Constipation at Babies Exclusively Breastfed
They say that one of the most important concerns of a new mother is related to the contents of a newborn`s diaper.
Mothers are usually very careful at what their baby poops, asking themselves questions which sometimes may even seem ridiculous: “Do my baby poops as often as he should?”, “Is the color normal?”, “Why there are grains in his stool?”, “Doesn`t his poop have too much liquid?”, “Isn`t his poop too pasty?”
Most of the times the worries related to the baby`s stool don`t have a lot to do with reality. Normally a baby that was exclusively breastfed has no reason to make diarrhea, with the exception of when he may have been infected or contacted a virus, and he also has no reason to be constipated as long as he receives only breast milk.
But a lot of women complain about their baby being constipated after he was exclusively breastfed.
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The Meaning of Constipation at Infants
Constipation appears under the form of little hard balls, sometimes even dry. If the baby is infected, the digestion becomes difficult, sometimes with crying from the baby`s part; and even if he doesn`t cry, he may seem unhappy, irritated or might start to move his legs a lot showing he`s uncomfortable.
But generally constipation appears after food diversification starts or in the case of babies fed with powdered milk when the proper dosing isn`t respected. When breastfed babies are concerned, mothers shouldn`t worry because constipation appears very rarely.
The Meaning of Normal Stools at Breastfed Babies
Around the 4th day of the baby`s life, the newborn will eliminate meconium, the baby`s first stool that is mostly consists of amniotic liquid. Then the stools will become more frequent, sometimes appearing before every meal with a more watery consistency, reason for which some mothers confounding a normal stool (of milk) with diarrhea.
The color can vary even during an entire and this may happen for various reasons. For instance, a green stool could be the result of the fact that the newborn has sucked more foremilk. The one that is more watery may be because he hasn`t consumed enough hindmilk, the one that is more consistent. Some small balls like mustard seeds are also sometimes normal in the stool of a baby who was exclusively breastfed.
The problem is that sometimes from the beginning, other times after a period of more frequent stools, some babies start to eliminate once at every few days. This sometimes offers a lot of concerns to most mothers who immediately think their baby is constipated.
However, a very important thing that most mothers should know from the start is that a baby who was exclusively breastfed is just as normal to have 10 stools during 24 hours or to have one single stool at every a few days.
What`s Not Recommended?
When an exclusively breastfed baby has rare stools or he`s constipated, don`t use the thermometer to “stimulate” him. This habit, although considered useful by many mothers, may lead to the baby having anal burns, bleedings, wounds or infections. This could also lead to a weakened sphincter, and if this may become a frequent habit, a lot of babies may not be able to poop for years.
Don`t use a glycerin suppository, mainly for the same reason. This may lead to addiction, babies who are used to poop using suppositories may have a faulty digestion and elimination because of the mother`s intervention when it`s not the case.
Don`t offer your baby tea, fruit juice or other liquids that have a laxative effect, mainly because of a reason which is already known, meaning that a baby who is exclusively breastfed doesn`t need anything else than breast milk.
Tea is contraindicated before the baby`s reaching 6 months old, especially medicinal tea which can have a laxative effect and may cause the baby bigger issues.
Fruit juices, especially citrus juices, also aren`t allowed in the baby`s diet until he`s 8 to 10 months old.
What Can You Do If Your Baby Has a Discomfort?
If you still consider that the baby suffers because of him not being able to poop properly, if you noticed he has cramps, gas or an abdominal discomfort, it`s still not recommended to get to the “heavy artillery” that was mentioned above before trying simpler and harmless techniques:
- You could give your baby a massage on his belly;
- Do the “bicycle exercises” with his legs;
- Hold him in an ergonomic system vertically;
- Improve your own diet with fibers, citrus juices or prunes to help your baby through breastfeeding.
Although the interval of 7 to 10 days without your baby having a stool may seem too big, it`s best to keep your calm and think that as long as when he poops, the consistency of his stool is normal, pasty, your baby isn`t constipated and is only about the total digestion of the breast milk.
If the baby shows other worrying signs, if he seems like he`s in pain, if he finds it difficult to poop, or you simply suspect he has a serious health problem, don`t hesitate to contact a pediatrician.
Image Credit: The Healthy Home Economist.