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Infant Dyschezia:
What it Means, What to Do

infant dyschezia
{Photo by chey n}
If your newborn screams before having a soft bowel movement, he may be suffering from infant dyschezia. (Pronounced dye-cheese-e-a.)

Fortunately, is not as scary is it sounds. In this form of self-limited constipation, the baby's body is learning to poop. It is not the result of a functioning body that can't poop.

After crying for 20 or 30 minutes, the newborn turns red in the face, the screams in pain, and then defecates. The stools are soft and there's no blood.

This nightmare can occur several times every day, leaving baby exhausted and parents traumatized. The main difference between regular constipation and infant dyschezia is that, in dyschezia, the stools are soft.

A Doctor's Diagnosis

When diagnosing this, your doctor will look for 10 minutes or more of straining and crying before successfully passing a soft stool. He will also want to see a healthy baby, under 6 months old, who is growing and sleeping well, not spitting up a lot, and developmentally normal (check out these milestones).

infant constipation 3
Infant dyschezia occurs when the baby has not coordinated the increase in abdominal pressure with pelvic floor relaxation. These two events must be coordinated together in order too have a bowel movement.

The crying is your baby's attempt to create inter-abdominal pressure as he learns to bear down more effectively to poop successfully.

If your doctor does diagnose infant dyschezia, the best thing you can do is wait. It lasts no more than a week or two and resolves spontaneously.

A study published in the Journal of Family Practice in August 2002 confirmed that attempting to treat with suppositories or stimulation with a rectal thermometer does not help in relieving dyschezia.

Your baby will need to learn how to coordinate these muscles on his own. It will be difficult, but understand he is simply learning how to use this newly-functioning body and is not really in pain. His cries are an expression of his attempt to "bear down" and will subside once he learns how.


If you feel your infant may have dyschezia, see your doctor.

Even if the only remedy is waiting, knowing he knows can give you peace of mind to suffer through the crying until your baby's system starts working naturally.

This information was obtained from a medical report written by Dr. Paul Hyman, Chief Professor of Pediatrics at Kansas University Medical Center and was published in the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders.

All the photos on this page can be found at and were used
according to licensing requirements.

Return to the Main Infant Health Section from Dyschezia.

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