Does your baby grunt and squirm when you think they are trying to poop? Your baby may even cry too. Your baby is not alone in this. There is a condition that affects many babies known as Grunting Baby Syndrome or to use its medical name, Infant Dyschezia.
This common condition is usually of no concern. When your baby squirms and grunts, it doesn’t mean that they are in pain, especially when they do pass their stools and they are nice and soft. If stools are hard or frequently inconsistent then this is more likely to be constipation. You may find it useful to check out my latest article regarding constipation in babies.
Why does it happen?
The reason why babies struggle to poop is because it takes a lot of coordination between our brain, muscles and pelvic floor. The problem is that your baby has an uncontrolled stooling reflex and the muscles by the anus do not relax at the proper time so your baby pushes hard with the diaphragm and the tummy muscles, while holding the anus tightly closed. They will do this over and over again without results, hence the squirming and the grunting. Eventually, usually within 10 minutes or so, the muscles will relax with baby’s effort and the poop comes. Your baby may even use crying to help create pressure in the tummy so when they do cry it is unlikely due to pain. It is more likely to help the poop flow a bit easier and perhaps a little frustration too.
Babies need to learn to poop efficiently and this can take a little time but eventually it will happen. As the baby’s digestive system matures, it will begin to work more efficiently. Also, the baby’s brain to body communication needs to mature too.
How to help your baby…
Baby massage is a wonderful way of helping your baby through Grunting Baby Syndrome as it stimulates the bowel, relaxes muscles but it also helps baby’s brain to body communication through myelination. It is the development of the myelin of the nerve endings that lets messages go from the body to the brain. When these nerve endings are coated efficiently, the messages get through quicker and the body can react. You can check out my top tummy massage tips here.
Another way of helping your baby is to offer a comforting and reassuring touch. By just placing your hands on their tummy and smiling at your baby, it lets him know that he is safe and he is much more likely to relax.
What should I not do?
Try to refrain from rectal stimulation. I often hear parents recommending using a wet wipe around their baby’s anus or even using a rectal thermometer. Although it may help the baby poop, you will be delaying their learning process. It can in fact impede the learning and your baby may struggle to poop by themselves for much longer.
Hopefully you will have felt reassured with this article. Grunting baby syndrome or Infant Dyschezia is not constipation but a developmental matter which will resolve in time.
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