Health Library
Enema Administration

How is an Enema Administered?

An enema pushes fluid into the rectum to clear out stool or waste matter with it when it exits the lower bowel.

Illustration of a colon

Equipment and Needed Supplies

  1. A clean enema bag with tubing (buy this at any pharmacy)
  2. Water soluble lubricant
  3. Thick towel
  4. Small measuring container
  5. All enema ingredients as ordered by your healthcare provider

Preparing to Give the Enema

  • Explain to your child why you are giving the enema. You may tell an older child that they may feel like they must go to the bathroom while the solution is flowing in. If this happens, have the child take deep breaths and breathe out through their mouth to help ease this feeling.
  • Place a towel on the bed or floor under your child's hips. If you can, give the enema on a tiled floor instead of on carpet.
  • Have the child lie on their left side with their right leg flexed toward their chest.

How to Give the Enema

  1. Clamp the tubing to stop liquid from getting out. Remove cap from tip.
  2. Lubricate the tip of the rectal tube.
  3. Pour the exact amount of solution as ordered by your healthcare provider into the bag.
  4. Unclamp the tubing and allow a small amount of the solution to run into a measuring container.
  5. Test the temp of the solution by dripping a few drops on your wrist. It should feel warm, not hot.
  6. Clamp the tubing and gently put the open end of the tubing into your child's rectum (butt) (infants = 1 to 1.5 inches; an older child = 2 to 3 inches; no more than 4 inches) at an angle pointing towards the navel. If there is any resistance when putting in the tip or the solution, with care take out the tip and try another angle. If you still have trouble, stop the process and call your doctor.
  7. Hold the enema bag about 12 to 15 inches above the child's hips. Allow solution to run into the rectum slowly (about 100 ml/min). If the solution starts to run out of the rectum, briefly squeeze the child's buttocks firmly together around the tube.
  8. If cramping occurs (an older child may tell you it hurts, a baby will draw up their knees and their cry will be higher pitched) shut off the flow of solution for a few seconds by pinching the tubing together, then restart the enema when the child is feeling better.
  9. When all the solution has run in, clamp the tubing and remove it from the child's rectum.
  10. Ask your child to remain in the same position until the urge to have a bowel movement is strong (usually within two to five minutes).

After the Enema

Have your child sit on the toilet or potty chair to let go of the solution. Check what type of bowel movement they had (hard, formed or runny) and the amount of solution that comes out.

Most of the enema solution should come out.

Call Your Child's Doctor If:

  • The enema did not make your child have a bowel movement.
  • The solution from the enema did not come out.
  • The child has pain that does not stop once the enema is done and after the bowel movement.
  • There is blood in the bowel movement.
  • The child keeps having a large volume of liquid stool after the enema.
  • The child has vomiting, changes in how alert they are, or seizures.

Last Updated 04/2024

Reviewed By Allie Caja, RN II

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