If your doctor tells you that your infant is suffering from grunting baby syndrome, you might have to refrain from laughing out loud. While your baby certainly has been grunting a lot, you probably didn’t expect his diagnosis to be so simple. Unfortunately, the condition with the silly name is probably causing your infant scores of discomfort and pain. Grunting baby syndrome (GBS) is an issue of coordination. Babies with GBS tend to push especially hard and grunt during bowel movements. Many parents confuse it with constipation, but a GBS diagnosis signifies something different. It means that your baby has not yet figured out how to relax his pelvic floor while also using abdominal pressure to move his poop through his system. His bowel movements might be solid and healthy, but your baby needs to learn how to push.
Many parents solve this problem by providing anal stimulation per their doctor’s recommendation. If you follow this advice, there’s a good chance your baby will be able to relieve himself right away. Many experts suggest using an anal thermometer or cotton ball to move things along. While this solution will certainly provide immediately relief, it might have a negative long-term side effect. The only true cure for grunting baby syndrome is for your baby to learn how to relax his anus while pushing with his abdomen. Stimulation only delays that realization, and for a while your baby will require stimulation every time.
Even if your doctor suggests stimulation, the only true way your baby will learn to poop on his or her own will be trial and error. It’s difficult to watch your baby squirm in pain from the ineffective pushing. His or her face will turn bright red, they’ll grunt loudly, and they might eventually cry when they realize their efforts are futile. However, they’ll eventually reach a point when they can push on their own and produce a bowel movement just like the rest of us.
Grunting baby syndrome is not to be confused with constipation. Your baby’s system is effectively producing excrement, but he or she has not yet figured out how to move it through. Stimulation works in the moment, but letting your baby figure it out alone is the best way you can cure the condition quickly and effectively. Watching your baby struggle might be difficult, but remember that it’ll be worth it in the end.
Source: Ezzie Hutchinson et al: Constipation and the Pelvic Floor. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology Volume 7 Issue 185 April 2010