Pediatric Colostomy: How to Provide Care at Home

April 26, 2021
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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One of the worst news a parent can receive is a serious medical diagnosis regarding their child. You wonder why this could be happening. You want to learn as much as you can about it to provide your baby with the best care possible. You want everyone in your household to become as familiarized as you are. One of the new realities that require some adjustments is that of a colostomy. But, what exactly, is it? And how can you provide the home care your child needs?

What is a colostomy?

A colostomy is a surgery that involves making an incision on the child’s abdomen to create what’s called a stoma. The surgeon then takes one end of the large intestine out through the stoma and connects it to a pouch that’s put in place to collect feces.

Colostomies could be temporary or long-term, and they could be necessary due to several reasons. The most common ones include:

  • Birth defects
  • Traumatic injury
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Diverticulitis
  • Colonic polyps
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Colorectal cancer

Prior to the surgery, the doctor will provide your child with instructions regarding fasting. Your baby will also have to remain in the hospital for several days after the procedure. This is necessary to monitor the child as foods are gradually reintroduced in their diet to ensure that digestion works well after the colostomy.

How to Provide Care at Home for a Child with a Colostomy

1. Become Familiar With How To Use Colostomy Bags

Your child will need to wear the colostomy pouch at all times. For digestion to work without a hitch, the pouch has to be tightly sealed against your child’s skin. If you can smell anything, it’s not sealed correctly. You’ll want to adjust it because — in addition to keeping the feces in place once digestion occurs — if fecal matter touches your child’s skin, it can cause irritation and infection.

You’ll also have to empty the pouch several times a week. A good indication that it’s time to change it is when it’s full almost to the halfway point. It’s preferable to do this first thing in the morning, since it’s when the stoma is least active.

2. Learn How To Take Care of the Stoma

It’s crucial to keep the stoma clean at all times. Wash your hands before getting started. Slowly remove the pouch, then use medical adhesive remover if your child’s abdomen is sticky. Then was the area around the stoma with warm water and soap. Gently wipe the area, but do not scrub. When you’re done, pat it dry prior to attaching a new colostomy bag. You can use stoma powder to absorb moisture — with the added benefit is that it allows the colostomy pouch to adhere better to your child’s skin.

To dispose of the used colostomy bag, clip it shut with a pouch clip, rinse it, and place it into a plastic disposable bag. The home delivery service that provides the bags can also provide the containers needed for proper disposal. Never reuse a colostomy bag.

3. Know What to Feed Your Child

Make sure your child eats mostly bland foods that are low in fiber. Steering clear of heavy creams, spices, and anything that’s fried will make it easier for your child to digest their meals. It will also prevent uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

Foods to include in your child’s diet include lactose-free products, sherbets, smoothies, applesauce, yogurt, eggs, nut butters, white breads, rice, and pasta, peeled and cooked vegetables, watermelon, honeydew, and bananas. Avoid raw vegetables and fruits that are high in fiber, such as apples and prunes. Also, avoid high-fat foods.

4. Be Aware of Limitations of Physical Activity

Exercise is important and part of a healthy lifestyle. If your child liked to swim, dance, or go on family walks before their surgery, they may continue doing them. There are swimsuits designed to conceal a colostomy bag, as well as filters that keep water from entering the pouch.

If you have a teenager who used to run and/or lift weights, they may resume those workouts only after their doctors have cleared them to do so. It’s also essential to ease back into these activities gradually. In addition, talk with your child’s doctor to see if they need an ostomy belt, which can hold the colostomy bag in place during exercise.

5. Always Have Extra Supplies

Even if you think you have enough bags, you never know when there may be a leak. Therefore, always have extra pouches, stoma powder, skin wipes, pouch clips, a hand towel, disposal bags, and a change of clothes. Also, let your family and home caregivers know where everything is stored.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care in Florida

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a loved one. That’s why our team of professionals at Care Options for Kids is here to help.

Our home health care services offer support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you or a loved one are considering pediatric home health care services in Florida, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.