Basic things to learn if you have a breastfeeding baby constipated
Seeing a breastfeeding baby constipated can trigger parents to overthink a lot of stuff. But relax, you need to know some details before panicking. In young infants, the schedule of pooping is quite variable which makes frequency a poor indicator of constipation. So to define constipation in young infants, bowel movements play an important role.
A breastfeeding baby is said to be constipated if he has sluggish bowel movements along with hard pellet-like stools which are very difficult to pass.
Normal poop schedule in young infants
The schedule of pooping in young infants is highly variable. A baby who is exclusively on breastfeeding can go up to 2 weeks without passing stool. The reason is that breast milk is a pure form of nutrition for your baby with minimum waste. This makes pooping frequency low.
On the other hand, babies can even poop up to 6 times after every meal. This schedule is normal as well. However, it is seen that babies having formula feed instead of breast milk develop constipation more frequently.
Symptoms of a breastfeeding baby constipated
As the frequency is a poor indicator of constipation, it is hard to judge when your baby is constipated. Here are a few indicators which can help you assess whether the baby is constipated or not:
- The baby has a tight, firm, and distended abdomen.
- He passes hard stools like pellets.
- Often cries while pooping.
- Reluctant to feed.
- You can find bleeding along with hard stools because of the tearing of the anal wall or sphincter.
Reasons for having breastfeeding baby constipated
It is pretty rare to find a breastfeeding baby constipated before 6 months because of the digestive nature of breast milk. Constipation usually occurs after 6 months when formula milk or solid diet is started. Here are some causes of constipation in a breastfeeding baby:
If your baby’s diet contains rice it can cause constipation as it absorbs water in the gut and makes the stool hard. If this is the case you should switch to barely or oatmeal for your baby.
Cow milk is more notorious for causing constipation as compared to breast milk.
This fruit is a serious culprit of constipation and it is supposed to mess with the baby’s electrolytes causing constipation.
Fibers make the stools soft and easy to pass. With fewer fibers in your baby’s diet, there is more chance of him having constipation. Things like white pasta and bread have low fiber content and you should avoid them.
Liquids make stool soft. There should be plenty of liquids in your baby’s diet if there is a complaint of constipation.
Stressful conditions like travel or heat can cause constipation. It normally relieves with rest and a healthy diet.
Constipation is often associated with other sicknesses like common cold or infection. In such situations, it is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, anorexia, and other symptoms of the disease.
Multiple medical diseases can cause constipation in young infants. However, you should consult a doctor and should not take them lightly as these can slow the growth of the baby.
Constipation remedies – If you have a breastfeeding baby constipated
Here are a few home remedies which can help with the constipation problem of the breastfed baby:
You should add fruits and vegetables to your diet as they contain higher fiber content. If rice is causing constipation, you should switch it for barely and oatmeal.
Give plenty of fluids to your baby. It helps with the general condition of the baby and helps with the irritation besides softening the stool.
Gently rubbing the baby’s abdomen in a circular motion especially around the umbilicus helps with constipation. It stimulates the digestive system and helps with excretion of the stool outside the body.
Moving the hands and legs back and forth like riding a bicycle stimulate the digestive tract helps the baby poop. You can also place your baby on his tummy and encourage him to squirm with a toy. The theme is to increase the activity of the baby which in turn activates the digestive system to relieve constipation.
When to seek consultation if having a breastfeeding baby constipated?
So when is the right time to seek consultation? Constipation can be irritating for the baby and you shouldn’t hesitate if your gut says you to seek help from a doctor. However, here are a few indicators which can help you make the decision:
- Constipation is persisting for a long time and home remedies are not effective.
- The baby is irritated and distressed.
- Your baby is not eating.
- There is a fever or vomiting associated with constipation.
- Your baby’s belly is tender and distention.
Can the mother’s diet be a reason for having a breastfeeding baby constipated?
Your baby is too little at this time and is completely dependent on you. From nutrition to protection everything depends on you. This makes healthy eating an important factor. If you are taking good care of yourself your baby is going to be healthy.
However, the mother’s diet does not affect constipation. A popular Korean study carried out in 2017 showed that the mother’s diet has no relation to constipation in the breastfeeding baby. Thus, adding fibers or hydration to the mother’s diet will not affect the baby. Breast milk develops from the blood not the digestive system, therefore, what you eat has little to no effect on the baby.
However, your baby gets all the nutrition from breast milk. Thus eating a healthy diet is always necessary for the well being of your baby.