Babies need to poop daily.
It is COMMON for babies to poop only every few days, but it is NOT NORMAL.
You may have heard that going long periods of time without having a bowel
movement is totally normal for breastfed babies, or that all of the nutrients from breastmilk are absorbed and create no waste. The current evidence does not support this. Lack of stool can indicate poor gut health, food sensitivities, or insufficient caloric intake. The first 6 weeks especially, babies should stool multiple times a day.
The Gut, Microbes, and Poop – from Jennifer Tow, IBCLC:
On the importance of newborn stool counts:
The “Butt Burp”* and Infant Massage are two tricks you can use to encourage the bowels. We also recommend both nursing mother and baby be on probiotics. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that colonize the digestive tract and help promote healthy bowel function as well as build a strong immune system. 80% of your immune system is located in your gut! See our file on probiotics here:
1) Butt Burp (for babies under 6 months):
How to Burp a Butt*
There are two types of gas in infants…esophageal gas (what is relieved with normal burping, gripe water, etc.), and bowel gas (usually relieved with infant massage, bicycling, bowel movements, and greatly helped by probiotics taken by mom and even given to baby).
Exclusively breastfed infants who go days without pooping *are NOT constipated.* However, they can develop trapped gas in the bowels, especially if they aren’t burping as well the normal way. This can cause much pain and discomfort.
Burping really well to control esophageal gas on the front end of things can help alleviate trapped gas in the bowels, but all infants take in air, so this technique can be very helpful if infant massage and bicycling aren’t cutting it.
For EBF babies with trapped bowel gas or poop, hold baby in a tummy down
position, with his lower abdomen over the rounded part of the top of your knee.
Gently, but firmly, pound-pat babies lower back. The counter-pressure on the lower abdomen feels good to baby. Baby may grunt, pass gas, poop and if in pain
from the gas, will very likely stop crying.
NOTE: This technique is appropriate for use with EBF babies under 6 months who have trapped gas, or go more than a day or so without pooping. This is not necessarily appropriate for a baby on solids who may be truly constipated from the introduction of solids.
*Information provided by Rachel Bruce.
2) Infant Massage (any age):
Massage can be used to help encourage your baby’s bowels to move. Before
starting any massage for baby:
● Make sure the room is warm enough (especially if removing baby’s clothing)
● Relax yourself
● Warm your hands by rubbing them together
● Ask baby’s permission to start massage by making eye contact and verbally
asking out loud “Is it okay if I massage your tummy?”
You can massage over clothing, but for tummy massage, I would recommend you use a little oil and massage directly on the skin. The warmth of skin to skin contact can be very helpful for constipation as well.
For oil, use all natural vegetable or fruit based oil, something edible (coconut oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil). Put a small drop of oil in your hands, about the size of a coin, and rub together to warm. Show baby what you are doing, he’ll start to associate the sight, sound, and smell with what comes next.
When doing these massage strokes, use a firm but gentle pressure. Always check in with your baby to make sure he likes the massage. Feel free to try a lighter pressure, use a different stroke or just stop if he’s done.
To massage your baby’s tummy, place warmed hands on tummy at or below the belly button. I know it’s a small space, but important to target the bowels. Using flat palms gently stroke downward, using hand over hand, a paddling type motion. Next moving hands in a clockwise motion, (very important to move clockwise – if you go the wrong way, you’ll create more issues), stroke baby’s tummy in a circle.
3-Part Stroke called: I Love U!
With baby laying on the floor facing you: (remember clockwise motion)
First trace the letter “I” on baby’s left side.
Next draw an “L” starting on baby’s right side, across the top of the tummy and down baby’s left side.
Then, draw an upside-down “U.”
Finish on the tummy by stroking down with warmed flat hands a few times.
During tummy massage, your baby may have a bowel movement or release some air – great! You may wish to leave his diaper off during the massage session. Babies like to have the freedom of movement they gain without a diaper, so if you decide to leave it off, just have something underneath in case of any accidents.