Like a lot of new mothers, I researched every aspect of my daughters early months, including the number of normal bowel movements for newborns. I have to admit, despite all the research and talking to other mothers, I was surprised that my daughter pooped less than a few hours after breastfeeding. I thought something must be wrong. Thanks to her pediatrician and a few of my friends who breastfed, I learned that it’s common for nursing babies to have bowl movements right after eating.
As a parent, you learn that no two newborns are alike and that there is a range for the normal number of bowl movements. Newborns have between eight to ten bowel movements a day. However, if your baby has at least one a day, you don’t have to be concerned. In rare cases, some newborns have bowel movements every five day. Pay attention to the color and texture of feces.
The first bowl movement should happen within 24 hours after birth. This bowel movement, called meconium, is a greenish black sticky tarlike substance. The U.S. National Library of Medicine says meconium consists of amniotic fluid, mucus, lanugo (fine body hairs), bile, and shed skin and intestinal tract cells. Once a baby is born, this substance leaves the body.
Doctors become concerned if babies have bowel movements before birth. The condition called meconium aspiration syndrome indicates that babies are in fetal distress and need to be born immediately. Some babies are covered with this thick substance and require intensive care because they’ve inhaled meconium and amniotic fluid into their lungs. If babies don’t have bowel movements within 24 hours, doctors perform tests to make sure newborns do not have intestinal blockages.
Newborn bowel movements differ for breastfed babies and formula-fed babies. Breastfed babies stool looks golden orange and has a thick gravy-like consistency. My daughter’s bowel movements started out yellowy and turned the orange color when my breast milk changed from colostrum to mature milk. You should notice a change in stool color within one to two weeks. These bowel movements pass through their digestive systems within an hour or two. Of course, the color and consistency depends on your diet. When I ate fibrous foods, my daughter’s bowel movements were a lot more liquid and more frequent.
Formula-fed newborns stool is firmer than breastfed baby stool. Stool color for formula-fed babies range includes yellow and seedy, green balls, tan, and brown. You shouldn’t worry if your baby strains or grunts when having a bowel movement or if the baby’s face turns red. Don’t worry unless newborn bowel movements are dry and pellet-like or you see blood in the stool.
The number of normal bowel movements for newborns varies for each one. Newborn babies have up to 10 bowel movements a day. If your baby goes a week without having a bowel movement, don’t give them constipation medicines without talking to their pediatrician. Medical professionals may suggest dietary changes or a different formula that may be more digestible. They will be able to determine if your baby just has a different bowel movement cycle or if the baby has a medical condition. The bottom line is not to freak out if your baby does not follow some set standard of bowel movements, especially if you’ve done everything you need to in feeding or medically.