Newborn Constipation:
How to get it out!

Worried about newborn constipation?

It's not just the milk and dirty diapers a new parent has to worry about. Sometimes you have to pray for a poo! Newborn constipation can really be a pain in the bum for both you and your baby (well, literally in your baby's case).

How to tell if your baby is constipated?

Newborn bowel movements vary from one baby to another depending upon their milk intake and body. Some babies pass stool many times in a day while some can hold the stuff in for as long as 3 days. If you are breastfeeding, you may notice a frequent newborn bowel movement as compared to that of a fully formula-fed baby. 

Your baby is constipated if...

  • He hasn't had a bowel movement for 3 days or more.
  • Even if he has passed stool, the stool is dry and harder than normal and the baby finds it difficult to pass it. You may find your baby making disgruntled faces while passing stool.
  • Sometimes after days of "dry spell", you notice a watery stool and may confuse it with diarrhea. It is actually one of the symptoms of constipation, i.e., liquid stool seeps out of the blockage in the small intestines and end up in the diaper.

How can I treat newborn constipation?

Here's how you can get rid of the newborn constipation:

  • Measure three-fingers' width down the newborn navel area. Gently press it till you feel a firm spot/ mass. Continue pressing it (gently but constantly) for a couple of minutes, then release. Your baby may fart and/or pass stool after that. 
  • Hold your newborn's feet and move them gently as if she is riding a bicycle. The pressure between her thighs and tummy may trigger her bowel movement.
  • If you have introduced bottle to her, make sure the formula milk is luke warm when you feed your baby. Breast-milk already has the perfect temperature.
  • Massage the tiny belly gently in circular motion, ideally with some warm baby oil (olive oil is recommended).
  • Brown sugar works great to relieve constipation. Even with a newborn baby, it is considered okay to dissolve some brown sugar in one ounce of water and give it to her using a dropper (just like we give Vitamin D drops or anti-colic drops).
  • Glycerin Suppository is the 100% proven way to get the poo moving! I tried it with my newborn (half a suppository works wonders for newborns). It is inserted in the rectum and within half an hour (it's always before that) a bulk of stool is out! However, only use it if you have tried all the things stated above. If you make a habit of giving your baby suppository to treat constipation, the tiny body will get used to it.
  • There are some other remedies but for that your baby has to be at least 4-5 months old. For example, giving your baby prune juice does the trick (it is even recommended for adult constipation). Mashed pear is also another way to eliminate baby constipation.
  • Use a stool softener/ laxative, but ask your doctor first. For my 7-day old newborn baby, my doctor told me that I can give her 2.5 ml of the laxative I take (I know it's a newborn but that's what my doctor said and it worked!). But this needs to be a one-time thing and that too when it's a chronic newborn constipation issue; do not make a routine of this.

Color of the newborn poop:

It may be quite okay for your newborn to dirty a diaper almost 8-10 times a day in his initial days. This frequency will reduce once the newborn body is freed from miconium (stool created inside the body for the previous nine months when baby was inside the tummy). This is the reason why the initial stools are of dark green/ black color and are quite sticky. Frequent breastfeeding or bottlefeeding will result in frequent stool-passing, and the stool would start turning brown. After that, once the tummy is all clear, the baby starts to pass yellow/ mustard stools.

If your baby is gassy or has colic due to stomach ache, do this: Using iron, press a soft cotton cloth to make it warm, fold it, and then gently pad it on your newborn's stomach. Make sure the cloth is not too hot. The gasses will release in the form of farts and burps.


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