For new parents, apart from the tough task of choosing lovely coloured clothes for their little prince/princess, the only other fuss about colour is the colour of their baby’s poop. With numerous diaper changes, parents usually see a variety of stool colours. It becomes difficult to ascertain if the poop colour is normal or not. Parents often wonder if it is normal for breastfed babies to have green coloured poop.
The colour of the baby’s stools changes with age. A newborn's first few stools are dark and sticky and the colour varies from black to dark green. After a few days, the colour changes to a lighter shade of green. As the baby gets older, the poop colour turns yellow and to a seedy-texture.
But the major concern for parents is when the baby’s poop colour is not consistent. Yes, even breastfed babies’ poop colour can vary, depending on various factors.
Now, let us understand how an exclusively breastfed baby’s poop should look like in the first week of birth.
Well, there is no hard and fast rule that your newborn's poop should turn yellow by 5 days. For some babies, the poop turns yellow after about a week.
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How should a breastfed baby’s poop look like?
The poop colour of an exclusively breastfed baby will be yellow/mustard and may have a creamy consistency with seed-like flecks which are actually, partially digested fat. It is supposed to have a sweetish smell (I have not tried to smell it ?).
However, the colour can slightly vary depending on what the mother has consumed.
Can my breastfed baby have green coloured poop?
YES. And it's NORMAL. If your baby’s stools are green, first check on what you have consumed in the last 2 days. If you have consumed greens or certain herbal juices, it would have passed to your baby through you, and to its poop.
What if you hadn’t? It indicates that your baby has consumed more of foremilk, which is the low calorie, lactose-rich milk, that comes first during feeding. The high calorie, fat-rich milk, called as hindmilk, comes later during feeding.
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What are Foremilk and Hindmilk?
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Well, these are not different types of milk. Foremilk refers to the first milk which your baby feeds on during breastfeeding. This milk is watery and is abundant in carbohydrates, proteins, and vitamins. Hindmilk refers to the milk that comes from your breast after the foremilk. This is high-calorie, fat-rich milk which is thick and darker in colour, as compared to foremilk.
Please understand that there is no sudden change in the milk supply to your baby from foremilk to hindmilk. The change is gradual from the watery foremilk to the thick hindmilk. The flow of the foremilk is faster and hence, it reaches the baby first. As feeding progresses, the fat-globules in the ducts of the mammary glands, start to dislodge, and the milk gradually becomes thicker and fat-rich, which we call as hindmilk. The hindmilk will make the baby feel full and content after the feed.
Why did my baby consume more foremilk?
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- If the mother has lots of milk, some babies can get an excess of lactose-rich foremilk while feeding.
- Also, the mother might be feeding the baby from each breast for a very short time, resulting in the baby receiving more of foremilk.
- Another common reason is that the baby is not latched to the breast correctly and is unable to suck out the thicker hindmilk.
Foremilk and Green Coloured Poop – How is it related?
Lactose Overload! The foremilk which is thin and rich in lactose, causes overload on the little tummy. Its tiny intestines, may not be able to absorb all the lactose that it has been fed. This results in a green and frothy poop. Your little one may also be fussy, or gassy during such episodes. Occasionally, babies who mostly drink foremilk, may not gain weight, as they do not receive the creamy milk.
Other Causes of Green Coloured Poop
Apart from the foremilk-hindmilk imbalance, there are other circumstances during which the baby’s poop can turn green.
- Allergy or food sensitivity – Your baby might be allergic or sensitive to any of the foods you consumed. Try to avoid that particular food from your diet.
- Tummy upset – If your baby has a tummy upset or is recovering from an intestinal illness, she might pass green coloured stools for some time.
- Green in the mother’s diet – If you have consumed a lot of greens, or anything with green food colouring, your baby’s poop might be the same colour.
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What steps do I take if my baby has started passing green coloured poop?
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As you have already understood by now, green coloured poop is not abnormal in breastfeeding babies. However, you can still take the below-mentioned steps to ensure that the green poop does not become a cause for concern.
- Check if you have consumed green and leafy vegetables, in the past 24 hours.
- Check if your baby is latching properly to your breast and feeding till she is full. Also, check if she is demanding frequent feeds. Sometimes, frequent feeding indicates that the baby is getting thinner and watery foremilk.
- Ensure that your baby feeds for sufficient time at one breast and then moves on to the other breast.
- If your baby is fussy or cranky, check if she has any food allergies or sensitivities. Make a list of foods that you have consumed in the past 24 hours and identify the common allergy-causing foods. If your baby becomes fussy or cranky again, check if you have consumed the same food again. Avoid consuming that food item until you stop breastfeeding your child.
- If your baby looks lethargic, tired, and sleepy most of the time and also has diarrhoea-like green stools, consult a pediatrician immediately.
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At the end of the day, breast milk is good for the baby and do not be overconcerned about foremilk-hindmilk imbalance. If your baby is feeding well, gaining weight, and passing stools regularly, it should not be a cause for major concern. However, if you notice that your baby is tired, sleepy, lethargic, and passing green stools, it is time for immediate consultation with a pediatrician.
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