20 answers

7 Week Old Baby Struggling with Bowel Movements

I have a friend whose baby has struggled ever since he was born. He is breastfed. He's 7 weeks now. He screams, holds his breath, pushes, grunts, his face turns red, he cries whenever he needs to fill his diaper. Sometimes he does this for hours until finally he has his bowel movement. Then he is so relieved and exhausted. His stools are not hard or constipated, they look regular, but I really think that something is going on!
Her doctor and her family tell her that his little system is so new that he's just trying to figure things out. But I've seen him, and it looks extremely painful. I think she should see a specialist. But am I just overreacting? Have any of you seen this or experienced this? My babies had no problems pooping. No struggles. Some gas pains here and there, but nothing like this baby. Thanks for any advice...

Update.. she went to the doctor today and he just said it is gas. But she's given her baby mylecon drops and gripe water, but doesn't see a difference. I know when my babies had gas, mylecon worked wonders. She also gives him warm baths, a warm rice pack on his tummy, changes his positions, massages, and does the "bicycle." Still she was just told today that she's over reacting (in a kind way, but still..)

What can I do next?

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my sister has found that mylcon drops if used a lot constipate her babies. I like Gripe Water. I works wonders for my gassy baby (I know that's not the problem) I would suggest she really watch her diet and drink tons of water 3+ quarts a day. If it doesn't resolve I think I would consider a specialist or a second opinion. For the gripe water you can find it at health food stores or find recipes online for it... that is much cheaper!

My nice had the same problem and finally after talin her to the dr. 8 times they found that her butthole was smaler than normal. They had to use supostories to help strech it. After a few days she ws all better.

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Hi N.. I would recommend she visit a specialist just to be sure. It could be gas- gas can be very painful, but that doesn't sound normal to me. I have a friend who's son had similar trouble having bowel movements and there was actually an abnormality with his anus. He would push and push, turn red, and sometimes would actually push so hard he would vomit. Somehow his anus was smaller than usual and wasn't stretching so he underwent a surgery to correct the problem. It did the trick.

He screams for hours? Like more so in the evening? My daughter had extreme colic and she did the same things without the bowel movement. If this only happens when he needs a BM discard this response :)My daughter turned all kinds of colors screaming and looking like she was in pain. I was breast feeding and got tired of trying to cut out all kinds of things from my diet so I switched to formula and nothing changed. We tried gripe water which I think made it less severe but she had colic and screaming. Mylcon didn't work at all. She finally out grew it between five and six months. Good luck!

You did not state whether the baby is breast fed or formula fed. A breast fed baby can get constipation, but it can be fixed by the mother checking out her diet and eating foods that promote regularity (i.e. yogurt, apples, prunes, etc). A formula fed baby has higher likelihood of constipation because formula is harder to digest. If the baby is formula fed, changing formulas is an option, but needs to be done with precaution. As I am a breastfeeding mom, I can help more in that area. I am not well-versed on formulas that are easier on the tummy. Check out kellymom.com for more tips. I hope that helps some.

Have a GREAT day!

My baby had trouble with bowel movements as well. His stools were a little hard though. My doctor said that his sphincter was too small. He gave me rubber gloves and told me to stretch it a couple times a day. This wasn't fun, and my baby cried, but it did the job in a week or two, and he didn't have problems after that. I don't know if this is the problem or not where her baby's stools are not hard. Maybe it is worth a try though!

my sister has found that mylcon drops if used a lot constipate her babies. I like Gripe Water. I works wonders for my gassy baby (I know that's not the problem) I would suggest she really watch her diet and drink tons of water 3+ quarts a day. If it doesn't resolve I think I would consider a specialist or a second opinion. For the gripe water you can find it at health food stores or find recipes online for it... that is much cheaper!

My nice had the same problem and finally after talin her to the dr. 8 times they found that her butthole was smaler than normal. They had to use supostories to help strech it. After a few days she ws all better.

My first baby went through exactly the same thing. We, too, tried everything we could think of to help him. Then I asked our pediatrician and I was surprised by what he said. He said that sometimes a baby's rectum and anal opening are so tight (particularly if it is a small baby) that when their stool starts to thicken a little bit (at around 6 weeks of age), they can't push it out. He then used his finger to gently stretch out his little opening and it worked. It was a little uncomfortable for the baby for a few minutes, but it was worth it.
The Dr. also told me to use a rectal thermometer to help stimulate a bowel movement if he should appear to be straining. We did that a few times, and before long things were moving along just fine.

One more thing - before we took our baby into the Dr., one thing that seemed to help him was to put him in a warm bath when he was pushing and straining to have a B.M. The warm water help to relax those little muscles and let things stretch enough to allow things to move out.

My little girl had the same problem. I also thought there must be something wrong! The Dr. told me the same thing, Mylicon drops, warm bath... She was born two weeks early and the GI Dr (we eventually visited) said babies have to learn to poop. Like potty training they have to find the right muscles to make things move. The best advise I got, which we used a lot! Is the Q-Tip trick. Lube up a regular Q-tip (not the safety baby ones). Insert the cotton end of the Q-Tip and turn it a half turn, wait a few seconds and turn again. You'll see the baby push and squirm a little trying to "get it out". You're helping them find the right muscles. You can hold it there untill they poop. I still use this on my 13 month old when she gets constipated.

i did not experience this with my children, but my girlfriend did. her mother was a pediatric nurse. she taught her to stimulate the bowel with an anal thermometer. simply pretend you are going to take the baby's temp. you only need to insert a short distance. maybe half and inch or so. leave it there for maybe 30 secs. see if she has success.

Sometimes when the mom is taking iron (like in prenatal vitamins) that can make a breastfed baby constipated. On the other hand, some breastfed babies only poop about once per week. I had one like that. When she went it was huge and would take a while to finish, but it didn't hurt. If you check breastfeeding books you will find that for some breastfed babies this is normal. Then others will poop every time you feed them.

Besides being the Director of Dreamcatcher, I teach infant massage. It is different than just "giving massages." In 15 years I have never not seen it help any baby with pooping unless there was something anatomically wrong. Please call me and I will teach the Mom what to do over the phone, if I have to. The baby does not have to suffer. Promise. Iris Lee ###-###-####

I would definitely look at what the mom is eating. My daughter had horrible gas and struggled with her bm's and it was because I was drinking "regular" milk. We switched to lactose free and it got better. We still had to do the gas drops because I would still eat cheese but it did get better. And I also noticed broccoli caused problems too. She may just have to keep track of what she is eating and limit it to see if he gets better. I hope they can figure it out. Poor baby/mom!

My stepbrother/cuz use to have that problem when he was born. His mother took him in and she was told the same thing, but being a mother something told her they werent right, she seen a different doc and they told her his intestines were twisted, She use to have to help him push out his poo. He was taken in for surgery and he has never had a problem since. So I dont think your over reacting, I think your friend needs to stand up to the doc and say no there is something wrong now do what you have to, to find out what it is. I went through kinda the same thing, but my daughter only has constipation. I never stood up to the doc I listened to him, and now becuase I was very young and stupid my daughter has to deal with cronic constipation for the rest of her life. So please help her get a back bone and tell them to do something.

My two cents - it's normal. Breast fed or not, some babies take a little bit to learn how to poop! My youngest was the same - she was solely breastfed, I paid close attention to what I ate, but it was still a struggle for her. I think a lot of it was her being a little scared of the feeling and not knowing what the feeling was and how to make it stop. They'll grow out of it though - good luck to your friend!

I breastfed twins, and I had one who had these same type of symptoms. Turned out, what I was eating made a HUGE difference. I made sure to only eat VERY mild (read: boring) foods. Don't eat greasy food, gas producing food (beans, broccoli) especially, no chocolate. I also avoided anything with a strong taste, one was very sensitive to that as well. It made my cuisine boring, but it helped them SO much. Also, drink a TON of water.

People will say this stuff doesn't matter, but most of them also complain that their babies have "colic" or "reflux" as well. It definitely mattered to my babies.

My second child (who is now 3 months) was the exact same way from about 2-8 weeks. It got pretty bad just when he needed to go the bathroom and he would cry in pain & act constipated even though he was going often enough and it wasn't hard. I talked to different doctors & they all said he wasn't constipated & was fine since he was exclusively breastfed. They did say mylicon was a "placebo" and it really wouldn't help though. I tried changing my diet. Found "overactive letdown" which seemed to fit the description. Still the symptoms continued till about 8-9 weeks. And then he was okay. Not sure why, but maybe her baby will be the same and the worst is almost over.

My friends little girl had this problem and it turned out she wasn't getting oxygen to her lower half due to a heart problem. Your friend should continue to follow her instincts and see someone else. This little girl was diagnosed by the EMT on the way to the hospital! Thank goodness someone new what could be wrong even though two other doctors didn't catch this.
Good luck.

That does sound strange. My first son was breastfed and his poop looked like peanut butter. That counts as constipated for a breastfed baby. So my doctor had me give him 1/2 apple juice 1/2 water, about 4 oz a day. As long as he had that, he didn't have any sort of discomfort and it kept the "peanut butter" away.
But my son never had a problem like that! He would just look uncomfortable, and fuss a little, and then fill his diaper, and THAT was enough to tip me off to a problem.

It gets complicated when it's not YOUR baby, but maybe the mom would be up to the suggestion of juice?

My son, now two, had almost identical story. I was sick of doctors telling me it was normal or nothing to worry about. I could not breast feed so we started playing with formula. Your friend might try cutting milk from her diet and see if that works. My son did better on lacto free diet for the first year. However, I am guessing there is nothing seriously wrong, my second son, now 6 months, had similar and we put him on lacto free right away. My doctor said that could not be it, but it worked so go figure. Anyway, I would say that it his little system adjusting to being out.

Hi N.,
I agree with your sense that something bigger might be going on. Breast fed babes never have trouble pooping...in fact it's formula that makes them "stuffed up." Are you sure that you're friend isn't supplementing? That often happens when a new mom's confidence gets shaken, and she worries that she's doing something wrong.
Otherwise, if she is nursing is exclusively, I would encourage her constantly and also remind her that she would also want to be careful about eating onions, coffee, chocolate, and garlic as well as broccoli...gas producing foods that aren't easy on the digestive tract. Those can create so much gas that a poo would be painful because of the gas and tummy upset. I'd remind her to stick with foods along the lines of farm cookin,' if that makes sense. Chicken, noodles, rice, fresh veggies, salad, potatoes, fruit. If that doesn't help in about a day or two, then baby might have an allergy? Other intestinal issues? Has she tried a few drops of Mylicon in a bottle of pumped breast milk?
I definitely agree that the advice from the pediatrician about waiting it out doesn't seem quite right if you've seen first hand what kind of pain he's in. Always go with your intuitive feeling that something feels wrong and don't question your instinct to act on that, because no one will advocate for that little baby like his mom and her friends.
Good luck!!

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