In the first of a series of blogs for ERIC, Sarah, whose 5 year old daughter struggles with chronic constipation, explains why she's so keen to reach out to others by sharing her family's story and decrease the taboo and blame culture which can surround poo problems. 

Sarah Thompson with children

My hopes for the blog

Despite my life being ruled by my daughter’s bowel movements, I have been surprised by the limited support available to myself and my daughter, and I know that many others are experiencing the same problems. For that reason I decided to start this blog to reach out to other parents or carers whose lives are dominated by the same topic and share my story. This sounds pretty melodramatic but read on and perhaps you will see why I’ve described it in this way. I hope that in some way it will be comforting or reassuring for others to know that there are many of us in the same boat, and I hope therefore also useful if I share certain experiences, tips or strategies or, failing that, entertaining stories. Sometimes, the only thing left to do is to laugh!

Our poo palaver 

Before I had my children, poo was something that I didn’t give a huge amount of thought to. This all changed when my daughter turned one. Since then, I have spent hours and hours talking about it, encouraging it, applauding it, touching it (too much information?!) and thinking about it far more often that I could ever have imagined. Put simply, I have become a poo bore.

Put simply I have become a poo bore

Bunged up baby

Until she was approximately twelve months old, I didn't need to pay much notice to my daughter's bowel movements (unless they’d exploded up her back, down her leg or all over the Jumperoo!). Shortly after her first birthday she began displaying behaviours that turned out to be part of the first signs of constipation. We'd often find her in the press up/plank position or casually leaning against a table with her legs together and standing on her tiptoes. To my constipation/ withholding novice self, these initially seemed mildly comical, albeit unusual…

Baby playing with train  Her bowel movements weren't a problem until she was 12 months old 

However, I soon noticed that these were also related to her toileting habits and that they often came hand in hand with her deliberately banging her head against the wall, not eating much at all and having an unusually short temper. They were, in fact, typical withholding behaviours, and they signalled the beginning of a long and sometimes emotional journey.

What to expect from me

As I write this, three and a half years on, it feels simultaneously as if a lot and at the same time nothing has changed. We have certainly made progress but things are far from perfect. Only this morning I had to rinse out yet another pair of knickers - a stark reminder that we have a way to go before I can move onto more interesting and appealing topics of conversation! In the meantime I hope to share more of our journey via this blog, along with advice, helpful hints and tips.

Clothes line

Take action if you haven’t already

For those of you able to relate to any of this but who haven’t yet sought any advice, I would urge you to check out ERIC's resources on constipation, visit your GP and also give the ERIC helpline call as soon as you are able. This was something we only discovered later on and I wish I had known about it sooner.