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Wednesday
Aug032011

Constipation with Breastfed Poop?

I recently had a mama ask me about her baby’s breastfed poop, saying she (the baby) hadn’t gone in two days and was that okay. I always tell moms if they are really worried, to feel free to call their pediatrician, but then I follow-up with the information I would give if she were my own client… or my daughter. 

When a baby is 100% breastfed, no formula supplements, it is nigh on impossible for the baby to get constipated. I’ve heard Peds and breastfeeding experts say it is impossible, but I know as soon as I utter those words, someone will come and tell me their baby was. Advisors/Providers… always leave an out. 

Breastfeeding-Problems.com explains the difference between a baby making a straining face and a baby that has true clinical constipation. 

-         “Baby cries when straining to poo 

-         Pain in the belly area 

-         Stools seem like little pellets” 

Dr. Jack Newman says

“Some breastfed babies, after the first three to four weeks of life, may suddenly change their stool pattern from many each day, to one every three days or even less. Some babies have gone as long as 20 days or more without a bowel movement. As long as the baby is otherwise well, and the stool is the usual pasty or soft, yellow movement, this is not constipation and is of no concern. No treatment is necessary or desirable, because no treatment is necessary or desirable for something that is normal.” 

So, I threw this out to my Navelgazing Midwife Facebook readers to see what their experiences were. I asked, “Breastfeeding Mamas: Does your baby ever go days without pooping? Do tell!” Here’s what the moms shared:

R: Definitely, but not often.

J: They did when they were little. E. would sometimes go 5 days and then explode. He had a lot of food issues though, so I'm not sure if that contributed to it.
 
P: Mine sometimes did. I never worried about it though. Probably no more than 2 days tops. My memory is fuzzy already though.
 
S: I had one of my kids that routinely pooped once every 3 weeks. No big deal.
(Obviously changed once solids were introduced around 9 months of age.)
 
T: Oh yes. He pooped every 4 days, down to the hour!
 
M: My two youngest pooped once a week until solids were introduced (about 8-9 months), starting around day 10 with both. Ped said as long as the poop was soft, it was within the range of normal. Some babes just digest breast milk completely with very little waste.
 
K: Even at nearly a year L. will go about every 5-7 days. He's not constipated, that's just how he has worked since the beginning. The more solids for him, the more frequent the poop.

T. was the exact opposite though.
 
P: Not often, but once in a while, yes.

D: I’ve had a 7 poops a day-er and a once a week-er. They just have different digestive systems. Once we started solids, her poops regulated out to about 1 a day, but sometimes she still goes 2-3 days between. My older one usually still has 2 poops a day. Oh yeah, the once a week-er had poo-splosions. Once it started, we couldn't leave the house all day. Even though we cloth diaper, the poo went everywhere. Down legs, out the front top, it was crazy. I don't know where she stored it all.
 
G: Mine was a daily pooper. Sometimes more than once a day.
 
D: Never. They poop every time they eat when under 3 months or around there. Seriously.
 
U: My first was on a 5 day cycle.
 
J: Yep. She goes every 2 or 3 days now and multiple times in that day. Early on, she went every 5 days or so, and they were huge. My older one always went several times a day and at 2.5 it's still unusual for her to go a day without going.
 
A: In her second week of life, my eldest went 8 days without pooping. My family doc noted our concern and told us that because she was peeing lots and otherwise seemed healthy, to just wait. It was pretty explosive when it came. She often went several days.
 
C: Yup and when she did it was from her hair to her socks. She did it in public once too. Drip drip drip poop all over the floor all the way out the door.
 
B: I wish! Mine went anywhere between 5 and 12 times a day for the first 10 months or so! Made it easy to potty train, though!
 
L: He is every other or every two days and then will poop 2 - 3 times. I call those "poop days".
 
H: Mine would go from pooping 4-5 times a day, to going once every 7-8 days for several months, then it'd be back to once a day or so around the time we started solids.
 
B: My 6-week old poops 4-6 times a day and leaves skid marks in EVERY SINGLE diaper from her wet farts!!
 
N: 1st bub, every nappy was poo until solids, then at least once a day. 2nd bub, every nappy poo until solids then up to 5 days between poos - having major constipation issues though, screaming, red faced pushing, frequently waking in obvious pain so we're onto the prune juice, lactulose, glycerine suppositories.
 
C: With three kids, they ran the gamut, from each time he nursed practically, to #2 who had a BM every 7-10 days to #3 who was intermediate of his brothers.
 
S: Not mine but a friend’s baby would go about 5 days between HUGE explosions of poo.
 
E: My daughter went 8 days once as a breastfed newborn. Completely fine!!
 
K: Yes! Our joke is that my son poops an average of once a day, which is to say not at all for a week and then 7 times in a row.
 
E: I have a friend whose first daughter would only poop once a week. She was a wonderfully chubby baby, so we all just figured she was metabolizing everything she got. Isn't it supposed to be 100 percent digestible? My kids were both regular poopers for the most part, but my daughter once went four days (and then went and went and went).
 
V: Both of mine went on a poop strike at about 10 days... since doula-ing I've noticed a lot of babies doing the same. It is at this point it seems like there is a switchover or consolidation of pooping. I never knew I could be so focused on pooping until I had kids. 

NgM: And I’ll add my own story! All the kids were regular poopers, but Meghann (my daughter who’s pregnant right now). Meggie went every eight days. And on that 8th day, we stayed home and changed diapers all. day. long. She was perfectly fine, healthy as could be, it was just her bowel’s rhythm. 

Thanks to all the mamas who participated and those reading now, feel free to add your baby poop stories!

Baby Aimee nursing 20 min. after being born in the car. 4/20/86. 

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Reader Comments (10)

My sister was a once-a-week pooper...and it always hit during Sunday church. My mother didn't care that it was so infrequent, but did try hard to get her to go on Saturday instead with no success. She always came to church with an entire pack of diapers and at least three outfits, and spent the whole service in the nursery changing her over and over.

August 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen

I wish I could have read this when my first was a newborn! He would only poop once or twice a week. His longest stretch was 11 days without a poop. It made for simple diaper changes, but it also made for a very worried first time momma. All the doctors always asked how many wet and dirty diapers he would have and while he was fine for the wets, the poopy dipes were always few and far between. I never would have thought that I would get so excited to change a poopy dipe, but for him I was. After a few months of this and him being totally fine, I finally gave in to the fact that the breastmilk was just being digested really efficiently. Especially because now that he has weaned, he poops daily. Sometimes multiple times a day.

Now my second little person, she is a multiple time a day pooper. I had never seen so much breastmilk poop until her. And we cloth diaper so the sun has become my best friend for removing those yellow stains! :)

August 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStef

Just wanted to add to your list of wisdom... both of my girls had this happen and it turned out that they had an imperforate anus. We had to gently massage around the anus with a q-tip and petroleum jelly a few times and they were fine. We went to the pediatrician and had him diagnose it both times. I don't recommend doing this unless someone has diagnosed it, since doing this can damage the tissue if it is not necessary.

August 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVanessa

Vanessa: Did you have a homebirth? Didn't your midwife make sure the anus was patent before leaving? Or, if a hospital birth, they "let" you leave before the baby passed meconium? I've never heard of an imperforate anus that wasn't discovered almost immediately.

Thanks for telling us about your experience!

August 4, 2011 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

DD1 was hospital, did pass meconium, but then she stopped pooping completely and we went to a GI specialist who said she had never seen one close up after being open at birth, but that was what had happened.

DD2 was born at a birth center and didn't poop while we were there. We weren't there for very long after she was born and she was born very fast. I knew right away what it was b/c of my experience with DD1 and had the ped confirm it immediately.

August 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVanessa

My first went every Thursday, about 5.30 pm. It took my husband an astonishingly long time to realize this, as every Thursday I'd say 'Do you mind just changing this one nappy for me?' and I'd hear his cries of horror and chortle secretly.

I'm still grinning at the thought of how much he spluttered when he realized that he was scraping out the only dirty nappy of the week.

August 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterT

All my breastfed infants have gone days withtout pooping. My youngest was on a routine for a little while of pooping every Wednesday morning. What a thoughtful boy :D
I worked with a pediatrician that had a great story. A mom had brought a baby in who hadn't pooped in a week. As mom and doc talked baby sat happily cooing in his carseat. Then the noises began. Perfectly happy baby started pooping..as a horrified mother and amused pediatrician watched, this little fellow managed to fill his footed onsie with poo, doc says it was like watching a balloon blow up :D
Unless the child is in distress/pain I pay no attention to their bowel frequency. A happy, eating, sleeping, smiling baby doesn't have a bowel obstruction, impaction or intusussception.

August 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

When my first baby was 4 months, we moved into another country. He didn't poop for 12 days and as it was so unlike him, I gave him a teaspoonful of prunes. A day later he pooped and it was soft but grey and stayed greyish/brownish claylike since. I guess the move was a great stress for him, but I don't understand the colour and texture change. My third is 10 months, has been having some solids, but his poop is still pretty much the same as when he only ate breastmilk.

August 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElisa

Thanks for this. My 3mo recently went from several times a day with a consistency change from seedy to pasty. I wasn't concerned because she hasn't seemed to have any trouble, but it's nice to know that it is normal.

August 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

I know I'm posting a little later, but wanted to note that my 6th child was constipated by 6 mths. She NEVER had newborn poop, was always around the consistency of a baby that was lightly fed solids and when we tentatively started solids she stopped up altogether (stomach pain, difficulty pooping-textbook constipation). I ended up taking her off solids and for some reason (I don't remember what prompted me) took her to my chiro. Apparently she torqued her back during her difficult labor mths earlier and once she was adjusted she starting pooping breastfed poop for the first time! My chiro recommended that babies with a difficult time pooping (preferably done after difficult labors, not waiting for something to show up wrong) be held firmly by the thighs upside down for a few seconds. He said if it's a mild back torque, the heavy weight of the babies head will pull the kink out of the back and prevent the need for chiro care.

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjljeppson

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