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As a new mother, you will be always in a constant state of worry whether you are doing things right. And of those many, many things you worry about, your baby’s bowel movements are one of them.
A baby’s poop is a sign of his/her health. Thus, you do need to know what is normal and what needs medical attention. Read on to know more about your baby’s poop.
The kind of poop depends on how you are feeding your child. If you breastfeed the baby, his/her poop will be:
Small in size—no bigger than a coin
Light in colour, usually a greenish-brown or bright yellow
Sloppy in texture
The first few weeks of breastfeeding will produce waste daily, after each feed. The frequency will diminish later, but that is not a concern, as long as the waste is easily passed and is soft.
If you are feeding your child formula, the poop will be different. You will notice that the poop is:
Yellow-ish brown or pale yellow in colour
The next worry you have is when you change your baby’s feeding routine. When you switch from breastmilk to formula, you will notice:
The poop is darker in colour.
The texture becomes thicker.
The smell also becomes stronger.
The other dramatic change you will see is when your baby starts eating solids.
What isn't Normal?
There are mostly two things you need to be concerned about: diarrhoea and constipation. Both of these conditions mostly affect babies who are formula-fed.
If your baby has diarrhoea, you will notice:
The poop is runny
Frequency and amount of poop is increased
And if you suspect constipation, be aware of the following signs:
Your baby finds it difficult to poop
The poop is dry and small
The tummy is hard when you touch it
There might be blood in the poop
If you're breastfeeding, green poo can be a sign that your baby is taking in too much lactose (the natural sugar found in milk). This can happen if she feeds often, but doesn't get the rich milk at the end of the feed to fill her up. Make sure your baby finishes feeding from one breast before you offer her your other one.
If you are feeding your baby formula milk, the brand you are using could be turning your baby's poo dark green. It may be worth switching to a different formula to see if that has any effect.
If the symptoms last longer than 24 hours, visit your health visitor or GP. The cause may be:
a food sensitivity
side-effects of medication
your baby's feeding routine
a stomach bug
Very pale poo:
Very pale poo can be a sign of jaundice, which is common in newborns. Jaundice causes your newborn's skin and the whites of her eyes to look yellow, and usually clears up within a couple of weeks of birth. Tell your midwife or doctor if your baby has jaundice, even if it looks like it's going away.
Also tell your midwife or doctor if your baby is passing very pale, chalky white, poos. This can be a sign of liver problems, especially where jaundice lasts beyond two weeks.
Cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) is characterized by periodic bouts of nausea and vomiting that happens at cyclical intervals. It affects all ages, but is more common in children. The condition is quite stereotypical in that there are paroxysms or bouts of vomiting that is recurrent and follows days of normal health.
There is no definite reason identified, but it is said to have a strong hereditary correlation. Studies have shown mitochondrial heteroplasmies (abnormal growth of mitochondria, which is a cellular component) to be one of the factors that can lead to CVS. The genetic correlation, however, is very difficult to establish, specifically because vomiting and nausea are common symptoms that occur with most conditions in children. And CVS is most commonly noted with conditions like infections and emotional excitement. Infection could be either tooth decay or sinusitis or anything else. Lack of sleep, anxiety, holidays, allergies, overeating, certain foods, menstruation – a host of factors have been shown to induce CVS. There is also a strong association with migraine and conditions that lead to excessive production of stress hormones.
The syndrome (a group of symptoms) usually has 4 phases:
Symptom-free interval phase: The child is completely normal in this phase, which happens in between bouts.
Prodromal phase: Prodrome is an indication that a disease or a condition is about to happen. In CVS, this is usually nausea and abdominal pain that can last from a few minutes to a few hours. Treatment in this phase can curb the disease. However, there could be some children in whom this may not manifest and the child may directly start with vomiting.
Vomiting phase: Repeated bouts of paroxysmal vomiting happen associated with nausea, exertion, fatigue, and drowsiness.
Recovery phase: As the nausea and vomiting begin to subside, which may take a couple of days, the child returns back to normal slowly. However, the lethargy and energy levels will take a couple of days to return to normal.
Treatment again depends on the severity and the phase at which it is being recognized. If a child has repetitive bouts, then the parent and the doctor would have identified a pattern to it.
If the causative agent has been identified, for instance, infection or migraines, then managing that takes care of the CVS also.
If identified during the prodromal phase, again it can be managed with suitable anti-emetic medications.
If identified after full onset, rest and sleep and medications to control nausea and vomiting are required.
Adequate hydration with electrolyte replenishment and sedatives can provide additional support. However, in most cases of childhood CSV, the pattern will be identified and that helps in better management, both the child/parent and the podiatrist.