A Parent's Guide To Newborn Bowel Movement

Newborn bowel movement

When thinking about newborn bowel movement I always remember a friend of mine's saying: "Some of us at least have changed a baby's nappy before having a child of our own". So, we know that at times it can be messy, smelly and a number of other adjectives. But unless you have been there before you may be surprised, and even worried, about your new baby's stools. They just don't look like those of a baby even a week or two older

Tips about Meconium

The reason is simple - these are meconium i.e. the waste products that have built up in your baby's bowel while he was still in the womb - bile, amniotic fluid, and the laguno which is the fine hair covering tiny babies. So they don't consist of food waste, but old skin cells, mucus etc. Usually tarry, dark, brownish green and very sticky.


Best tip regarding newborn bowel movement: Even if you are planning to use cotton nappies later, this is the time for disposables, believe me. A word of warning, or indeed two words.


Meconium stains. If your baby is wearing bootees either remove them before removing his nappy or hold him firmly by the ankles. Experience tells me that as soon as a nappy is removed, baby, especially if it is a boy, will draw up their heels to their buttocks. It is relatively easy to wipe a baby's heels clean, but footwear would be stained for ever.

Next Newborn Bowel Movements

The next stool will be greenish brown and then the color should gradually change over a few days. If you are breast feeding it will become quite a bright yellow, fairly loose and curdy. Bottle fed babies will have a darker stool that is firmer and smells rather more strongly. So, this strange by-product is nothing to worry about and is perfectly normal.


The only time to be even a little concerned is if, when your water's broke before the birth, there were traces of meconium in the waters. This means that the baby opened his bowels before he was born, which can be a sign that the baby is or has been stressed for some reason.

It is a fairly common occurrence, but also one you should report to the person taking care of you during labor. Some babies will empty their bowels in the moment or two before birth, perhaps if their head is putting pressure on the cord. This is less of a worry as they will soon be out and breathing normally and not relying on oxygen in the cord, but it is a sign to the midwife or obstetrician not to let things delay. This baby needs to be born quite soon.


They also need to check that the baby does not inhale any meconium as it takes its first breaths. Meconium is very sticky and can cause some blockage in the baby's airways. How serious this is, depends upon the amount of meconium inhaled and other conditions i.e. how mature the baby is.

Babies who are known to have inhaled meconium will need monitoring, even if they seem quite healthy and breathing well, so they may be sent to a special care baby unit. Most of them will require only the least intervention i.e. a pediatrician will pass a laryngoscope into the baby's throat and suck away any meconium seen.

Very rarely will a form of aspiration pneumonia occur, but there are well formulated procedures to deal with the matter.

For most parents, and you are likely to be among them, meconium is just something to pull a face at, and to worry about how to get the stains off the bootees that granny knitted.

Very occasionally newborn baby bowel movement will fail at all during the first 48 hours. This is quite another matter which can have a number of causes. You can find more details in this report, but this is a very unlikely outcome.

If it does occur, again there are well formulated procedures to investigate and diagnose the situation. It is far more likely that you will have a bin full of dirty nappies.

Any Questions?

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newborn baby bowel movement