HOW DO YOU HELP A BABY WITH CONSTIPATION ?
One of the most common dilemas I see with new moms is how to solve the problem of baby constipation. Some people suggest that mothers who breastfeed should remove dairy from their diet or add papaya to their diet. Recently I spoke with an experienced doula on the topic and she advised moms to just be patient since sometimes constipation is a sign of developmental change in baby’s digestive system. She mentioned that it is common for babies to have constipation around the three month age. I recommend that mothers learn a few hands-on exercises to practice at home when baby has constipation. These hands-on skills help improve circulation and stretch the muscles surrounding the area of pelvis and hips. Since constipation my bring tightness in the muscles around the abdomen and hips, movements to improve circulation and stretch the muscles in these areas may provide some relief. And of course, always check with your pediatrician when you have concerns. Try the following three baby exercise moves, in the order presented, to relieve infant constipation discomfort and improve digestion and elimination.
BABY EXERCISE #1: MASSAGE THE ABDOMEN
Begin with baby on her back. Gently rub your hands along her abdomen in long strokes moving from her pelvis toward her head. Take your time and brush slowly! This can be done with baby clothed or with her bare skin. Brush with a bit of pressure, it your touch is too light you will effect only her skin. With just a bit more pressure this massage stimulates both her lymphatic system and nervous system. The nervous system will feel which muscles are being tightly contracted and then relax them. Your constipated baby may be sensitive to the touch if she is experiencing internal discomfort, so gage your pressure by her response. Lighten your pressure if she looks uncomfortable with your touch.
BABY EXERCISE #2: BEND AND STRETCH THE LEGS
While baby is on her back, take one leg and bend it in toward the chest and then extend it toward the straight leg position. Repeat this several times with one leg and then repeat several times with the other leg. The hand that is holding her leg should gently squeeze the leg so she feels the movements more clearly. This baby exercise will gently stimulate circulation and stretch muscles in the lower abdominal and hip area. A baby with constipation will benefit from this exercise which may help release gas.
BABY EXERCISE #3: TUMMY-TIME WITH THIGH LIFTS
Put baby in tummy-time with a favorite toy as in the above photo. The position of tummy-time gently stretches the abdominal area. Place one hand under her thigh and close to her knee. Place the other hand on her ankle. Gently lift her thigh off of the floor just a little bit. Make sure the hand near the knee is doing the lifting and move very slowly, pausing for a moment before returning to the starting position. This elongates the muscles in the front of baby’s hip joint and abdominal area.