Parents have to be concerned with everything from the best baby bottles for newborns to the right time to start potty training. But breastfeeding is another part of raising a child that must be addressed appropriately in order to raise a strong, healthy, happy child. One major concern that many parents have concerns the color and consistency of their child’s bowel movements while breastfeeding. It may be different from what you expected, or different from what you’ve seen in other diapers that you have helped to change, but there are reasons for this and the difference is perfectly normal and healthy. But there could also be problems with your baby’s poop that you may not have even realized were issues because this is your first child and you have never participated in changing the diapers of any other baby.
Meconium: Not a Problem
Soon after being born, you may not even be able to smell when your baby needs to be changed. This is because your baby is still excreting what is called “Meconium”. This is just a fancy word for things that were ingested while the baby was still in the womb and getting its sustenance from the placenta. This includes things like mucus and amniotic fluid. This is normal when a baby is first born, so there’s nothing to be concerned about if a newborn’s ‘poop’ at this time is very dark and sticky, like tar.
Early Breastfed Poop
As your baby starts to consume breast milk on a more regular basis, you will notice a change in their stool. Within the first week of being born, and a steady diet of breast milk , the poop should not be as sticky as the meconium was and should become a bit lighter, usually a shade of green that resembles to color of a pea.
Ongoing Breastfed Poop
As the weeks roll by, you should start to see your baby’s poop become even softer, almost the consistency of mustard, and the colors will vary but should still be in the yellowish to greenish range. Remember that, because your baby is getting their food directly from your body, things that you ingest can become part of their body and change the color of their stool. This could include specific foods that you eat, drugs that you take, and beverages that you drink.
Black poop has been a horrific sight for many a parent, but there are a couple of circumstances in which black poop may not be an emergency. Black poop can come from ingesting large amounts of iron. So, if you have been ordered by a doctor to give your child an iron supplement, or you yourself have been taking high doses of iron, there probably isn’t anything to worry about if your baby has poop that comes out black.
However, if neither you nor your baby are taking in extra iron, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible. All other justifications for black stool in a baby, or an adult for that matter, can be very dangerous. Blood in the stool is a big one. Blood (even when it’s red) in someone’s stool can be a sign of internal bleeding, an allergy, or an infection that would need to be addressed right away to prevent damage to the baby’s system or even death.
Yellow, Greasy Poop
If your baby’s poop is yellow and appears greasy or oily, you could be looking at fat absorption problems. Certain diseases can contribute to someone having a hard time absorbing fat into their body as they should, including celiac disease. Get this kind of poop checked out by a doctor. Getting a diagnosis as early as possible could mean saving your child years of seemingly inexplicable symptoms.
Gray or White Poop
What is sometimes called “clay-colored” poop is going to look white and chalky. This kind of poop can indicate that there is a problem with your baby’s ability to product bile during digestion. This is another poop color that should prompt you to contact your doctor.
Mucus-coated and Diarrhea-like Poop
If your baby’s poop is very runny, like they have diarrhea, or has sticky mucus on the poop, it is often a sign of some sort of infection. To ensure that your baby gets appropriate treatment, contact your doctor right away.
Your baby’s healthy poop will generally be soft. If your baby’s poop is coming out in hard little clumps, this is a sign that your baby may be struggling to properly digest something in your breast milk, or is constipated. In the case of constipation, more water in the diet can help. Babies sometimes become constipated as they transition over to solid food, so their body simply needs a little time to adjust. In the case of something intolerant being in the breast milk, you’ll need to consult with your doctor to get to the bottom of what the problem might be.
While finding the best baby bottles for newborns or the best blankets for newborns is an important part of preparing for parenthood, knowing about your child’s poop is even more critical. Armed with this information, you’re now ready to look into your breastfed baby’s diaper and know what to do, who to call, and have some idea of what might be causing the change in your baby’s stool!