Help! A question about babies and poop.

September 8, 2007 | 16 comments

[I know, I know. First breastfeeding, now this. Once again I apologize to readers who couldn’t care less about this. But I have a bit of a crisis over here and need the wisdom of my readers.]

First of all, THANK YOU for all the great advice about breastfeeding. I don’t think I would have made it this far without all the great advice I got. The pain is still pretty bad but I see a light at the end of the tunnel.

I now have another problem that I want to take some space on this blog to address in case anyone can help me: my baby isn’t pooping. I cannot figure out why. None of the usual explanations seem to be a good fit. I’m really hoping that someone else has experienced this and might be able to help me, because I’m pretty sure that when I take her to the doctor next week he’s going to tell me to start supplementing formula, which could spell doom for breastfeeding. Here’s the deal:

– The baby *can* have bowel movements on her own. She did so multiple times before we left the hospital.

– Since we left the hospital (Thursday 8/30) the only time she’s had a bowel movement was Tuesday (9/4), and that was because we gave her a half glycerin suppository at the recommendation of the pediatrician. Since we left the hospital, she has not had a single spontaneous BM on her own (without the help of a suppository).

– Over the weekend she had to have her temperature taken rectally twice, and that didn’t move things along.

– The doctor said that it’s not abnormal for breastfed babies to go up to five days with no stools, even at this age. He said they start to worry around day five. My babies always tend toward having fewer BM’s than other babies. Still, clearly something’s out of whack that she hasn’t had a single spontaneous (not suppository-induced) BM since we left the hospital more than a week ago.

– The BM on Tuesday was not hard and didn’t have any signs of constipation.

– She doesn’t seem to be in any discomfort. I see her straining as if she’s trying to have a BM sometimes but she never cries or gives other indicators that she’s in pain.

– She is gaining weight at a good rate. She’s gaining almost an ounce a day and is back at her birthweight (7 lbs. 1 oz.), which is a faster regain than either of my previous children.

– I am almost positive she’s getting enough to eat. Having breastfed two other babies recently, I’m pretty sure I know what it looks and sounds like when a baby is getting enough milk (and, again, her weight gain is good). I’m working hard to keep her awake to feed as long as possible (feedings are about 20 – 40 min.) so I’m also pretty sure she’s getting enough hindmilk. She eats roughly every two hours around the clock (maybe one longer stretch without a feed at night).

I’m perplexed. The usual answer would be that she’s not getting enough milk, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Does anyone have any ideas? The pediatrician wasn’t concerned on Monday, but I think that when I take her back they’re going to treat it as if it’s a low caloric intake issue and tell me to start supplementing with formula bottles, which I’d really rather avoid if possible.

Does anyone have any ideas for this perplexing situation?


  1. betsy

    not to worry – some breast-fed babies go up to 7 or 8 days without pooping (as my first baby did) for the first couple of months. It just means that the baby is metabolizing most of the milk.

  2. FourSure

    My first dd went 17 days once without a bm. Really, I know it sounds outlandish and wrong, but it’s true. She was around 3 or 4 months at the time and it was her record, but she went several days w/o on many occasions. She was very petite, but very healthy. The docs weren’t worried. Check with your lactation consultant to verify, but I’m sure you’re okay.

  3. Jessica

    My firstborn went eight days once without pooping; she was fine. Newborns (breastfed) just do that sometimes. I mean, check with your doctor and all, but that sounds pretty normal to me. 🙂

    peace of Christ to you,
    Jessica Snell

    p.s. plus, if she’s gaining weight and peeing, you know she’s taking in a lot of milk.

  4. The Right Side

    I recall being told that wiping thier bottoms will sometimes help stimulate them to poo….I found it to be true. Good Luck!! (formula will stop them up anyways!)

  5. Veronica Mitchell

    My baby poops infrequently, too, but is fine. If you worry too much, you can always give her a suppository or enema.

    My sister had to do enemas once a week with her baby, because he had
    Hirschsprung’s disease, and was unable to poop.

  6. T. Frances

    Hi Jen,

    My first baby went 1-2 weeks between poops. Yet there was nothing wrong with him. He was very healthy. The doctor just said that he must be using every bit of nutrition in the milk!

    I don’t think this is too unusual, so hopefully your doctor won’t try to talk you into formula. On the whole, pediatricians are so much more informed and supportive of breastfeeding now than they were even ten years ago.

    If your baby were fussy or constipated, of course you would want to explore possibilities to see whether something was wrong.

    But even then, you’d be looking at areas other than what she’s eating. Since your baby is gaining weight well, you can be certain that breastfeeding is working just like it’s supposed to. 🙂

    I would give the baby a bit longer before giving her the suppository, as long as she doesn’t seem distressed or constipated. See when she poops on her own.

    I know this is hard … the ped with my first baby also recommended suppositories after the 5-day mark … but we kept extending that time frame and watching him carefully.

    After we figured out that he WOULD poop every 7-14 days (usually at about 10 days), and that the poops were normal (loose, yellow and smelled like buttered popcorn), we stopped worrying and were sort of pleased that we didn’t have to deal with poop very often.

    That pattern lasted until he was about 6 months old, when he started pooping once a day. Likely your baby is an outlier – on the extreme end of going several days without poops – just like my first.

  7. Stevie

    Ummm….I had no idea there was such a thing as a newborn with no poop! My two girls had it in every single diaper. I’m reading all of these comments and turning green with envy!! Hope it gets better soon!

  8. La gallina

    One of my babies had that problem. My midwife told me to try adding a little chocolate to my diet. I don’t know if it worked or not, but I sure enjoyed THAT medicine! And that baby is now 3 years old and perfectly healthy.

  9. Michelle

    My older daughter would go 10 days between poops, but I’m not sure if that started as soon as one week of age.

    My second daughter was NOT getting enough to eat and didn’t poop (or urinate) and I ended up on a downward spiral of supplementing that took weeks to overcome.

    The number one concern will be if she has passed all of her meconium. If that last BM was normal and not that thick tarry stuff, then you are clear of that worry. (If not, they will want to take an x-ray to see if there is a blockage.)

    If there are plenty of wet diapers and the baby is gaining weight (again, in my situation, I had neither with daughter #2), there is no justifyable reason to supplement with formula. You could take the baby in to the docs a week later to confirm weight gain and prove that formula is unnecessary.

    Once you confirm that all is well (assuming it is) and relax about your child’s less frequent BMs – rejoice! It’s a great thing for moms! But I will warn you that my daughter who did this was much more prone to constipation after I began giving her solid foods after 6 months of age. And THAT was no fun.

  10. Abigail

    This thing happened with my newborn also. Keep count of her “wet” diapers so that you can tell the ped at her 2 week appointment. If the number is normal and her weight gain is steady, no need to supplement formula. The baby is just using all the the breastmilk to grow.

  11. Milehimama

    If your baby has wet diapers and is gaining, is not lethargic or sickly, she’s fine. My second baby pooped once a week- on Thursdays – for months. He’s 8 years old now and healthy!

  12. LilyBug

    Go with your instinct. If you are concerned, please go see the doctor. Don’t take a chance. Breastmilk has a natural laxative element in it and many days without a BM is definite cause for concern. Get it checked out. She may have a slow-moving bowel or something but it’s better to know.

  13. LilyBug

    BTW, my husband uses oral gas drops to get things moving. He wanted to pass that along.

  14. Catherine

    I know this is probably distressing you, but what a problem to have! Both of my girls exploded in and out of their diapers for the first few months! I imagine your baby clothes are pristine!

    With Stevie turning green!


    I agree that if she’s peeing and gaining weight and doesn’t seem ill, she is fine. (I also had a kid who pooped every couple of days. The other six kids pooped about 16 times a day.) If the dr. recommends going to formula, I might find a different doctor. Breastmilk is much easier to digest, and formula is more likely to make baby constipated.

  16. Jennifer F.

    Thank you for all the thoughts!

    So it turns out all is well (I think). Her weight gain is really good and she doesn’t seem to be in any discomfort, so the pediatrician isn’t worried. Also, she did have a couple of BM’s last night and this morning, so I feel *much* better.

    Thank you!

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