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Mommy My Tummy!! Dealing with Stomach Distress

Nobody likes a tummy ache. How does a mother know when to take it seriously?

"Joshua keeps complaining about his stomach. I don't know if he is really sick or if he's upset about his lost kitty. How seriously should I take his complaints? What can I do to make him feel better?"

Hi, I’m Madia. I have eleven children and one of the greatest privileges of my life was to know Dr. Leila Denmark. She practiced pediatrics for over 75 years and was my mentor for 32 years.

I can hardly express how much she helped me, both with the children’s medical issues and family life challenges. I would love to share what she taught me with you.


Stop, Look and Listen

Potty Stop

When my little ones would complain of a stomach ache and there were no other obvious symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea, I would always ask them if they needed to go to the bathroom. Often a quick trip to the bathroom took care of the problem.


If they persisted in their complaint, I tried to respond very calmly, but kept an eye on their behavior. Typically, if mom panics, they will too and getting more tense does not help stomach pain. Also actions can speak louder than words when it comes to young children. Observe how your child is behaving. Are they acting normally? Are they running around playing or crouched in the corner holding their stomach? Do they seem emotionally upset?

*If you are convinced that your child is upset about something, then it is time for comfort, reassurance and prayer with them. It may be a good time to evaluate the atmosphere of your home.


If it's clear from their behavior that something is physically wrong, then begin to ask questions such as : "When did your tummy start hurting? Where does it hurt? Have you eaten or swallowed anything that Mommy doesn't know about? Have you been spinning around on the swing? (motion sickness) Do you have any idea why your tummy is hurting?'

If it appears that he or she has eaten something unusual, call your local poison control center immediately and follow their instructions.

If he hasn’t swallowed anything requiring a medical emergency, check him for appendicitis.


1. Lay your child on his back.

2. Distract him with a toy.

3. Press his stomach between the right hipbone and navel. Don't ask the child if this or that hurts. Children will normally answer “Yes” whether they feel pain or not. It's important to distract him while pressing his abdomen.

4. If he experiences sharp pain, he’ll react to pressure in an obvious way. Sharp pain in this region indicates acute appendicitis. Take him immediately to the emergency room.

Note: if there is any severe pain accompanied by bloody stools and/or a lot of red blood from the anus it is also an emergency. Go directly to the hospital.

If appendicitis is ruled out, and the stomach pain is mild, a dose of milk of magnesia may be all he needs.

Dosage for Milk of Magnesia

0–6 months: 1/2 teaspoon

6 months–6 years: One teaspoon

6 years–adult: Two teaspoons

Note: Make sure you shake the bottle before measuring out the medicine.

Dr. Denmark recommended milk of magnesia for a variety of intestinal ailments. Its laxative effect helps the digestive tract recover. For intestinal gas, a dose of milk of magnesia followed by a drink of warm water often brings relief. I often instructed the children to lie on their stomachs after taking the medicine. That position seems to relieve stomach pain.

On Dr. Denmark’s recommended diet, constipation shouldn’t be a problem, but if it occurs, milk of magnesia is again recommended. When a child’s stools are slightly abnormal (unusual consistency and strong odor) or he has mild diarrhea, give him milk of magnesia and watch for other symptoms.

A fever may indicate the need for an antibiotic. With vomiting and persistent diarrhea, he may have food poisoning or an intestinal infection. Dr. Denmark's enemas are highly effective in treating persistent vomiting. (refer to Dr. Denmark Said It! for instructions on enemas)

Should the pain continue, check periodically for appendicitis and consult a physician.


From Madia: "We discovered early on that Susanna has a tendency to have motion sickness. Our family went camping when she was an infant. Everyone seemed healthy and excited as we pulled out of the driveway. Later our 15-passenger van began winding around mountain roads and poor Susanna became progressively more fretful and began vomiting. The possibility of motion sickness did not occur to me until we arrived at the campsite After we set up camp and her world stopped spinning, the nausea sub-sided and Susanna’s cheerful little smiles reappeared. Now, years later, she always gets a dose of Dramamine before long trips. It makes her sleepy, but much more comfortable."

From Dr. Denmark: "Stomachs are very sensitive and are designed by the Creator to vomit easily as a form of protection against poison and bacteria. If a child has frequent stomachaches, observe him carefully over a period of time. Investigate the kinds of food he eats, eating patterns, the time of day stomachaches occur, and the environment and emotional state of the child. Sometimes children complain of stomachaches in an effort to gain attention or because they are upset about something."


For more tips on treating common childhood illnesses, read Dr. Denmark Said It!

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