For the first couple of days after the birth, your baby will pass meconium. Meconium is greeny-black in color and has a sticky, tar-like texture. It is made up of mucus, amniotic fluid, and everything your baby has ingested while the baby was in your womb (uterus). Meconium may be difficult to wipe off your baby’s tiny bottom, but its appearance is a good sign that her bowels are working normally.
Your first milk, acts as a laxative, helping to push meconium out of your baby’s system. Once your milk comes in, after about three days, your baby’s poops will gradually change.
They will be:
- Lighter in colour, changing from a greenish-brown to bright or mustard yellow. This yellow poop may smell slightly sweet.
- Loose in texture. The poops may seem grainy at times, curdled at others.
In the early weeks, your baby may poop during or after every feed. On average, the baby will do four poops a day in the first week. This will slowly settle down and her bowels will work out their own routine. You may then find that the baby poops at a similar time each day.
After the first few weeks, some breastfed babies will only poop once every few days or once a week. This is not a problem as long as your baby’s poops are soft and are passed easily.
Your baby’s routine may change:
- when you introduce solids;
- if the baby is feeling unwell;
- When the baby starts to take fewer feeds.
Starting your baby on solids will have a dramatic effect on her poops. You’ll find that her poops are affected by the foods the baby eats. If you feed her pureed carrot, the contents of her next nappy will be bright orange. You may find fiber-rich foods, such as raisins or baked beans, pass straight through your baby and end up in her nappy. This will change when the baby gets older and is able to digest fiber more efficiently. As the baby moves on to a wide variety of foods, your baby’s poops will become thicker, darker, and a lot smellier.
Many parents think their newborn baby is constipated if he is not passing bowel movements as frequently as they think he should. However, constipation is not defined by how frequently your baby passes stool. Rather, constipation is when the baby’s bowel movements are hard and cause pain or bleeding. The baby will groan or strain when trying to pass stool.
Other common symptoms of constipation are as follows:
- stool streaked with blood, if there are cracks in the baby’s anus caused by the passing of hard stool
- abdominal pain
Newborn babies who are breastfed exclusively are very rarely constipated. Constipation is more common in bottle fed babies. If your newborn baby is having difficulty passing a bowel movement, try moving his legs in a bicycle fashion. Sometimes other treatments are needed to help your baby have a bowel movement, such as water or diluted prune juice. These treatments should first be discussed with your doctor.