Breastfeeding and Baby Poop: What's Normal?

Breastfeeding and Your Baby's Bowel Movements

Breastfeeding And Your Baby's Bowel Movements. Baby Poop: What's Normal?
What should your breastfed baby's poop look like?. D-BASE/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Breastfeeding And Your Baby's Bowel Movements

Meconium is the name of the first baby poop, or stool, that your baby will pass. It is black or dark green and is often described as tar-like. It is thick, sticky, and difficult to clean off of your baby's bottom. Meconium stools will last for 24 to 48 hours. Breastfeeding assists in the passage of meconium from your baby’s body, since your first milk, colostrum, is a natural laxative.

Between the third and sixth day of life, the thick meconium will begin to change into a thinner, looser greenish-brown or greenish-yellow transitional stool.

After the sixth day, all the meconium will have been evacuated, and the baby will begin having milk stools. If you are exclusively breastfeeding, your baby's poop will often be a golden, mustard yellow color, but the color can be a variety of shades from orange to green. These bowel movements may or may not contain curds of milk, called seeds. They are often loose, unformed, and have a mild odor.

In the first week of life, a breastfed baby may have a bowel movement with almost every feeding. However, this is not true for all newborns. The number of bowel movements will vary, but the baby should have at least one or two bowel movements a day in the first month. After the first month, it's normal for a baby to have poop in every diaper that you change, but it's also normal for a baby to have a bowel movement once every few days, once a week, or even longer.

Baby Poop When You're Breastfeeding with Formula Supplementation

The bowel movements of a formula fed baby are firmer with a stronger odor. The color is tan to brown. If you are combining breastfeeding and formula feeding, you will get a combination of breastfeeding stools and formula feeding stools.

Baby Poop After The Introduction Of Solid Foods

The color, frequency, and consistency of your baby's poop will change once solid foods are introduced at approximately 6 months of age. At this point, the bowel movements will be thicker and more formed. The foods that you feed your baby will change the color of the stool, too. Carrots and sweet potatoes can turn the poop orange while green beans and peas may turn it green. Some foods will not get digested and end up in the diaper in their original form. The introduction of solid foods can also increase the chances of constipation.

Constipation And The Breastfed Baby

After the first month, some breastfed infants will not have a bowel movement for many days. This is not constipation. Breast milk is easily digested and produces very little waste in some babies. Less waste means fewer bowel movements. This is not something to worry about as it is a normal occurrence in breastfed babies.

If your baby is constipated, he will show signs of difficulty or pain while trying to move his bowels.

The stool will be hard and dry.

Do not give your baby any type of laxative and notify your baby’s pediatrician. He or she will advise you regarding the solutions to this problem.

Diarrhea And The Breastfed Baby

Sometimes breastfed babies have frequent loose stools, and you may be concerned about diarrhea. The good news is that breastfed babies rarely get diarrhea. Breastfeeding actually helps prevent diarrhea and the infections that can cause it.

True diarrhea will usually appear as  frequent watery stool, often green or brown in color, with a foul odor. Diarrhea in babies can be very dangerous. If your baby has diarrhea for longer than 24 hours, notify the pediatrician. Continue to breastfeed as often as possible to help prevent dehydration.

When To Notify Your Baby’s Doctor:

  • If the baby is still passing meconium after the fifth day of life.
     
  • If your baby has white or colorless poop. This is rare, but could indicate a problem with your baby’s liver or gallbladder.
     
  • If you see blood in your baby’s stool. This could be a sign of a fissure, or small tear, in the baby’s anus from straining with constipation.
     
  • If the baby’s poop is black (after the meconium period is over). Black stool could indicate bleeding from inside your baby’s digestive tract.

Sources:

American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Sixth Edition. Mosby. Philadelphia. 2005.

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