Bedwetting and staying dry at night. For some it happens quickly and without much worry or thought. Others struggle for years. It seems this struggle is very common, especially among children with trauma history. Finally I’ve discovered some information that helped my son stay dry at night. It worked so well I wanted to share in the hopes it will help others.
Bedwetting is a big issue. Not only does it create a lot of extra work for parents, but it really damages a child’s confidence. The saddest part is that sometimes the kids that are already struggling, those with anxiety issues and trauma history, also struggle with the stigma of bedwetting.
The problem is that bedwetting is labeled as a baby issue and often results in a great deal of teasing and taunting from peers and siblings. Even if others don’t know, simply having to wear a diaper at night equates to a baby in children’s minds (let’s not tell them what happens to adults in their later years!), and can be emotionally crushing and devastating to an already fragile child.
My son, who struggled so much with bedwetting, told me repeatedly that his body was broken as tears streamed down his face. My youngest who already has PTSD and Developmental Trauma Disorder found bedwetting to be one of the few issues that really crushed him. No matter how hard he tried, he simply could not stay dry at night.
We are blessed with an amazing family doctor. My son has an intense medical trauma history and was terrified of medical professionals. She single-handedly helped him overcome his fear of the medical profession. She is truly a miracle.
Over the years we had discussed his toileting struggles since he also took much longer than normal to potty train. We had agreed that his toileting issues were not urgent and that the focus instead needed to be on letting him work his way through his trauma therapy, heal, grow, and mature. Once he was healing and feeling safe, if toileting was still a concern we could talk more.
Recently, since it was bothering him so much, he was getting well into the age range where it shouldn’t have been a concern anymore, and we were doing so well with his trauma therapy, I decided it was time to talk more.
After doing an abdominal exam she explained that the cause was likely chronic constipation.
I must have looked very confused. He was peeing the bed. Poop wasn’t part of the issue and the child ate a very healthy diet.
Then she explained.
Children (and adults) with struggles like my son’s: anxiety, trauma, panic attacks, etc., often struggle with chronic constipation.
The doctor showed me how to feel his stomach and notice the hardness of the constipation in his bowels. It was this long, hard, lumpy area.
I started rambling, “He drinks lots of water, vegetables, and whole grain breads. Sometimes he struggled to go, but most days he seemed OK.”
She stopped me. This wasn’t about his diet. It was about the way his mental health struggles affected his physical being.
The thing is, with chronic constipation in children it can cause their bowels to become enlarged. It then presses on the bladder causing the child to lose control at night. It can also cause the child to feel the need when they don’t need to go, or to be unable to pass urine even when the bladder is full, or make them need to go frequently.
All of this was starting to make sense.
She sent us home with a very gentle, safe laxative and a warning. It would take time to get him over the constipation and for his bowels to return to a normal size. She said to expect it to take 2 to 3 months.
And she was right.
It took almost the full 3 months but my son is now dry at night!
We continue to monitor his bowel movements carefully, his body will take some time to fully heal, but it’s been two weeks now without any accidents (we never made it more than 1 night in the past).
Best of all my little man doesn’t feel like his body is broken anymore. His confidence is blossoming!
If you have a child that struggles with bedwetting and anxiety or trauma disorders, ask your doctor about chronic constipation. The solution was not an overnight miracle, it took consistency and time, but it did work!