The Importance of Poop

With so few ways for your baby to communicate, any information can be the focus of a parent’s attention.   Which is why poop becomes such a big deal!   But very few people find poop interesting. So when parenthood comes, it is an unnerving and disgusting process to be initiated into the world of this topic.

After the bewilderment, there are some comic elements to having so many conversations about poop. Bathroom humor is said to be the lowest form of fun, but it is universal – if you have a baby, you have to laugh with the sheer disregard of their farts, poops, spit-ups, and belches. They are little noise machines! And even more comical, is the point that you are excited about those sounds!

Proof of a well functioning digestive system can get taken for granted. Any parent who has worried about constipation its horrible side effects are not embarrassed by their excitement for loud and rolling diaper deposits. The alternative is a stopped-up baby in pain, who can’t get comfortable, and probably isn’t sleeping. All that matters is helping them get through until they can find some relief.

So what are we talking about when we mean a well functioning digestive system? It’s the frequency and consistency of your child’s excretion is in the normal range for their age.

Most first time parents don’t know what is normal for a newborn, and sometimes normal poops can cause a bit of concern.

Poop Changes The First Week:

Day 1

On the day your baby is born, their digestion track is getting a wake-up call. All waste is removed through the placenta while in utero. Day one is the beginning of their bowels waking up and working out. Sometimes a baby poops while in the uterus. This is called meconium.

The first poop your baby excretes is thick, blackish in color, and a very hard to clean off their little buns. This first kind of poop has acted as a plug, and now that your baby is born and hopefully taking food by mouth, the first few poops will be resting in their body as they were growing.

Day 3-4

At this point in your child’s life, their poop will have noticeably changed from black to a dark green color. This is a healthy transition, and proof their body is taking in nutrition. If your baby is being fed by your body, this is also the time when it is common for mature breastmilk to come in and replace colostrum.

Day 4-5

By this point, your child’s poop will have turned to a yellow color, regardless if they are fed breastmilk or formula. Some formulas will result in a deep mustard color, which is also normal. The consistency can range from a seedy texture to more watery.

When keeping your baby’s diaper diary, it can be confusing if you should “count” a poop as a poop. As in, a minimal amount of poo is present but is visible. A general rule most providers follow is any bowel movement larger than a quarter “counts.” Breastfed babies will generally make 3-4 poopy diapers every day.

Other diaper findings:

In the first day or two, it is normal to find orange or red color in a baby’s urine. Sometimes some crystals work their way through the system, and it irritates the vessels along the way.  Orange or red appearances in your baby’s stool are not regular and can indicate illness, injury, or an allergy, and you should call your doctor.

Sometimes, a baby’s stool will turn the color depending on the variance of their diet. This is more common after solid foods are a part of their diet. It is usual for stool consistency and color to change with the introduction of solid food. If there has not been a shift in diet, a change in stool color can be a sign of an allergic reaction.

If your baby is not pooping, it can be a cause for concern. Some ways to help your baby is to gently stretch their legs back and forth, “pedaling” them from a straight position to bent. You can also rub their tummy in a clockwise direction to help stimulate their bowels externally to help waste move through. Sometimes giving your baby a warm bath can help their muscles relax enough to allow a bowel movement. Gripe water can be helpful, or gas drops, such as Mylicon, if the other suggestions produce no results.

If the above options don’t help and your baby is still struggling, consult your doctor and ask about alternatives.  It could be as simple as offering some food high in fiber if your baby is at a healthy stage. It could also be something more serious. Long term constipation can result in fecal impaction, which is incredibly uncomfortable and may require help to remove the impacted stool.