Belly button is the baby’s most cherished body part. This could be because it is the proof of connection with their biological mothers even before they were born. As a child, it was such a happy moment when my mom used to say that I was fed with all nutritious food through the tube which went from my belly button and connected my mother dear. Many kids actually keep rubbing their belly button while sleeping – maybe it would give them a sense of protection as if they are safe inside the mother’s womb!
Soon after birth, any normal healthy person starts the intake of food and fluids through mouth. However some babies and even elders end up having swallowing difficulties caused due to neurological and gastrointestinal (digestive system) disorders. Some people might end up breathing in food particles which is very dangerous and could cause death. Such patients will need tubes to be inserted from belly buttons in order to intake food. This medical procedure of creating an opening in the belly button and inserting a tube through it to the stomach for the purpose of feeding food and fluids is known as gastrostomy. A balloon or plastic cap inside the stomach holds the tube in place and prevents leakage.
Gastrostomy can be achieved through surgery. Scars and post procedure discomforts might leave the child in unstable state for few days. To top it all, it is the most sad sight to watch the kid with the tube inserted and restricted movements and sore. Once the area has settled down, the child will probably get used to it and will hardly notice the tube. The gastrostomy is used straightaway for medicines and a few hours after the operation, the first feeding will be done via the device. Unfortunately the baby cannot taste the food as it is fed directly into the stomach. Caring for the gastrostomy device at home requires pratice and patience. Proper hygiene should be taken before securing the tube to the area, valve need to be closed after the feeding is completed and before bathing.
Some of the complications of this procedure are – breakdown of the G-tube, vomiting, diarrhoea, tube blockage and leaking in the gastrostomy tube. These problems need timely medical attention and treatment. It is indeed a trauma for the parents to experience the child growing with a tube hanging from its stomach. Several conditions do get cured over a considerable period of time and the tube will thus be removed enabling the child’s oral nutritions. We need to understand the difficulties of such children, their families and be compassionate towards them. A word of kindness and support shown towards people who are in the midst of such tough situations brings back the trust towards humanity and helps them fight the battle with added perseverance.