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Normal and Abnormal Bowel Discharge in Babies

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As your baby grows, her eating habits change, which brings about a change in her stool as well. You may find variations in the color, texture and consistency of your baby’s bowel discharge every few days or weeks.

Friday, March 10th, 2017

However, the type of bowel discharge in babies depends on:

the baby’s age

whether she is breastfed or bottle-fed

whether she has started eating solid foods or not.

Frequency of Bowel Movements.

The frequency of your baby’s bowel movements depends entirely upon the type of feed that she is getting and may vary accordingly.

Bowel Movements in Breastfed Babies. Initially newborn babies pass stool four-five times a day and sometimes once after every feed. However, they gradually set into a routine. The frequency of bowel movements may then change to once every few days in some babies to even once a week in few other. This routine changes when babies start complementary feeding, when they are sick or when the frequency of feeds reduces.

Bowel Movements in Bottle-fed Babies. Bottle-fed babies normally need to pass stool every day to feel relieved and avoid constipation. As long as your baby’s poo is soft and easy to pass, the frequency should not concern you.

Normal Bowel Waste.

Meconium Stool. For the first few days after birth, babies pass meconium, which is made up of mucus, amniotic fluid and everything else that they have ingested in her fetal life. Meconium is greenish-black, with a sticky, tar-like texture. The appearance of meconium indicates that the baby’s digestive system is functioning properly. It may stick to the baby’s bottom and make wiping a little difficult. Clean it up using soft cotton wool dipped in boiled cooled water at room temperature.

Breastfed Baby’s stool.Once your body starts producing mature milk, your baby’s stool changes gradually. Colostrum acts as a laxative for your baby and helps in pushing meconium out of her digestive system. Bowel discharge in breastfed babies is of a more solid consistency, loose in texture and lighter in color, gradually changing from greenish black to mustard yellow. The smell is towards a slightly sweeter side. The appearance of stool is sometimes grainy and sometimes curdled.

Abnormal Bowel Waste.

Diarrhea. If your baby’s stool is watery and runny, more frequent, with larger volumes of bowel discharge and if it comes out spurting, she has diarrhea.

Breastfed Babies Are Less Prone to Diarrhea. Breastfed babies are at a reduced risk of diarrhea as mother’s milk provides them with bacteria that prevent diarrhea causing bacteria in their gut.

Diarrhea Usually Settles in a Few Hours. Diarrhea in babies clears up by itself in a few hours, but if it doesn’t, your baby may run the risk of getting dehydrated. It is best to consult your doctor immediately.

Constipation. It is normal for babies to turn red and push hard during their bowel movements. But if your baby is having trouble while passing out stool and her stool is small and dry or large and hard, she may be constipated. It is common for babies to have a tight stomach and cry while passing out stool. If your newborn’s stool is having streaks of blood in them, it means that the hard stool has ruptured the rectal and anal mucosa, called anal fissures. Anal fissures, if deep can be painful, consult the doctor in such a case.

Green Stool.It is a sign of too much lactose in milk. This can happen if the baby is feeding too often, but is not getting rich hind milk at the end of the feed to fill her up. Make sure your baby finishes feeding from one breast before you offer her the other one. Green stool should clear up with full feeds but if it continues for more than a day, consult your pediatrician as it may be an indicator of lactose intolerance.

Very Pale Stool. This can be a sign of neo natal jaundice, which is very common and should clear up in about a week’s time. But if it continues to persist, consult the doctor.

Blood Stains. Blood stains are common when babies are constipated. It is advisable to consult your pediatrician and get your baby checked if she is getting blood stains in her stool.

It is normal for a newborn baby to have variations in the color and texture of the stool, but any alerts of abnormal bowel waste should be conveyed to the doctor so as to diagnose and correct the potential problem.

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