39 answers

Breastfed Infant Is Suffering from Constipation

I was wondering how any of you have dealt with an infant suffering from constipation. I have a two month old who was going No. 2 normally up until a few days ago. The first time he went once in a period of over 36 hours and has not gone since (going on 48 hours). I hear that it is very uncommon for a breastfed babies to be constipated. My first son never suffered from this. I contacted my doctor who said to insert a thermometer up you know what to help him out. I feel like there should be a less painful/uncomfortable options. Any suggestions? What can I do to prevent it?

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i remember that some BFed babies only poop like once a week sometimes. Does he cry and sound like he is uncomfortable or is straining when he is pooping.
"In fact, at 3-6 weeks of age, breast-fed babies may only have one stool a week. This is because breast milk leaves very little waste in the intestines to be passed. Again, if the stool, when passed, is not hard, this is completely normal. In general, it is almost impossible for strictly breast-fed babies to become constipated."
from http://www.umc-cares.org/

It isn't too unusual for breastfed infants to go for a while without pooping. Unless you notice real discomfort from him, just be aware of what you are eating, rub his belly, and don't worry! My son has gone through many different pooping patterns and never a problem. Good luck!

Hi D.,
My name is B. and I am a health care practicioner.
I would reccommend that the breast feeding Mother take a little oil warmed in the palm of her hands and gently rub the baby's belly in the direction that the colon moves which is up th eright side, from right to left under belly button and down the left side.
Gently tapping can stimulate colon as well.
It is also o.k to give the baby some water in a bottle and keep the mother well hydrated.
If this persists please feel free to call on me.
I can help.
-B. Miller###-###-####

More Answers

Unless your baby has little hard poops when he does poo it is not constipation. Breastfed babies can go up to 7 days without a poo with no worries. My little one was only pooping every 3 or 4 days or so and my docs says it is totally normal. No worries ma! Their bowels are still really immature and working out the kinks so to speak. : ) Another thing you can do if it worries you or he seems in pain is lay him on his back and pump his legs towards his chest, like a bicycle, but both legs. My girl is 7 months old now and she will still go a day or two sometimes and she is completely healthy. I know it seems wierd, but if he is not in pain I would just leave it alone. Oh and please don't give water as someone said! It has been all over the news not to give babies under 6 months water, not to mention breastfed babies get all they need from mommy. : )

1 mom found this helpful

My advice is:
DRINK MORE WATER! In this weather, people are evaporating all over the place! We really need to drink more water anyway, and to help your little one is a great reason to start! It couldn't hurt!
Best,
R.

1 mom found this helpful

hi D.,
I breastfeed my son and about three/four months old he started having a bowel movement every three days. He seemed constipated, but the doctor said he was okay, I just had to watch my diet. Well, now since he has been eating solids he goes everyday and still is constipated. Just saw my dr. yesterday and told me I have a constipated baby, so I have to make sure he gets enough fiber everyday. I think we just have babies who suffer from constipation and we are going to have to be careful with their diets. My son doesn't eat rice cereal and banana. I would write down when he has bowel movements and talk to your doctor.
good luck!!!!!!!!

It is perfectly normal for a breastfed baby to go even a week or two without a bowel movement. You do not need to try and speed things along. Breastmilk doesn't have a lot of waste to its composition so sometimes the body doesn't need to eliminate as often. Check these sources out :) You will know if your baby is constipated if when he does poop it is hard little pellets - as long as the poop is soft when he does go he should be fine!

http://pediatrics.about.com/od/weeklyquestion/a/04_bf_cns...

http://www.llli.org/FAQ/bm.html

I have a 7 month-old baby and when he got constipated my mother made prune tea for him. It worked great. To prepare a prune tea is easy. Just add a dry prune to an 8oz. of boiling water. Let the water boil for couple more minutes with the prune. Let the tea get completely cold before offering to your baby. Give one ounce every 8 hours. I wish your baby can get better. Mine did!

I remember thinking my daughter was constipated because she didn't poop for about a week. I too was only breastfeeding her and my lactation consultant told me that constipated is when they NEED to poop and are in pain. Just not pooping is not constipation... I took this advice over the pediatrician's that said to give juice (which actually constipates more BTW!).

Your baby is probably using all the nutrients from your breastmilk to grow and therefore has nothing to excrete!

Enjoy your baby!

My friendʻs baby, who was breastfed didnʻt go for 21 days.
Her Doctor was going to do something on the 22nd day..

Be happy that you donʻt have to change all those nappies..

Thanks D. for writing! I too am having this trouble with my 2 month old son, so it is helpful to know that I am not alone! It's frustrating as a mom not to know all the answers regarding out babies! Good luck and I hope he goes soon, just for your peace of mind sake! :)

The thermometer works.
It isn't painful for your baby, but constipation is.
Use some vaseline on the end of the thermometer and on the babies bottom and only stick it in as much as you would to take the babies temperature.

I did this with both of my boys whenever they had constipation and it worked every time.
My doctor also told me that it is okay to give them a little juice after 3 months. So a little prune juice would help as well. Gerber makes a baby one.

Good Luck!

Here's an excerpt from babycenter.com:

""David Geller, pediatrician
A newborn can have as many as eight to ten bowel movements a day, but as long as she is having at least one, she's probably all right. One day without a bowel movement is usually no cause for concern. As long as your baby is feeding well and wetting her diaper five or six times a day, then she's most likely getting enough to eat. If she starts to become uncomfortable or has a persistently swollen abdomen, then she may need some help with pooping, and you should speak to your pediatrician about how to facilitate this.""

Also, my good friend's first baby rarely pooped at all in the first months of life (maybe once or twice a week). Her second pooped all the time. She exclusively breastfeeds both.
She told me that her pediatrician said it was okay as long as she was peeing and that it just means her body is processing the rest. Hope this helps.

Hi D.,

Lots of suggestions for this from others so I would look at what you are eating and add a probiotic to your diet, taking one in the morning and one at night (start off with one at night for a few days then move onto the second one). This is something that will benefit your baby and you.

Another thing to look at is why was everything normal for the first two months and now a change. Did this occur after vaccinations? If so, it could be an immune system response.

i remember that some BFed babies only poop like once a week sometimes. Does he cry and sound like he is uncomfortable or is straining when he is pooping.
"In fact, at 3-6 weeks of age, breast-fed babies may only have one stool a week. This is because breast milk leaves very little waste in the intestines to be passed. Again, if the stool, when passed, is not hard, this is completely normal. In general, it is almost impossible for strictly breast-fed babies to become constipated."
from http://www.umc-cares.org/

Hi D.,
It is my understanding that this is NOT constipation. It is perfectly normal for a breast-fed baby to go DAYS without pooping. My son did. And though it seemed really strange to me at the time, it turned out to be more uncomfortable for me than him. Our pediatrician said that if he didn't seem bothered by it, not to worry. But if he did seem uncomfortable, I could use a glycerin suppository. I didn't want him to become dependent on them (not even knowing if that's possible) so I only resorted to that twice after it had been five days. Anyway, try not to worry about it and best of luck. Oh, and congrats on the little one and also for continuing to breastfeed!

My daughter is going through this now. It has been 6 days now since she had a bowel movement...we tried the thermometer up her rear and even a glycerine stick as well....so it just turns out that if your baby is breastfed, some will go up to 10 days without a bm. I have done a ton of research since this has been happening...breastmilk does not have waste like formula does, so there is not much to expell all the time. Your baby is not constipated, but the gas buildup is uncomforable for them, so it seems like they are trying to push out poop when it's just gas.

My breastfed baby would occasionally go a day or two without pooping and once went 6 days. We just waited and eventually she'd poop. I wouldn't stress on it.

My daughter was exclusivly breast fed. Around 2 months she stopped having bowel movements as frequently. From everything I have read this is normal. BF babies may go 4+ days without a bowel movement. As long as the bowel is still loose he is not constipated. He may just be adjusting and his bowels maturing. The book Baby 411 talks about this and also What to Expect the 1st Year. Good luck.

My son is 5 months and has also had some periodic constipation. We have used the thermometer method 2 or 3 times and it has helped. I think it is more uncomfortable for us then the babies. He squirmed a little but not much and did not let out a peep. Just make sure to use vaseline and move gently. Good luck.

D.,

It isn't unusual for a breastfed baby to not poop every day after they get through that initial pooping constantly phase. It is only constipation if they baby is straining and uncomfortable. Some breastfed babies will go a week or more without pooping with no discomfort. Breastmilk is highly digestable with very little waste so there isn't always much to poop out especially during growth spurts.

If you baby is uncomfortable, you can get things moving by giving some apple or prune juice. If you don't want to do that, you can try baby glycerine suppositories. My son got super constipated when he was sick (to the point where we took him to quick care because we had no idea why he was screaming). The oral laxitives all said they took at least 8-10 hours to work and that is a really long time to be in pain. So I used one of the Babylax suppositories and he pooped within 30 seconds and was a MUCH happier baby. While it isn't my idea of a good time to stick a suppository up my son's but, it was highly preferable to listening to him scream in pain.

If he is constipated, it is probably something in your diet and you may want to cut down on the amount of dairy you are eating. I don't know why but any time I'd eat a huge amount of dairy (like cheese pizza) with my first son, it would constipate him. My second son is highly allergic to dairy and couldn't tolerate any dairy in my diet at all.

:-)T.

Both my kids were breastfed and they both had constipation when they were babies. I was told that this is just plain common, breastfed or not. In fact, both my kids went as long as a week without a BM sometimes. It didn't happen too often, but more than once for each of them. Making sure you are hydrated is important, but otherwise, unless he develops other symptoms, I wouldn't worry about it. We tried the thermometer in the tushy, too. This actually worked for my daughter and not for my son. One thing to be, well, as ready as you can be for: all the poop that's going to come out when he does unplug!!! Have lots of wipes ready. =0) If it goes longer than a week, then ask your doc., again.
My two cents....hope it helps. I know it can be a bit nerve-wracking.
Be strong and laugh often, while enjoying those wonderful babes.
L. =0)

get children's suppositories..i used them once in awhile on my son..doc said it was fine..worked like a charm...just don't over do it.

I know it sounds so invasive, but we had to do it too! My husband and I had to do rock, paper, scissors to decide who would have to do it. It really does the trick and there is no more suffering for your little guy! Imagine how uncomfortable he is. Just remember one thing that we wished out doctor had also mentioned... when you insert the thermometer step back because it may be explosive! My daughter just about shot my husband in the face. We barely had to insert the thermometer before we had the result. The good thing is your son will not remember a thing and have instant relief!

It is amazing what we mothers go through with our kids. My sister-in-law taught me to take a big dollop of Vaseline on the end of a Q-tip and insert it and move it around. After you do this a couple of time it creates a lot of lubrication, plus the stimulation of the anus helps with the urge to go. Good luck!

It is normal, so don't worry. If your baby is uncomfortable you can massage his bottom with A&D after bath to speed things up. Just gently massage the area, no need to stick something up there! Or if you're comfortable giving water at this young age, about 2oz of warm water will help too. Great job breast feeding!

water-my niece went through the same thing. they gave her a small amount of water regularly. Not too much because that will lower their electrolytes.
good luck

It isn't too unusual for breastfed infants to go for a while without pooping. Unless you notice real discomfort from him, just be aware of what you are eating, rub his belly, and don't worry! My son has gone through many different pooping patterns and never a problem. Good luck!

I did not read all the responses, but my son had this issue also - it was about 4 days before he went. He was exclusively breastfed, our Pediatrician suggested we bicycle his legs, let me tell you we probably bicycled to the east coast and back!!! BUT it worked. He went, it didn't explode like everyone says, but it was a "healthy" amount!

Good Luck!

Hi D.,

When my daughter was about that age, she too was pooping everyday and up to about 1 and a half to months she would poop every other day, sometimes every 2 or 3 days. I also breastfed my baby, up to this day (she is 5 months). My pediatrician advised to give her one ounce apple juice mixed with one ounce of water if she doesn't poop in 3 days. What I did was, I drank the glass of apple juice, and there she goes poop. So I think it has a lot to do with your diet since you are breastfeeding. Eat a lot of vegetables regularly and drink your apple juice at least one glass a day. It worked so much for me.
Second, although it is better that babies go poop everyday, breastfed babies sometimes do not poop everyday, since breastmilk is totally used up by the body, there is nothing much left to poop out.

Goodluck!

E., mother of 5 month old daughter, Kailani

You shouldn't freak out just yet breast fed babies can go up to 12 days with out a poop, It's not constipation unless the baby is in pain. but just try to increase you're water intake and change you diet like maybe some more fruit and less fat or sugar and it may help. My first child did this a lot for a few months then it all of a sudden she was normal,

Hi D.,
My name is B. and I am a health care practicioner.
I would reccommend that the breast feeding Mother take a little oil warmed in the palm of her hands and gently rub the baby's belly in the direction that the colon moves which is up th eright side, from right to left under belly button and down the left side.
Gently tapping can stimulate colon as well.
It is also o.k to give the baby some water in a bottle and keep the mother well hydrated.
If this persists please feel free to call on me.
I can help.
-B. Miller###-###-####

In my experience with my kids, constipation is determined more by level of comfort rather than frequency. Is your little one straining more than usual during a bowel movement? Does he seem to have discomfort? Is his stool hard and dry? My first baby (who was exclusively breastfed) had a pattern much like what you are describing. She was going normally until she was 5 or 6 weeks old, and then would only have a bowel movement every few days or even longer. Her pediatrician said it is within the normal range, so long as she isn't acting like she is uncomfortable or having discomfort while going.

I still worried a bit about it even though my daughter seemed fine, so my husband developed a great system for trying to help her digestive system. He'd lay her on her back and press her knees up gently, and bicycle them around. He'd rub her tummy and her back. I don't know if it helped, but it made me feel better and our daughter seemed to enjoy it.

Good luck!

My oldest was like your oldest and never suffered form that at all. My second my son on the other hand went 5 days with nothing. When he finally went we were so relieved we decided to keep count from then on. I noticed what helped me to go and made sure that I consumed some every day so that he would go. That worked great for us. Now with my third I find my self having to do that again. If I am having a problem then she dose as well. Same with gas. On the other hand I have two friends whose little ones have had problems and they found that it had to do with allergies. If it goes more that 5 days I would take your little one to the doctor. Some doc.s think it is ok to go longer than that. Mine said that if he ever went that long again I was to bring him in right away.

your baby may not have constipation. according to our pediatrician, it's not uncommon for babies that are breastfed to not have a bowel movement for a few days; they can go up to 7 days without one because breastmilk is full of nutrients that your baby needs and practically nothing is wasted. if your baby has not had a bowel movement after that period of time, then call your pediatrician. both my daughters had a period when they did not have a movement for a few days when i was still nursing them. good luck!

Hi D.,
I don't know if things have changed over the last 4 years, (they usually do), but when I was nursing my son, his doctor said breastfead babies don't usually get constipated. They don't have bowel movements as often as bottle fed babies. He said it's common for a breastfead baby to go even 5 days with no bowel movements at all. I don't know the accuracy of this information, but it's worth checking out. Good luck.

Usually the constipation is due to the iron content in the formula. The first thing to try is giving bottles of water as well as bottles of formula. If that doesn't work, ask the doctor if you can try a formula with a lower iron content as long as your child is not anemic. If you are giving both a formula with iron and an iron supplement, it may be too much iron. Also, sometimes switching to a soy or vegetable formula will help. Breastmilk has a different type of iron in it that is more readily digested.

It's not as uncommon as you would think. My son, breastmilk only as well went thru a constipation stage at about this same age. We fed him straight prune juioce and apple juice (at the suggestion of our Dr.) instead of milk for one feeding a day and it helped out quite a bit. It wasn't until he was about 4-5 months that we could cut out the juice. Warm baths while massaging his stomach helped relieve the pain for him.

my friend had 2 kids that had very different and very normal bowel movement patterns. one went everyday and one went once a week. so normal is very relative. it also changes as your baby changes. my oldest used to poop after every feeding! thank goodness she doesn't still do that.

look to your baby. is he uncomfortable? if not, don't worry, i'm sure he'll poop sometime. if there is no poop and he becomes uncomfortable, then you should step in.

and stimulating his bowels with a thermometer is less harmful than giving him additional water. remember, breastmilk is about 80% water.

Have you tried giving your baby some water in between feeds? I know that it sucks to think that you may have to stick the thermometer up there but it does work, well more like petroleum jelly or lubricant. Thats what I used to do, and I was always told what I eat is what your baby eats when you are breastfeeding. Hope that helps!

As a doctor, I can tell you that your doctor should have told you that BF babies will have anywhere from one BM per 10 days to 10 per day. As long as it is soft, mustard color, you have nothing to worry about and no reason to put anything in his rectum. If the stool is firm or he is struggling (crying, etc not just groaning which most babies do), you can give a baby over 2mo old up to 2 ounces of water per day.

Hi
Both my exclusively breast-fed babies did the same thing. In fact, my sister was visiting, and she was the one that noticed my son hadnt pooped for 3 days!!!!! Doctor said it was normal. Unless he is straining or uncomfortable. If you are really worried you could try giving him some prunce juice in a bottle - if he will take a bottle that is
good luck

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