How to help a newborn to poop?

how to help newborn poop
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The dream has come true! Your baby is now part of this world. Time to celebrate and also to adjust, because now your routine might suffer drastic changes since you have this brand new life that is part of yours. In between so many adaptations, it’s also important to keep track of the small things, like your baby’s bowel movement (BM): have you ever wondered how to help your newborn to poop? 

Although much less common, some diseases might cause constipation: abnormality of nerves in the colon or development of the anus, difficulty in absorbing nutrients… These extreme conditions are definitely not as recurring as something temporary and expected as your newborn baby’s body adjusting to existing outside of its former home. 

Regardless of the situation, it’s important to identify when your little one might be experiencing problems and also know how to help in more mild cases. Time to learn how to help your newborn to poop and other topics around constipation. 

What is constipation 

Constipation is defined by the lack of bowel movement, which results in difficulty to poop or more serious anomalies in the newborn’s feces. These anomalies might be identified by dry, pellet-like or hard poop or a few days without pooping, which can eventually cause pain or discomfort to your baby due to the difficulty in evacuating.  

It’s important to state that constipation in newborns is not so uncommon, and parents of recently delivered babies don’t necessarily need to feel overly anxious if this ever happens to their child. 

See how you can identify constipation and what to do in case this happens to your baby.  

Signs and causes of constipation

Everytime there’s a change in our bodies or our physical routine, there’s also a response from our biological system. This is also true with newborns: constipation might happen during the transition from being breastfed or formula-fed to solid food; by the time the baby is being introduced to new foods and flavors; and it can even happen when the little one is not drinking enough liquids (considering they are already allowed to ingest liquids other than milk or formula, of course). 

It can be a little difficult to identify the red flags that indicate constipation, considering that all bodies are unique, and that’s no exception when it comes to babies. 

It might take a while until your newborn establishes a bowel movement routine, so a few days without pooping don’t necessarily mean that something is wrong. Also, your baby’s poo can change in color and shape because their bodies are still adapting to life outside of the womb, so not all changes in the baby’s body and its behaviors are cause of anxiety. 

As a general guidance, pay attention to the consistency of the stool: if it’s too hard, or with streaks of blood, or even if the baby demonstrates discomfort during their poop time, it might be a sign that it’s time to pay a visit to the pediatrician. 

Treatments for constipated babies 

The fact that your baby is not pooping everyday is not immediately and necessarily cause for distress. They can be adjusting to their natural rhythm, and not everyone has the same “speed” in their BM. At times, more natural or domestic treatments can help with this issue. 

All the possibilities that are listed next can help to ease some early symptoms of constipation, but should only be performed in the event of not-so-concerning cases. Keep in mind that these should not substitute a specialized consultation with your baby’s pediatrician. 

How parents can help their newborn to poop

Here are some of the home alternatives that can help stimulate your baby’s bowel movements and release some of the stool that might need some help to move on! 

  • Light exercise: while the baby is lying down, gently hold your baby’s legs upfront in the horizontal position, with their feet pointing at you. Make a movement of back and forth. This can help stimulate their bowel movement. 
  • Warm baths: contact with gently heated water can help stimulate the little one’s bowel movement. Make sure to create a relaxing environment so that the baby’s body can function properly. 
  • Massages: with gentle care and touch, make circular movements around their belly area. You can also use your hands to tiptoe and very delicately press the abdominal region to stimulate bowel movement. 
  • Water intake: if the little one is old enough to drink water and other liquids, it might be worth stimulating them to ingest more of that – just don’t push too hard because, as usual, all abuses can be harmful.
  • Diet adaptation: an adaptation of either the mother who is breastfeeding or the baby who is experimenting with new food might be necessary. Pay extra attention to the baby’s stools to see if any pattern changes according to what the mother ingests. And, before any drastic change in the nutrition plan, make sure to seek specialized help from a nutritionist.

Make sure to see below when it’s time to have an appointment with your doctor in case your newborn is suffering from constipation. 

Baby can’t poop: when is it time to see a doctor? 

If you feel like you’ve tried all you could to help your newborn to poop, it hasn’t worked, and your baby might be struggling with cramps or abdominal discomfort, wait no longer than 3 or 4 days in a row of no stool to seek medical care. 

As a last topic: remember that babies can pick up whatever is happening around them: when the parents are nervous or stressed, it might impact them as well. So make sure to address your anxiety: avoid any feelings of stress as possible and don’t feel pressured to have your newborn establish a poop routine quickly. Let them take their time and trust that you’re doing the best you can as a mom. 

There’s so much going on in the early months of newborns that can make parents feel overwhelmed. So make sure to check some friendly advice for first-time moms!

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