An open letter to mums: 5 ways your child’s digestive health impacts you

Parents are unknowingly affected by their kids’ digestive health. Read on to find out what some of the possible impacts could be.

Dear mums,

We know that your heart breaks a little each time your child cries because of tummy aches or throws tantrums at the thought of having to go to the toilet. You do everything you can to protect your child from this pain because you know that if your child suffers from frequent digestive health issues, it could negatively impact their concentration, mood, and overall development.

However, have you ever taken a moment and evaluated how your child’s poor digestive health impacts you, the quality of your family life and most importantly your relationship with your child?

If your child is in distress, it is likely to create parental anxiety and stress, which can negatively impact the relationship between you and your little one. To be able to deal with these emotions, you need to first be able to recognise the impact. If your child is suffering from poor digestive health, these are what you need watch out for:

1. You don’t get enough sleep

If your child is unable to sleep well because their tummy hurts then chances are, you are also up all night comforting them, trying to get them back to sleep. While you may be able to settle the problem temporarily and put them back to bed, you might still end up being sleep deprived.

Some of you could also be subconsciously anticipating the midnight cries or staying up later than usual, worrying about your child’s health. What you need to know is that the lack of sleep could actually leave you feeling tired, irritable and less alert. This may impact the way you engage with your child.

In fact, studies have shown that there is a relationship between colic and insecure mother-child bonding1. The study found that in cases where babies had colic, a majority of the mums had an insecure attachment style with their child.

2. Your immunity level goes down

When sleep is interrupted or lacking, it could lead to a negative impact on your health which would include weight gain, restlessness, fatigue, headaches, lowered immunity and more2.

Reduced immunity could make you more susceptible to viruses and increase the possibility of your child catching the bug from you.

3. Your stamina is affected

If you need to keep up with your kids – running with them, playing with them, feeding them – you need to have strong reserves of stamina. However, if your child has been up crying all night and day because of his tummy discomfort, or because he has been unable to pass motion, then chances are that you have not slept a wink and are exhausted.

Such long nights at frequent intervals mean that your stamina suffers significantly. You might find yourself short of breath even though you walk the same distance from your home to the MRT every day – this isn’t because your fitness levels have dropped, but because the lack of sleep has contributed to a drop in the stamina level.

Athletes must get good sleep in order to give their best performance in the field. The same goes for mummies!

4. Your productivity at work suffers

You know what is worse than waking up on the wrong side of the bed? Not being able to wake up at all because you didn’t get to sleep a wink all night!

When your child has digestive issues, you will often be tired, less attentive and have significantly lowered concentration. If your child’s problem is chronic, then days where you feel like this are likely to be more frequent.

This could lead to poor work behaviour – such as missed deadlines, and unintentional mistakes – which could all create problems of their own.

5. The quality of family life goes down

Whether it is with your husband, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother or any relative, you could find yourself a little more agitated with them than usual because of the lack of sleep and general irritability. Sleep deprivation also ends up reducing your husband’s libido3, something that may cause a strain on the relationship.

In fact, studies have shown that childhood colic impacts the child even when he reaches a school-going age4. Mothers of such children often suffer from depression, and the parents are more concerned about the health of their child than other parents.

However, most importantly, your patience level could be on thin ice and break at any time especially with your own child. Lack of sleep, decreased patience and higher irritability definitely impacts the way you interact with your child – as mentioned above, research has shown that mums whose children have colic tend to have less than optimal interaction with their child.

Mums, you will be short-tempered with them, then feel guilty about not being loving enough and it will lead to higher anxiety and stress levels.

So to ensure your child’s comfort and sleep as well your own well-being, it is important that you address your child’s digestive health.  

Some tips from us:

  1. Making sure that your child takes the right amount of fluids at the right time of the day. 
  2. Monitoring your child’s stools on a regular basis to pre-empt problems. 
  3. Ensuring that your child has an adequate intake of good bacteria by including foods such as yoghurt, cheese, and cultured milk drinks. 
  4. Ensuring that your child’s diet includes prebiotics – which are dietary fibres that are not digested by the human body but help in making the stools softer and bulkier. Not all prebiotics are the same, though. One of the most researched prebiotic blends is GOS/lcFOS (9:1). The health benefits of 9:1 blend of short chain galacto-oligosaccharides with long chain Fructo-oligosaccharides have been validated by over 20 years of research. It makes stools softer and provides an environment where good bacteria can thrive, thereby crowding out harmful bacteria. 

If you follow these steps, chances are that your child will have good digestive health which would mean reduced anxiety and stress levels for you, thus, improving the quality of life for your entire family.

 


References

  1. Akman I, Kusçu K, Ozdemir N, Yurdakul Z, Solakoglu M, Orhan L, Karabekiroglu A, Ozek E. Mothers’ postpartum psychological adjustment and infantile colic. Arch Dis Child 2006;91:417-9
  2. Besedovsky L, Lange T, Born J. Sleep and immune function. Pflügers Archiv - European Journal of Physiology 2012;463, Issue 1:121–137
  3. Leproult R, Van Cauter E. Effect of 1 Week of Sleep Restriction on Testosterone Levels in Young Healthy Men. JAMA2011;305(21):2173-2174
  4. Brown M, Heine RG, Jordan B. Health and well-being in school-age children following persistent crying in infancy. J Paediatr Child Health 2009;45:254-62