When prunes don't work

Posted by ~Summer~ on July 09, 2012
in ,

Last night was one of our worst battles ever.

Nope, not between the hubby and I. Not between us and Angel either.

But the three of us vs. the poor girl's constipation.

Arggghhh. Even the sound of that word irks me.


Since Day 1 when Angel was born, she was already suffering from constipation.

No joke. We all hear about how newborns poop like 8-10 times a day. But the very first night at the hospital, she got into a crying fit that no amount of breastfeeding, burping or comforting could help. As helpless as most new parents were, we resorted to asking the midwife for help.

All we saw was her taking the thermometer despite us telling her that Angel didn't have a fever.

Then lo and behold, without so much a word, she inserted the thermometer not into our baby's mouth but anus instead.

Within two seconds, all the poop that was stuck came out and the crying stopped.

Instantly, the midwife became a savior in our eyes.

That was probably the omen of what was to come.


While our girl didn't suffer from any severe case of constipation, she would still feel it once in a while and well, it's obvious because you can tell from her eyes, her frown, her reddened face and how hard she tried to 'gek' (force it to come out). 

Thankfully for the existence of prunes, which usually loosens her hard stools, eases her pain and chases away the 'C' word before it comes back to hit her again.


Alas in the past couple of weeks, it seems to be getting from bad to worse.

The poor girl now pees in the potty just perfectly but every time she needs to poop, she runs away from the potty as if it was a monster.

She resists if you try to force her to go to the toilet, sit on the potty, carry her or even ask her to open her legs. Not even the hubby can make her because she breaks down as if it was the end of the world.

To make things worse, there is always blood in her stools. Ouch.

We see how she struggles. How she shrieks. How she moans. How she cries.

And you know what, it simply breaks my heart.


Last night, we had a 2-hour battle at midnight. My girl tried, she really did. So so so hard. She held my hands, she garnered force, she pushed as hard as she could but after 2 long gruelling hours, nothing came out.

We persuaded her to go to the bath tub so we could try use water to wash her bottom because the hubby swore that was what he did. Of course, at that moment, Angel didn't want to do anything but stand still and so we had to resort to us brute force.

Another hour in the tub. Another round of pushing, trying, moaning, shouting, crying.

To the extent the hubby commented "It's as if she's giving birth to a baby". Indeed. The way she held my hands, the way she seemed to feel the 'contractions' and pushed during those minutes, the way she whined, the way the tears fell from her face, it brought me back to 21 Nov 2009, the day I became a mum.

And gosh did I feel like a lousy one tonight.


After our futile attempts, we went back to the bedroom, lay her on the bed, distracted her with a video while trying to use a baby wipe to feel, and tickle, her anus. The hubby exclaimed "I can feel the sh**!" Just that it refused to come out.

Eventually, the girl was so tired that she fell asleep.

But after one hour, it started all over again. She woke up in pain, cried and cried while trying to force it out.

I started weeping and to some point lost my sanity and told the hubby "Shall we bring her to the doctor?" Which he refused because there is no 24-hour clinic here and the only choice was the A&E at the hospital which judging from experience, could take up to few hours of wait.

The hubby carried Angel, paced around the house, tried to soothe her and told me to go make milk.

Which I did. With my hair, my face, my heart all in a mess. I was crying so badly I couldn't even make out the powder scoop. All I was thinking was : My baby is in pain and I'm not doing anything to help her.

Thankfully, the milk did help and the three of us managed to tide through a poor night's sleep.

If every story has a happy ending, ours would be that she finally won the battle at 9am this morning. Hip hip hooray!

I was more proud of her than I was relieved. My brave little one.


Looking back, it's not like prunes is the secret formula to battling constipation. To be fair, we do let her eat green vegetables and fruits, we train her to use the potty and we let her drink plenty of water. I did some research yesterday and learnt something new.

- Constipation tends to run in the family

- It may start in infancy and remain as a lifetime pattern

- Stool retention occurs commonly between ages two and five when a child is coming to terms with independence

- If a child withholds, his rectum stretches and does not need to defecate until the stool is too big to be passed without the help of laxative or other treatment

I'm pretty sure my girl is now withholding her stools from time to time because of the fear and pain associated with it. Which is worrying.

I try my best to illustrate the cause and effect in layman's terms to her, I try to make her sit on the potty every day and even placed her favourite Winnie the Pooh bear on a 'mini potty' beside her, I talk to her, I encourage her, I let her eat a healthy diet, I make her drink water, and I swear I'll be there for her whenever she needs me.

That's all I can do, is it?

I will bring her to the nurse too but we already know what her advice will be from experience.  

Eat more prunes!

I always knew how my heart laughs and cries with her. And I felt it again last night.

Way to go my darling, let's go and stock up on more prunes tomorrow, ok?


  1. Oh boy, I'm so sorry. Both of my children have suffered from this. Good luck!
    Monica at marinobambinos.com

    1. Thanks Monica, keeping my fingers crossed too!

  2. My daughter experienced it too. Vicious cycle because she would hold in her shit, which made the constipation worse. But ever since I put her on probiotics she has not constipated!! It's a miracle I tell you! Go try it. But you must get a good brand. I gave my daughter babygaia Chewable probiotic tablets. Good luck! :)

    1. Yeah that's what I'm afraid of, turning into a vicious cycle because she seems to be holding it again. I see I see, I will try to hunt for it and hope it helps! Thanks for the tip Steph!

  3. poor baby!!!
    is she also in the midst of being potty trained? could it be that she's scared of the potty? poppy was also fine to pee in it but not poo in it for the longest time. maybe she's afraid of 'dirtying the potty' (how ironic) and the fear of that is making her hold hre poo in?

    sayang sayang mummy and angel

    1. Hi Adora, she's been using the potty before she was two, but though she scores a perfect 10/10 for pee, it's the pooing that's causing her fear. I'm not sure if she's scared of dirtying it, but she sure gives a good fight whenever the urge to poo comes and she just refused to squat down, sit on potty or even let me carry her to open her legs. Sigh. Thanks for the sweet concern, it makes me feel better at least! =)

  4. Big big hugs, I can understand as we go through this time to time with our big boy. He tends to hold in his stools if we have visitors (which is rather frequent since hubby's relatives are always coming to stay), and then it gets painful to pass and becomes a vicious cycle. Once he was stuck for almost a week and we were distraught! Seems like you're doing the best you can, but its always traumatic for the kid and the parents too!

    What has worked for us would be stool softeners, which help him to go more easily (he is now on polyethylene glycol, perhaps see if that might help? Lactulose is commonly prescribed but we find it doesn't help much). Try daily tummy massages (rub tummy in a clockwise direction) too, and watch the fibre since if there's loads of fibre it might also mean a large bulk of poop to pass (which might, erm, bung up).

    1. Hihi Jus, thanks for the tips! I'm so bad with all these new terms and it helps so much to learn from you mummies. Yeah there's not too much fibre in her diet, and I'm reducing on her rice, banana and cereal too for the time being. Will see what the doctor says when I bring her to the clinic, I hope I understand what they're talking about! =) Thanks lots!

  5. OUch. that sounds so painful and I feel your pain. It's funny how sometimes seeing shit makes mummy happy!

    Would prune juice help as well?
    Or papaya?
    Nurses tell us to just apply some vasoline during the "delivery" just to reduce friction.

    On days when things get jammed up somewhere south, I feel like grabbing forceps and pulling it out....

    Hope you don't get any more shitty days but more shit every day.

    1. Haha you know what, I was wishing for a pair of forceps the other night. Seriously. Especially when the hubby said she's like delivering a bb. They sell prune puree in small bottles here and she takes it everyday. By right it should be even better than prune juice as it's so concentrated and it says "loosens hard stools" big big on the label. You are right, I'm praying for more shit. Lol. Thanks for dropping by!

  6. Oh man, I hate feeling constipated too! I always suffer from constipation when I was young. Hope Angel is feeling all good now!

    Fang Ting

    1. It's been two days liaoz and no poo again. Uh oh. I hope it doesn't happen again. Btw thanks to SH for bringing up the dumplings, I got to eat two! Woohoo!

  7. Try eating pumpkin. My son usually have soft stools (not diarrhoea) almost immediate effect after consuming pumpkin or red dragonfruit. Possibly, I am guessing, that she is fearful of passing motion because of the pain since you mentioned there is blood. Make it a 'pleasure' business that can distract her from the thought. Hope, this helps.

    1. I see i see, cool I will go get some pumpkin then. I think so too, it's the pain that's making her scared. There's blood every single time, don't mention her, it scares me too. We try to make it a casual affair as best as we can, singing songs, reading books, watching cartoons, or just talking. Even invented a poo poo cheer. Anything is helpful now. Thanks so much for the advice!

  8. oh dear... i feel the pain... the one time my girl was constipated when she was a wee babe, i use cotton bud, dipped it in vaseline, and then coat it slightly into and around the opening to kindof "wax" it. the poop did come out thereafter amidst all the crying (pretty much like your experience of a thermometer up the butt).

    anyway nowadays experts say cut down on fiber cos it doesn't really help constipation. instead, it *might* aggravate it cos it adds bulk to the stools, making them bigger than usual and hence more difficult to pass through. so don't make too much effort adding fruits and vege into the diet. all in moderation. prune juice and stool softener might be a good idea.

    hope the problem clears up soon!

    1. Ahhh, that's something new, because all the books I read said to eat more fruits and green leafy vege. I see I see, thanks for the tip! She eats prune puree every morning, it's sold in supermarkets here and supposedly very good in softening stools. I thought of using vaseline too but my tube was expired when I checked that night. Lol. It was better when she was a bb because she couldn't retaliate, now it's like fighting a war with her and it makes you devastated to see her fighting amidst all the pain and tears. Well, I hope it gets resolved soon too, thanks Ming!

  9. Hi Summer, I can so identify with you because Sophie had an almost one year long battle with constipation. Yes, that was no typo mistake. One whole year. Even till today when she poos, there is still blood as she holds it in for as long as she can and by the time she goes, it's so hard... I would say it's mainly physiological for her as it started with constipation due to her FM. It got better after we switched but still she refused to go. It was also the time when we introduced the potty to her. We tried so many methods, had sucesses with a few but most of the times we went back to ground zero. These days,we give her lactulose and probiotics daily. Here's my entry about it. http://ajugglingmom.com/2011/08/when-shi-doesnt-happen/

    1. Hihi Susan, whoa it must have been tough on you for that year. I see I see, thanks for all the precious tips, they sure will come in handy! Sophie is a brave girl to endure it all this time, I'm sure the blood and the pain must have been an ordeal for them. Well, guess many of our kids go through it and I'm so glad I'm learning so much from you mummies, especially when I'm in a land when the medicine labels are all in a different language and we always don't know what to buy. So, from the bottom of my heart, thanks so much!

  10. Hi, I read your post in your girl's constipation. My son too, and he is 6 now. It was so bad that he had to try pooing every 15 mins but can't get it out and it last for like 2 days. This happens every other month and gave us lots of misery. We couldnt go anywhere for that 2 days as he would be crying in pain and going to the toilet so often. Till last year, I had enough, and I increased his fruits n veg intake, gave him lots of water abd yoghurt. It had helped him since. Also, I make sure he goes to the loo for bog bisness every day so tt the stools don't get harden which will make it more difficult to push the next day.

    1. Hihi! Thanks for popping by and giving the advice, yes I'm giving my girl lots of water and yoghurt too. The only problem is she doesn't like to go to the loo or potty to try to do her big business because she seems to be scared of it and it's challenging trying to cultivate the habit. I sure hope I can succeed soon! I'm so glad your misery is over! =)

  11. Hi hi Summer,

    totally understand how you feel.. my daughter 16 months also have the same problem despite of more water, veggie.. how I started her on yougurt, it seems that her stools are softer and she doesn't need much effort to push them out now.

    Also drinking formula milk contribute to constipation, drink more water to counter balance this, i guess!

    All the best!

  12. http://www.samitivejhospitals.com/healtharticle_detail/constipation_825/en

    I hope this helps!

  13. hi guys i have a 2 year old son but recently she had constipation problem he seems pretty lethergic and easily agitated. i got so worried when he was constipated on the 3rd day so i sent him to the doc to see what's wrong he said might be lack of fibre or maybe water too but i want a second opinion so i went to my parents they recommended me formulas with prebiotics
    any of you have recommendation please do let me know as i dont want to give random milk formulas to my DS


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