As promised, here are my tips for better pooping. For people with chronic constipation, the thought of simply going to the bathroom, sitting down and eliminating waste, seems like a fairytale. Many of my patients agonize over this simple task, especially when not being able to go leads to belly aches and severe pain. These tips aren’t a miracle cure, but they can help to get things started in the right direction.
First, timing is important. The digestive tract is most active shortly after eating or drinking. This is due to some thing called the gastrocolic reflex. When food moves from the stomach to the small intestines, this reflex causes the entire colon (large intestine) to increases its activity. There is some indication that larger meals, warm liquids or meals containing fat may have a greater impact on this reflex. Making sure you have time to use the potty shortly after a meal (20-40 minutes) can be helpful. This can be difficult in our hectic life style, where it is common to skip breakfast or “eat on the run”. Establishing the habit of having time to use the bathroom after meals is important, especially for young kids, who are often eager to get back to playing and may ignore the urge.
Second, positioning is important. It is almost impossible to poop standing up. The body is designed to keep the bowels closed during standing. Sitting helps some, but squatting is actually the best. I am a big fan of the squatty potty.
Also remember, little bottoms need a little seat. For small children, a toilet seat insert and a step stool are helpful.
Third, Take Time and Breathe. Slow, deep breathing helps to stimulate the colon and relaxes the muscles that keep the colon closed. Ideally, you should not have to push or strain. But, if you do have to push to get things started, don’t hold your breath. Holding your breath triggers the pelvic floor muscles to contract and closes the rectum. The belly should stay soft and gently blowing out or exhaling can keep the breath moving. A pelvic physical therapist can help teach proper muscle control and breathing patterns to make sure the pelvic floor muscles stay relaxed to allow for easier bowel movements
Last, gentle massage in a down the left hand side of the belly can help to stimulate a sluggish colon. For massage, light and slow works best. Starting at the bottom of the left rib cage slowly stroke downward toward the pelvic bone. Each stroke should take about 3-5 seconds to complete.
Remember, the colon is a slow learner. Be patient! The more consistent you are, the better the colon will be at doing its job.
Love and Peace,