Constipation In The Nursing Baby: What It Is And How To Relieve It?
Your baby’s digestive system is very immature when it is born. So its intestinal transit is very different from that of older children and adults. As it matures, there are chances that if you do not know them in advance and despite being normal, you can interpret them as a health problem. Each baby is different and the frequency and shape of the bowel movements vary greatly from one to another. To know constipation in a baby, one should not look at the number of bowel movements he makes but how they are. We say that a baby is constipated when he makes hard and painful bowel movements. Regardless of how many he makes and how often he makes them.
IS MY BABY CONSTIPATED?
In a breastfed baby the number of wet diapers or frequency of bowel movements can be valuable indicators of your well-being. Anyway, the normal range in the patterns of a baby’s bowel movements is very wide.
The correct definition of constipation refers to that baby who experiences the formation of hard and dry stools. Which are painful and difficult to mobilize. Breast-fed babies rarely have these types of bowel movements when they are exclusively breastfed.
Read Also: Diseases of the digestive system in children
THE FIRST DAYS OF LIFE
In the first two or three days of life, the most typical thing for a baby is to wet only one or two diapers a day. As the mother’s milk production increases, the amount of urine also increases. During its first day of life, a newborn will have dark and sticky bowel movements, called meconium. A substance that has accumulated before birth. As the baby sucks colostrum, the meconium will be cleansed of the intestinal tract. So that during the days the bowel movements will become soft and light in color. The stool is usually yellow, greenish-yellow or brown. It is not uncommon for occasional green to appear. The smell is usually mild, scented “cheese” and usually not unpleasant. Consistency can be described as similar to scrambled eggs, custard, Pea soup or even similar to mustard. Often small solid bits can be found in the stool, similar to seeds.
THE FIRST SIX WEEKS
After the first few days and until reaching six weeks of life, most babies have bowel movements two to five times every 24 hours. Deposits can be the size of a coin 2.5 cm in diameter. Some babies will have more frequent bowel movements. Although it is also possible for a healthy baby to be more spaced. If a baby younger than six weeks has less than two bowel movements a day. It can be considered a variation of normal if the baby continues to wet diapers, gain weight at an appropriate rate and the stools baby generate are of a substantial volume.
After the first few days, a breastfed baby should wet, within 24 hours. At least six or eight cloth diapers or five to six of the disposable ones. To give you an idea of how wet the diaper should be, pour 2 to 4 tablespoons of water (30-60 ml) in a dry diaper. This is how a wet diaper should feel normal. This is easier to measure in cloth diapers. If you use disposable, you should know that there is great variability depending on the brand and type of diaper.
It may happen that a diaper of a certain brand does not feel very wet. While another may feel soaked with the same amount of urine. You may find it helpful to place a tissue paper inside the diaper to see how wet it is. While another may feel soaked with the same amount of urine.
If the frequency of bowel movements decreases quite quickly, at any age, make sure that your baby continues to breastfeed frequently (8 to 12 times a day). At the time that requires it and that he does not spend too much time sucking his thumb or pacifier. If your baby is already sleeping through the night, the number of breastfeeding sessions during the day should be increased to ensure adequate milk intake. Regular weight checks can be reassuring for parents to assess how their baby is growing.
LAST SIX WEEKS
It is not unusual for the frequency of bowel movements of a breastfed baby to decrease when colostrum. Which has laxative properties, disappears completely from the mother’s milk after the first six weeks. A baby of this age may continue to have frequent bowel movements. Even after each breastfeeding session.
It is also normal for a breastfed baby over six weeks to have only one bowel movement every several days. Some healthy babies may have only one evacuation per week. When bowel movements are less frequent, they should be soft, flow easily and of greater volume. While the baby gains a good weight (450-900 gr per month between 3 and 4 months), wet enough diapers and be happy and happy there is no reason to be alarmed against unusual stools. It is not necessary to give the baby laxatives, fruit juices, syrups or any other type of “help”. Forcing stools can be harmful to the baby.
After six weeks:
After six weeks of life, probably wet five to six diapers a day, but in this case, the diapers will be much wetter and heavier. As the baby’s bladder grows, it can produce and store even more urine. To assess the moisture of a larger baby’s diaper, pour 8 tablespoons of water (120 ml) in a dry diaper. That would be what is considered normal for a wet diaper and will give an idea of what to expect. If at any time you have doubts about whether your baby is growing well and gaining enough weight, consult your doctor.
AFTER SOLID MEALS
Around six months of age, once solid foods have been introduced to a breastfed baby. Many changes appear as to the patterns of their bowel movements. The bowel movements will have a stronger smell and a different color and consistency. It is normal to find bits of vegetables in the diaper because cooked vegetables are the most difficult foods to digest. After the introduction of solids, the baby may experience constipation or diarrhea. Which may be a guideline that he is not tolerating a new food. Some foods with added iron, such as rice cereal or formula milk, can cause constipation in some infants. Be sure to breastfeed before offering solid food, to ensure the most nutritious food. For more information, The Feminine Art of Breastfeeding is a great resource.
Causes of constipation in babies younger than one month:
- Changes in your diet (especially in more advanced stages, when complementary feeding begins)
- Diseases or conditions (especially when they have not started feeding with solids)
- Even though they are less common, medical causes that cause constipation may include:
- Intestinal diseases, such as those affecting the nerves or intestinal muscles
- Other conditions that affect the intestines
- Use of certain medications
This is why your baby must be fed exclusively with Breast Milk during its first six months of life and do not introduce any inappropriate substitute. Breast Milk has everything your baby needs, even to avoid constipation. It is not necessary to offer water or any other type of liquid. Your milk has everything under control. So, you must offer breast on demand (feed it every time baby ask).
If your baby has some symptoms of constipation, we leave you these tips:
- Breastfeed your baby more frequently; Breast Milk works as a natural laxative
- Bath him while having the discomfort of constipation. This will help the baby to relax.
- Massage his belly !: You can massage baby abdomen using your hand with careful and circular movements in your lower abdomen
- Move baby legs in circles (it is one of the best-known remedies against constipation)
It is not common for babies who are breastfed to suffer from chronic constipation. if the discomfort persists, consult your Health Professional soon to make an accurate diagnosis.
What is false constipation in babies?
As your baby grows the number of bowel movements decreases. You can go from making deposition in each shot, to do once or twice a day, even if there are days you don’t do. This change can make you mistakenly think that your baby has constipated. But even if your baby has not had a bowel movement for several days. If he is not upset, keep feeding normally and when he makes a bowel movement, his consistency is normal, he is not constipated. Two situations are normal and that makes this happen.
The first is that your baby intestine is increasingly able to absorb almost all the food you eat, so little waste is generated to expel. It is known as false constipation because despite making fewer bowel movements a day, it has no intestinal rhythm disorder and you do not have to worry or make any changes.
The second is that there is incoordination between a bowel movement and voluntarily opening the culete. Babies are born with what is known as the gastrocolic reflex that is that every time baby eats, your baby intestine moves to empty and make room for the new food. At first, it is involuntary, since it cannot control that movement or close the culete. But between the second and eighth weeks, your baby can voluntarily squeeze or relax the sphincter. Although it is logical at first not know how to do it. When your baby bowel moves, it squeezes the gut but many times without success. This makes it look like he is upset. Normally, you can interpret that it is constipated, however, it is not so. When it finally does, sometimes several days later, the poop is soft and painless.
What can we do to help you?
If your baby makes a bowel movement every few days but is not upset and when the consistency is soft. You do not have to worry or do anything. If your baby has false constipation but is upset, you can help by massaging him in the gut, flexing his legs and lifting them or running a wipe down the culete to stimulate him. You can stimulate it with a rectal catheter or a glycerin enema. Entering it 1 centimeter gently will be enough. You will be able to relieve the discomfort and it does not cause any harm or pain.
If you have to help him several times, do not be afraid to be accustomed to not working your baby intestine. On the contrary, you are teaching him and especially relieving him (that’s why you have to use it at the moment when your baby is squeezing or shrinking your legs).
When should you consult the pediatrician?
If your baby has true constipation and his pockets are hard and in pain, you should consult with your pediatrician. Especially if he is less than four weeks old. Your pediatrician will recommend that you should do it depending on your baby age. Introduce more fluid, an osmotic laxative, change milk, glycerin micro enemas…. But you mustn’t give any infusion or medication or make changes in your baby diet on your own. Take this opportunity to remind you that if you are breastfeeding, your diet does not influence your baby constipation at all. If they can influence certain medications you take. Published By Healthzigzag.com