There are so many things that you obsess over when you are in the NICU. Is my baby breathing ok? Is their heart rate OK? Are they gaining weight? Are they maintaining their own body temperature? Are they digesting food? Do they have a brain bleed? Have they developed NEC? And so on and so on.
When you bring your preemie home, there is a whole new list of things to worry about. One of the ones my preemie and I really struggled with was constipation.
There are a number of reasons preemie’s struggle with constipation:
- As preemie’s often need supplemental nutrition there is a good chance you ware giving your baby at least one bottle a day with high calorie formula. While this is great for helping your baby to grow, it can often be hard to digest.
- Many preemie’s also have vitamin and iron supplements added to one bottle a day. Just with the calorie rich bottles, these are great for every part of your preemie, except for their digestions.
- A preemie’s gut may just not function as well as a term baby.
All of that can lead to a pretty intense battle with constipation.
I was deep in this battle for the first seven years of Sam’s life. We were under the care of the gastroenterologist who ran EVERY test known to man:
- Swallow Study
- Barium Enema
- Upper GI study
- Lower GI Study
- Rectum Biopsy
We also restricted Sam’s intake of dairy and gluten for so many years, that when Sam would see a baguette he would coo “mmmmmm…. Gluten!”.
With all of the things we tried, these are the few things we found that worked:
- Miralax: Yes, the dreaded Miralax. For 4 years, Sam got a ¼ capful a day in his morning juice for a few years. Is Miralax for everyone? Nope. Did it help us? Yep.
- Senna: As Sam got older, we added in Senna (as prescribed by a GI doctor) to Sam’s morning juice. This one really helped as Senna stimulates the colon to constrict pushing out the waste
- Acupuncture, Probiotics and Herbs: If you are able to find (and afford) a good acupuncturist and herbalist – do it. We really felt that Sam’s weekly appointment was what moved us from needing daily Miralax only using it on an as needed basis.
- Suppositories: When all else fails, and you think that the constipation is getting bad, don’t wait. Give a suppository before things get out of control.
Of course – all of this is just one person’s opinion. I am not a doctor. I am just someone who dealt with this for years, and finally came out the other side. (It helps that Sam loves veggies… and carbs and cheese)