fear of death of babies, racing thoughts about the baby's condition and also inability to sleep even though your babies are already sleeping peacefully (2).
Constipation Among Babies
Racing thoughts about the baby's condition could worsen, especially if the baby is experiencing not-so-normal conditions in their daily activities, such as constipation. New mothers might have thought their babies need to poop normally as adults. Some of these mothers would feel jitters and obsessively check their children's diapers to ensure they are excreting their faeces. When no excretion occurs, these moms become anxious and are already thinking of ways to improve this condition. These obsessive thoughts could affect the moms' sleeping patterns as they cannot sleep at night thanks to their non-stop racing thoughts.
However, moms don't have to worry about this constipation problem. Your baby might excrete poops from twice a day to once every ten days. The frequency of their bowel movements could vary that much (3). While there is the possibility that these babies have slow digestion, they might also be experiencing constipation. Take a moment to look at your baby's face while your child is pooping. If your child is showing a reaction of pain and crying during the bowel movement process, then that might be the symptom of constipation. Mothers could also observe the condition of the poop. If the poop came out in hard pellets with a streak of blood, then your doubt is confirmed (4).
What causes Constipation among Babies, and How to Help?
There are a few reasons why constipation occurs among babies. Knowing what causes the problem would eventually help mothers to prevent the causes from starting in the first place. There is no need for mothers to be anxious; thus, let's discover this together
Changes from liquid food to solid food
Babies usually will face constipation when they are in the process of changing their diet from liquid-based to solid-based food. Babies that change the food types eaten are still learning how to digest the food. This learning process requires some time, so babies might need to digest the food normally.
Lack of fibre in babies' diet
Babies, like adults, need to consume enough fibre to have a good digestion process. These babies that are having bowel movement problems might be having a diet that lacks fibre. Some parents probably feel intimidated to give their child food that is high in fibre as this food is usually correlated with hard-to-eat food. However, parents are advised not to be afraid. Children and babies still need to eat 19g of fibre daily; thus, daily fibre intake is necessary. The sources of fibre need to be from the food source, not from milk consumption. Parents could give finger food from raw vegetables and fruit sources such as celery, carrot and prunes to help the baby's bowel movement.
Besides taking fruits and vegetables, babies could also be given high-fibre grains.
Wrong way of preparing baby's formula
Formula-fed babies, indeed, tend to face constipation compared to breastfed babies. This is because breast milk is easier for babies to digest and has a component that helps babies regulate their bowel movements. The baby formula, on the other hand, has a larger milk component, thus making it difficult for babies to digest- which leads to constipation (5).
Some of the mothers have also been preparing their baby's formula incorrectly. Mother should know that water must be placed first inside the bottle, according to the portion suggestion, and then only the milk is inserted. If mothers put the milk first instead of water, the milk will become thick due to less water added. Mother is also suggested to swirl the bottle after preparing the baby's formula instead of shaking the bottle. Shaking the bottle would cause gas to be entrapped in the mixture, which leads to bloating problems among babies (6).
Babies are busy playing
Yes. This could also be one of the constipation factors. Babies are too focused on playing and being in their sunshine world until they forget to poop. They rather play rather than give in to the urge to release their faeces. When this act is done repetitively, it will cause an accumulation of faeces and cause constipation. One thing to solve this problem is for mom to limit their play time and train their children and babies to go to the toilet.
Written by: Alia Adrina Asri
BSc (Hons) Nutrition
Love Earth Nutritionist