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Back to School


Article by Dr. Laura Ross

Partner Content

Going back to school can come with some restroom habit challenges for students and teachers. School days are often set up with few breaks and the breaks available are often short in duration. It’s important to still try to maintain healthy habits even with these constraints. Here are some tips!

A healthy bladder fills every 2-4 hours. That means making at least 2 trips to the bathroom during the school day. Teachers and students often hold their bladder all day long. This can lead to changes in the signals between the bladder and brain and the ability to feel the urge to go. On the other hand, we should also try to go only when the urge is present rather than frequently or “just in case.” Going too often can mix up the signals to the bladder, possibly leading to greater urgency to go.

Staying well hydrated during the school day can help with the signals for when to go. A healthy amount of water is around 60-80 oz per day depending on body weight and activity level. It’s important to take in that water throughout the day, and not just try to get it all in at night.

Healthy urination involves a full relaxation of the pelvic floor, so avoid that “power pee” in between classes. Take a breath, make your belly soft and let it flow.

Bowel movements at school can be a challenge due to time and privacy. It might be better to try and have that bowel movement at home before school. Bowels love a schedule, so try to have one at relatively the same time each day. We all have a reflex in our bowels where things “move” about 30-60 minutes after eating. So if you can rise a little earlier for coffee and/or breakfast this can help with an early BM.

Hydration helps to make bowel movements smooth. As you’re working on drinking water for healthy bladder function, you’re also helping your bowel movements. If you find yourself having to take a BM at school without your trusty squatty potty (if you don’t have one at home, you should!), try to lean forward and lift your heels up to bring your knees higher.

Lastly, please advocate to your administrators to support healthy bladder and bowel habits. Teachers have a hard job, and worrying about having the proper time for toileting should not be on their minds. We are also setting students up for dysfunctional voiding habits early in their school career by making it harder to use the restroom. De-stigmatizing bathroom use as common, normal and healthy is a great start. It’s also important to leave enough time during the school day for healthy toileting.

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