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Breast milk makes a popular choice for most parents, as it helps the baby acquire their much-needed nutrition, and also is the easiest to digest. Not only that but it is also considered to be a laxative that is natural and makes the “constipation” situation rare in breastfed babies.
Having said that, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a possibility to occur. Each baby poops at their own preferred schedule, this also includes ones who are fed with breast milk.
To learn more, sit back and read on to know more about constipation in breastfed babies. Their symptoms, treatment, and causes – know it all with Parenthoodbliss!
Breastfed Baby Constipated - The Symptoms Of A Constipation Baby
How can a parent tell or know if the baby is constipated?
It is necessary to understand that keeping a close eye on the baby’s frequent bowel movements isn’t always the only and most accurate indication of constipation. Nor is seeing the baby strain or grunt when having a movement.
It is natural for babies to look like they are pushing through a bowel movement. But that can be for various reasons, including the baby trying to use their abdominal muscles to help pass the stool. It is also true that most babies spend way too much time on their backs, and with no gravity at play, they might just have to work a little more to move the bowels.
Listed below are better indications of constipation that you can observe in breastfed babies:
- Tight, firm, and distended belly
- Pebble-like hard stools
- Crying during having a bowel movement
- Do not wish to be fed
- Presence of blood in hard stool that can be caused by tearing of the anal tissue when the poop passes
Breastfed Baby Constipated - Causes Of Constipation In Breastfed Babies
In most parts, breastfed babies do not experience constipation until they are introduced to solid foods, which is around 6 months or so.
Here are a few food items that can cause constipation in babies:
- Rice cereal – Rice is a binding ingredient, which means it absorbs water in the gut that makes the stool hard to pass. You might want to consider switching to barley cereal or oatmeal if the baby shows any sign of constipation
- Cow’s milk – Cow milk is generally introduced to the baby at about a year
- Bananas – This is a common culprit of constipation that is seen in babies. You may try feeding the baby pureed bananas instead of water or about 100 % fruit juice mixed in it
- Low-fibre diet – A low fiber diet such as white pasta and bread is low in fiber. And without enough fiber, it could get harder for the baby to pass stool
Other reasons that can trigger constipation in breastfed babies:
- Inadequate amount of liquids given to children can be a cause of constipation in babies. You must always try to breastfeed the baby before offering them solids. Giving them liquids can help the baby pass stools with much more ease.
- Stress is another factor that can cause constipation in breastfed babies. This could also include travel, moving, and heat which could be stressful and cause constipation in babies.
- Sickness such as a stomach bug can cause diarrhea and vomiting in babies that could lead to dehydration and constipation. This also includes common sicknesses like the common cold which can decrease the baby’s appetite, as well as nasal congestion, which could cause discomfort while breastfeeding. Less liquid equals more chance of constipation.
- Medical conditions such as an abnormality in the digestive tract can also be a cause of constipation – although quite rare in breastfed babies.
Breastfed Baby Constipation - The Typical Poop Schedule For A Breastfeeding Baby?
A baby’s poop is varied by their age and of course their diet. To help you understand better, we have collated a tabular presentation of the poop timeline for breastfed babies:
1 – 4 days
In these days, you can expect your baby to poop once a day. As for the color, you can expect it to change from dark green or black to dark green or brown and looser as the breastmilk comes in.
5 – 30 days
Here, your baby will poop about 3 to 8 or more times in a day. As for the color, it would change from dark green or black to dark green or brown and becomes looser and yellow as the breast milk comes in.
1 – 6 months
When your baby is about a month old, they become great at absorbing all the breast milk. Therefore, they may pass a few soft stools every day or just one soft stool in a few days. Having said that, there are some babies who also do not poop for two weeks, which is also normal.
During the 6th month, as you start introducing solids to your baby and cow’s milk, your baby can be expected to poop more frequently. This is because their digestive system is still not mature and is figuring a way to digest these new food kinds.
On the other hand, the baby could also become constipated since some foods are naturally constipating such as cow’s milk. It is also hard for mature digestive systems to handle.
Relieving Constipation In Breastfed Babies
Here are some tips that can help you prevent and treat constipation in breastfed babies:
- It is ideal to add more fiber to the baby’s diet, especially if you have started with solid foods, you could want to switch from rice to barley cereal that has more fiber.
- Introduce fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber, such as pureed peas and prunes.
- Practice pumping the baby’s legs back and forth, similar to when riding a bicycle. To do so, place the baby on their tummies with toys to encourage them to squirm by reaching. This can help exercise bowel movements.
- Tummy massage your baby frequently. Place your hand right below the navel and gently massage their tummy in a circular motion for a minute.
Breastfed Baby Constipation - Can A Mother’s Diet Affect Constipation In Babies?
In simple and straightforward words, no!
According to a 2017 study of 145 women, it was observed that there is no such food that a breastfeeding mom must avoid, until and unless the infant has some obvious negative reactions to it.
In no way does fiber or gas pass from the mother to a baby, nor does the acid from acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus. This means a breastfeeding mother can consume pretty much any food as per her need and want, in moderation of course.
Adding here, according to La Leche League International, it isn’t what and how much a person consumes that stimulates the breast milk, in fact, it is the baby’s ability to suck the milk from the mother’s breasts. Anyhow, breast milk is made from what is present in the bloodstream and not the digestive tract.
Nevertheless, it is important for you to consume a nutritious and well-balanced diet while nursing for your healthy diet and the baby’s well-being.
Relieving Constipation In Breastfed Babies - When To Consult A Pediatrician?
You must make sure to consult your pediatrician if either of the below occurs:
- Remedies, as mentioned above, do not ease the baby’s constipation
- The baby looks distressed
- They refuses to consume food or drink breast milk/formula
- The baby has a fever
- The baby is vomiting
- If the baby has hard and swollen belly
In case either of the above occurs, you must consult your doctor. They will examine the baby and probably prescribe special tests, such as an abdominal X-ray to know if there is an intestinal blockage.
You can also talk to your doctor to ask about using suppositories and which ones are considered safe to use. Avoid giving your baby a laxative or suppository without consulting the healthcare provider.
You must know that constipation in breastfed babies is super rare, and in most cases, the babies do not feel constipated, until they start with solid foods. However, you must be aware of the signs and start eliminating them by simply changing your diet and exercising.
If they remain constipated, you must make sure to consult your doctor at all costs, medical advice in these situations is a must.