For a mom, the hardest thing to witness is when her baby is in pain. Even more so when you are helplessly watching while they try to pass stool.
The first thing you always think is, "Oh no! She's constipated! What am I going to give her to help her tummy go?"
While it's not nice seeing your little one put up such a big fuss while pushing, if your baby is Exclusively Breastfed (EBF), they're most likely not actually constipated.
They will strain and put up a huge fuss while pushing, going red in the face and even have a tear rolling down their face. Then when you open up the diaper, the runny stool is practically running over the edges.
So why all the fuss?
Babies usually put up a big fuss while pushing because of their immature digestive systems and them not yet knowing which muscles to tighten and which to relax in order to let the stool out.
It's like they are pushing against a door, not realizing it's actually a sliding door. All their efforts are in vain if they don't relax the muscle to let the stool out, in stead of clenching.
Breastfeeding stools are runny and resemble butternut soup in consistency and colour. It can have little grains or seeds in as well.
Constipated stools are hard and pellet-like, very difficult to pass.
Some breastfeeding babies can become constipated if they receive medications, iron supplements, formula top-ups etc.
What is the "normal" frequency of dirty diapers for EBF babies?
Babies newborn to 6 weeks usually start off with one dirty diaper for each day of life eg. 1 on day 1, 3 on day 3....Don't worry! It won't end up at 18 on day 18!
Around day 4 the stools change from the dark meconium stools to light yellow and from then on they usually have around 3 to 4 stools a day.
After 6 weeks, they can have anything ranging from as many as 10 dirty diapers in 1 day to 1 dirty diaper in 10 days. They do become uncomfortable later on e.g. around day 8.
So what can moms do? And what shouldn't we do?
Firstly, many moms give glycerin suppositories, rectal stimulation with earbuds and fingers or even prune juice. These methods can be very dangerous for a number of reasons.
If baby continuisly receive help from glycerin suppositories and rectal stimulation, they can start to rely on those and not want to go by themselves later on.
Babies under 6 months should also not receive anything other than breastmilk or formula. That means no prune juice. They have delicate digestive systems and gut flora that shouldn't be disturbed by juices and other solids.
Here are some better methods that other mothers have found useful in helping their babies pass stool (These also help relieve gas);
- The "Bicycle-Legs-Technique" which is demonstrated in this video;