Friday 26 February 2016

Bladder Control - Getting up to Pee from the Dinner Table

When a child gets up to pee from the dinner table, some parents might presume this is a tactic to delay sitting down or to avoid eating what is offered. This is not the case. Getting up to pee happens because of the Gastro-Colic Reflex.

Whenever a person eats, the brain automatically initiates the Gastro-Colic Reflex. Gastro means stomach and Colic refers to the colon, the last part of the intestine. When food enters the stomach the brain automatically instructs the muscles in the intestine to contract and to move the variously digested contents further down through the intestine to make room for the newly ingested food.

Stool is stored in the rectum, the final part of the colon, until the person poops. The Gastro-Colic Reflex causes the poop in the rectum to be pushed lower down.

The bladder is located at the bottom of the pelvis and the rectum comes down the left side of the pelvis beside and below the bladder.

When the poop in the rectum is pushed along by the Gastro-Colic Reflex, the poop presses on the bladder. The increase in bladder pressure triggers a "bladder-is-full-signal" and this encourages the child to leave the table to pee.

Some of the children pee and poop in response to the signal but most children only pee. They likely could poop if they took the time to sit and relax, but most rush back to the dinner table.

This behaviour is frustrating for some parents and an understanding of why this happens might help some parents to be patient with this physiological behaviour.

I teach that a morning poop, great emptying, and soft stool is the goal for normal bowel health. Children who achieve this optimal pattern are much less likely to need to get up to pee at dinner. The rectum by then is emptier and the stool present is softer, and the resultant pressure on the bladder is less. 

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