And yet, that’s exactly what happened. At the instruction of our nurse, my husband and I dutifully recorded each bodily secretion from our little bundle of joy as historic documentation of our first attempt at parenthood.
Fortunately, the vigilance on my child’s poop has waned a bit, but those first few days—and even weeks—were hard to wade through. If you’re a new mom-to-be, you’ll soon experience the joy of learning all about your baby’s first poop. And fortunately, your baby’s bowel movements will most likely become normal as time goes on. But until then, let’s answer any lingering questions you have on baby’s bowel movements.
What is Meconium?
Beginning in the first 24-hours, your baby will pass meconium as their initial bowel movement. And while meconium is your baby’s first official poop, let’s just say that meconium is like no poop you have ever seen before. The best way to describe what meconium looks like is sticky, black tar. Yup, really.
Babies will pass meconium in the first 24-hours, and for a few days afterwards. Meconium is the early stool that occurs before a newborn baby has the chance to dine on colostrum, breast milk, or formula. It’s a dark green or black substance made of amniotic fluid, mucus, and various cells from the intestinal tract. Once the baby is born, they get rid of meconium first–so expect to see black tar for those first wild diaper changes!
Breastfed vs. Formula-Fed Baby Poop
Whether your baby is breastfed or formula-fed will make a different in the appearance of their poop in the following days. For breastfed babies, it’s normal for stools to be the color of mustard and have tiny seed-like particles in it. Poop consistency will also be loose and runny and your baby will have about three poops a day by day three.
You won’t start seeing bowel movements like you’re used to until much later on when baby begins to eat solid food. After a few weeks, it’s also very normal for breastfed babies to go up to 7 days without pooping since they digest breastmilk so completely.
Is your baby formula-fed? A formula-fed baby will have stools that range from yellow to tan in color. The consistency is likely to be firmer and pastier than a breastfed infant, but not much thicker than peanut butter.
Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
Meconium Aspiration Syndrome occurs when your baby has a bowel movement while in-utero and breathes meconium into their lungs. It can be very dangerous, but overall, this syndrome occurs in only about 5-10% of births, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, and normally resolves itself over time.
Your baby may pass meconium while still in-utero when stressed in the womb or when there is a decrease in blood or oxygen. Babies who pass meconium may have trouble when they breathe it into their lungs. This can happen at three points in time: in the uterus, during labor/delivery, or right after birth.
If your baby has experienced meconium aspiration syndrome, it can cause initial breathing problems due to inflammation in your baby’s lungs. You can expect your baby to be suctioned immediately after birth to clear any meconium from the lungs, and your healthcare team will continue to monitor your baby for any potential problems.
Transitional Baby Poop
After the first few days, you can expect your baby’s poop to change color. Instead of meconium, the poop will pass through a transitional phase, when their stool becomes looser and changes hue. You can expect pale, yellow stools with a seedy texture by days four to six.
If you’re new to changing diapers and don’t have a changing table just yet, you can make do by placing a baby towel underneath your baby on the floor when you change their diaper. That way, it will catch any messes that may occur until you get the hang of things!
Babies won’t start having traditional poops until they eat solid food (this usually starts between 4 to 6 months). Stools may even contain undigested pieces of food – a multi-color discovery in your baby’s diaper you likely weren’t expecting! And of course, if you’re ever concerned about stool texture or color, talk with your pediatrician.
You might not have realized all there was to learn about baby poop—I certainly didn’t. But you’ve got this. Giving birth is just the first step of a lifetime of new lessons, and learning all about your baby’s poop is another one of those lessons.
And speaking of lessons, here’s an important one: buy a lot of diapers. In fact, buy more diapers than you think you’ll ever need. Just trust me on this one
Frequently Asked Questions
What color is my baby’s first poop supposed to be?
The color of your baby’s first poop will vary from dark green to black and be a sticky, thick substance called meconium. Remember: your baby is clearing out their intestines and will move to a yellow, seedy version of stool once they’ve had their fill of colostrum and/or formula, around day three.
When will my baby have their first bowel movement?
Your baby’s first bowel movement will occur in the first hours or days after birth. Some babies even poop right at birth, and if your baby was under any distress in-utero, they may have passed stool already. Generally, the first 24-hours are when the doctor is looking for baby to have their first meconium stool. If you’re baby hasn’t had their first meconium diaper in 24-hours, you should alert your doctor to make sure there aren’t any blockages or issues.
How many meconium poops is my baby supposed to pass?
Expect that meconium stools will continue from days one to three. By day three, you should begin to see the stools become looser and vary from greenish to yellow. These are called transitional stools. As your baby has begun to feed on breast milk or formula, their stools will lose the tarry, sticky and black color of meconium and start to resemble normal baby poop.
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