Question: I have a a 6 week old baby who has had a bowel movement in just about every diaper since she was born. A few days ago she didn’t poop for 24 hours, and then she went for 48 hours. Her poop was kind of greenish instead of mustard yellow. My pediatrician told me she was fine, but I’m still worried.
Answer: Once babies pass the newborn period, (4-6 weeks old), it’s not unusual for them to stool every few days, or even go a week or longer between bowel movements.
This infrequent stooling is often a concern for new moms because they are so used to their newborn babies pooping many times a day, but as long the baby is healthy and their abdomens stay soft, there is no reason for concern.
Exclusively breastfed babies don’t get constipated unless there is some sort of medical problem, like a bowel obstruction.
Constipation doesn’t mean just stooling infrequently – it means that the stool is hard and dry when it comes out, and is painful to pass. A baby who is nursing exclusively (no supplemental formula or solids) may strain and be a little uncomfortable when she passes a stool only once every few days, but when she does finally poop, it will be liquid and not hard. Be prepared for a major blowout! You may need to change your clothes as well as hers once she finally goes.
The following pictures are going to be really gross, but you’re going to be seeing them a lot after your baby is born, so you might as well prepare yourself now.
Breasted baby’s bowel movements change over time. For a day or two after birth, they poop out meconium (the black tarry stool they produce before birth); the faster they get the meconium out of their system, the less jaundiced they’ll be.
Transitional stools are loose and can be greenish/tannish/brown, and have the consistency of Grey Poupon mustard, sometimes with a bit of mucus thrown in. The baby has this type of stool for a couple of days, as the leftover meconium mixes with colostrum and your milk as it comes in.
Once the milk comes in well, the breastfed baby’s stool will be loose and school bus yellow, and may be watery or have a seedy or cottage cheese consistency.
After the first few weeks, the stool will still be soft, but the consistency and color can vary. Greenish frothy stools may be a sign of a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance, but in most cases, stools can be greenish and it’s perfectly normal.
Exclusively breastfed babies stools don’t have an offensive odor like formula fed baby’s stools. They do have a distinctive odor, but it’s not unpleasant. Once your baby starts solids, anything goes. The stools will be firmer and will smell like – well, poop.
Anne Smith, IBCLC