Breastfed newborn constipation?

My newborn is almost 4 weeks old and is exclusively breastfed. She has not pooped in 5 days despite one "smudge" on a diaper 2 days ago and has very smelly, painful gas. Her stomach is not hard and she is only a little fussy today since the gas has begun. She is peeing plenty - she has already had 8 wet diapers since midnight and it's now noon for me. Is this normal? We're calling her doctor tomorrow but I'm getting very concerned. Since I am breastfeeding I don't know how much she's eating and she goes 2-5 hours between feedings. If this isn't normal is there something I can do?

8 Answers

  • K
    Lv 6
    9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    "Karen"'s advice is TERRIBLE

    Please listen to the other poster. You definitely do not need to call your doctor over this.

    From Dr Jack Newman, an internationally recognised authority on infant feeding:

    "Some breastfed babies, after the first three to four weeks of life, may suddenly change their stool pattern from many each day, to one every three days or even less. Some babies have gone as long as 20 days or more without a bowel movement. As long as the baby is otherwise well, and the stool is the usual pasty or soft, yellow movement, this is not constipation and is of no concern. No treatment is necessary or desirable, because no treatment is necessary or desirable for something that is normal."

    ...your kid is textbook normal.

    For Karen, from the same page:

    "The following are NOT good ways of judging

    "I can express only half an ounce of milk". This means nothing and should not influence you. Therefore, you should not pump your breasts "just to know"."

    What a baby can get out and what a pump can get out are two different and unrelated things. If you are going to sit around on Y!A and try to give out breastfeeding advice -- READ UP. If you are not willing to learn about it, STFU and do not give out awful advice that will sabotage nursing.

    "10 days, as posted above, is NOT normal for breastfed babies, in fact, they sheuld be pooping more than formula fed babies"


    "It is normal for the bowel movements of a breastfed to decrease in frequency when the colostrum, which has laxative properties, is completely gone from the mother's milk after about six weeks of age. A baby this age may continue to have bowel movements as frequently as five times a day, sometimes even after every nursing. It is also normal for a breastfed baby older than six weeks to have only one bowel movement every few days. Some healthy babies will have only one bowel movement a week. When bowel movements are less frequent, they should be more profuse in volume. As long as the baby is gaining well, wetting sufficiently, and is happy and content there is no cause to be alarmed by infrequent bowel movements, and it is not necessary to give the baby a laxative, fruit juice, or any other "helpers." In fact, attempting to force bowel movements can have harmful consequences to your baby."

    "Most (but not all) babies will have a change in the stool pattern after the first few weeks, sometimes abruptly. The baby's gut gets to a certain level of maturity where it starts to absorb all of the nutrients out of breastmilk and there is less stool to pass. Nothing may change. Another pattern for breastfed infants in their second month of life is one "honey-fill-the tub- up-the-back-in-the-hair-throw-away-that-outfit" stool a week."

  • Ro
    Lv 5
    9 years ago

    Wow... Karen clearly has no clue. Please don't give advice when you obviously have no personal experience.

    Your baby is having plenty of wet diapers so your milk production is fine. I was only ever able to pump 2 ounces at a time maximum and have been breastfeeding for 14 months.

    All young babies have gas and appear to be in discomfort. Their digestive systems are still very immature and they are not used to the feeling of digestion. This will pass as she gets older.

    My breastfed baby only pooped once a week after the first couple weeks or so. I called it her, "pooping day". She would have at least a couple good ones and was usually pretty fussy that day.

  • 9 years ago

    Okay I have to tell you Karen does not understand constipation as it relates to breastfed babies. I have breastfed two children myself as well as knowing lots of others who are breastfed. I have yet to know ONE exclusively breastfed baby that didn't at some point go at LEAST a week with no poops when exclusively breastfed and EVERY exclusively breastfed baby I know poops MUCH less than formula fed babies. Formula makes a ton of waste. It has a lot of indigestible ingredients in it. There is NO science to make any sense that you would have more waste from breast milk. Both my children went two weeks without a poop once early on (around 4-8 weeks old), then my oldest one settled into pooping every 3 days & stayed that way until nearly two years old (he was still nursing too). He never was constipated, poop was never firm & he never struggled to go. My younger one is now nearing two. He poops more often now, but when he was small, he pooped on average once to twice a week from 4 weeks on. Their Dr's have always been told this at visits when taking in health info & despite allll the other bad breastfeeding advice I have been given, every one of them was informed enough to say that is NORMAL pooping in EBF babies. Unless baby has a firm tummy, is distressed, etc, there is NO reason to worry over constipation. Also - never use a pump as any evidence of how much milk you make. The average breastfeeding mom pumps 1/2- 2oz out of both breasts per pump session. This is normal. Some pump more, some pump NONE & they still can EBF. Pumps are great for those that need them & when they can effectively express milk that way...however, they are not a test of how much milk you make. They weren't designed for that & they are NOT recommended ot be used for that. Your baby has PLENTY of wet diapers, so clearly you are making plenty of milk. THAT is the best test.

    And here from Dr Jay Gordon:

    "In summary, stools in breastfeeding babies are predictably green, brown, yellow or orange. It is runny and has curds almost every time. It changes color with viruses, may have a small amount of blood (call your doc) and may come once a day AND EVEN TAPER OFF TO ONCE A WEEK OR MORE AFTER A FEW WEEKS OF AGE. Formula feeding babies may show a little trickier set of changes involving constipation and diarrhea. This is just one small reason to strongly recommend and support breastfeeding your baby."

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    Best Constipation Cures

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  • 9 years ago

    You might want to feed her a little more frequently, too. A five hour stretch is kind of a long time between feedings, and even if it's fairly infrequent that she has to wait that long, it could interrupt her bowel habits.

    Babies CAN take a long time between bowel movements sometimes, though. My baby's pediatrician said to go ahead and use some infant glycerine suppositories if I was really concerned, and those always helped fairly quickly. Sometimes when she'd finally go, she'd release a lot of gas at the same time.

  • Katie
    Lv 6
    9 years ago

    There's a reason you get breastfeeding advice from certified lactation consultants and not doctors and nurses.

    Listen to K and the others, not Karen.

  • 9 years ago

    my doctor said that breastfed babies can go for 10 days sometimes before pooping. it's normal

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    People are going to post using suppositories, give her juice, stick a thermometer in her rectum...DON'T DO ANY OF THAT.

    First, you need to make sure your baby is getting enough...Does she take breast milk from a bottle at all? If she does, then you need to pump your breasts empty and see how much you will get out.

    Then, pump again the next feeding AFTER she has eat a normal the amounts...this will give you a good indication of how much she is getting.

    Also, are you COMPLETELY emptying at least one breast each feeding? If you are not, the hind milk...the milk that comes out last, is the milk that has the digestive aids that can help your baby stool.

    If you have determined that your baby is getting enough and you are emptying at least one breast each feeding, then it's time for a doctor visit.

    PS: Pediatricians will tell you that a baby can 'safely' go a week without a bowel movement. As a nurse, I can tell you that I have rarely seen a pain-free, happy baby go that long. To me, anything over 48 hours is too long and perpetual constipation can eventually lead to an enlarged colon, which can affect bowel control later.

    10 days, as posted above, is NOT normal for breastfed babies, in fact, they sheuld be pooping more than formula fed babies.

    Source(s): Registered Nurse
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