A new born baby brings joy, but at the same time, it is also a period filled with anxiety. In the first few days, until you get a hang of things, you will find yourself worried about a lot of things, seemingly insignificant to experienced mothers. This includes issues related to feeding the baby, whether you are lactating enough to satisfy your baby’s needs, sleep patterns of your baby and even baby poop—the color and the number of times.
How Many Times Does A Breastfed Baby Poop?
This varies with each baby. Sometimes you may be alarmed to notice that your newborn, breastfed baby is pooping as many as 8 times or more a day. This is normal and the number comes down as the feeding routine gets settled as your baby grows. After approximately 6 weeks your baby might poop 2-5 times a day or even once in a week. However, as long as the stools are not hard or dry and cause discomfort to the baby, there is nothing to worry. Once your exclusively breastfed baby starts on solids as well, the stools get firmer.
What Causes Constipation In Breastfed Babies?
If your baby cries in pain before or during bowel movements, it may be a sign of constipation. Sometimes this is accompanied by streaks of blood in the stool or stools that are small, dry, hard, and pebble-like.
Some of the common causes of constipation in babies are:
- Dehydration: One of the causes could be dehydration. Therefore, it is necessary to increase the number of times the baby nurses. By the 6th week, 90 percent of breast milk content is water. There is no need to supplement it with sips of water as excess water can cause electrolyte imbalance in babies
- Mother’s diet: Another common and perhaps the main culprit is the mother’s diet. Sometimes foods consumed by lactating mothers can cause allergic reactions and flatulence in babies. This can cause discomfort and fussiness in babies and might not be actually constipation in the real sense. Often dairy products don’t seem to go too well with the babies. The ideal thing to do is for the mother to watch her diet and eliminate foods she thinks is the real troublemaker
- Small rectal opening: In rare cases, when the mother’s diet has been altered and still the baby seems to be troubled by constipation, it is best to consult a pediatrician. Sometimes small rectal opening might be the hidden culprit that doesn’t allow the passage of stool. Again, Hirschsprung’s disease might also be the cause for constipation
Foods That Cause Constipation In Breastfed Babies?
If you have ruled out all other causes and have realized that certain foods are causing trouble, you must be vigilant about what you eat during lactation. Some of the foods that normally cause reactions in breastfed babies and must be avoided include, peanuts, shellfishes, cow’s milk protein, certain fruits, wheat, soy, eggs. One more important thing to note is, though some foods cause allergy among most babies, all babies may not be allergic to the same food. Therefore the mother has to be very cautious rather than going by hearsay and stay away from a specific food for about 4 weeks to see her baby’s reactions. Some reactions may be immediate and some may take as long as a full day or even a week to show up.
Changes In The Nursing Mother’s Diet To Avoid Constipation In Babies
Here are some of the changes a mother can make to her diet:
- If your baby shows intolerance to cow’s milk, most often it is not the lactose but the protein in cow’s milk. In such cases, avoid foods with cow milk protein such as cream, yogurt, butter, cheese, anything containing casein and lactalbumin. You must read the labels before buying a product to make sure it does not contain cow milk protein
- For children allergic to eggs, moms have to keep away from eggs, egg powder and egg solids
- Some babies may be allergic to peanuts and this can get quite difficult. Traces of peanuts are found in baby formula, cereals and even ice cream
- Sometimes if moms eat gas-inducing foods it can pass on to the baby as well. For instance fiber rich foods, fruits, cabbage, broccoli, potato, garlic, cauliflower, corn etc. are best avoided
- Take coffee in moderation if it doesn’t agree with your baby too well. And do remember to keep off carbonated drinks too
However, here are some things that mothers have to keep in mind when they are removing the allergic foods from their diet
- Replace the eliminated food with another food option or something that supplements the absence
- Most babies grow out of allergies when they turn 2. So, even if they exhibit symptoms of allergy to certain foods early on, there is nothing to worry. They will grow out of it
- Try not to introduce solid foods before 4 months because neither the linings of your little one’s intestines are perfectly sealed off against allergens nor do they produce sufficient enzymes to break down food
Breastfed Baby Constipated After Starting Solids
Once your baby turns 6 months old, you can start introducing solids gradually. Around this time, due to the change in the baby’s diet, you will notice that the frequency, color, and smell of the poop will change. Because the digestive system is still developing, it is possible that your baby may either poop several times a day or not poop at all for several days. Both these conditions are normal and need not cause worry. Once the routine is set and the bowel gets settled to the changes and food type, everything will get back on track.
Is It Normal For Breastfed Babies To Be Constipated?
It is important to remember that constipation is not common among babies that are exclusively in breast milk because it is a perfect balance of fat and proteins that the body requires. However, when they start on formula feeds to supplement breast milk and if it is not prepared with the right proportion of water, it might cause constipation. It is always advisable to go for breast milk when you have an option because it is light and easily digestible plus it is packed with nutrients. However, if you have to go on with formula feed for whatever reason, make sure you consult with your doctor before choosing your brand.
It’s true that most new moms are not aware that there is so much to baby poop in the first few months after delivery. This might be because these are not the topics that are often discussed. Everyone talks of baby’s feeding and offers tips and suggestions for sleep management post-delivery but no one really talks about the mother’s diet and how it can impact the baby’s health. However, don’t get too worried about it; once you get the hang of things and settle into the new routine that this wonderful phase brings along, you will enjoy every minute. So relax and take a deep breath.