Important: Are you eating? Stop that right now, and possibly for half an hour after you’ve finished reading this. It is about poo, after all. By Robyn Wilder.
The Darkness, or your newborn’s first poo
After you’ve given birth, you may find yourself in the slightly discombobulating position of rummaging through wet nappy after wet nappy (or studying your baby’s facial expressions), eager to see your baby’s first poo. Welcome to parenthood. Don’t worry, it will come – generally within 48 hours of birth – and when it does, it will probably be sticky, and black as night. This is meconium, which your baby will have been working on while still in the womb, and it’s made up of amniotic fluid, mucus, and other bits and bobs. Despite its appearance, it’s generally not very smelly, and is a sign that your baby’s digestive system is working well.
Green Days, or your newborn’s subsequent poos
Once your baby’s poo-making bits have warmed up – between two and four days after birth – you should start seeing paler, greener deposits in the nappy. Again, this is a good sign, and what comes next will depend on whether your baby is drinking formula or breast-milk (spoiler: it will still be poo, though).
Blancmange, or poo from breastfed babies
Breastfed babies may poo once every couple of days, or every time they feed – but their poos are generally yellowy, sludge-like affairs, with bits in. Green, frothy poo can indicate that the baby’s getting too much foremilk – the first load of thirst-quenching milk that comes in before the fattier, more nutritious stuff – so try feeding for longer sessions at each breast to see if that helps. Sorry if you can never eat blancmange again, by the way – but how often did you eat it anyway?
Tangerine Dream, or poo from formula-fed babies
Formula-fed babies tend to poo more often than breastfed babies, and their poo looks different, too: wetter, lumpier, and browner – like watered-down crunchy peanut butter (sorry to spoil another favourite foodstuff, here). Formula poos are also smellier than breastfed poos – which may sound bad – but the reality is it’s handy to know exactly when you need to change a nappy.
Honorable poo mentions
Black-Eyed Peas (iron-supplemented poos): Any iron supplements may turn your baby’s poo into an alarming, but perfectly safe, greeny-black mess.
The Rolling Stones (constipated poos): You generally see the pebbly poos of constipation when introducing food, and they may be preceded by grunts of discomfort.
Bowling For Soup (baby diarrhoea): Baby diarrhoea tends to be browny-green, very watery (hence soup; sorry) and, sadly, explosive. Try and keep up fluids with a diarrhoeic baby, to prevent dehydration.
Doctor and the Medics (call them if you find this in your baby’s poo!): Slime! If your baby’s drooling, you may also find mucus in their poo; but it can be a sign of infection, so give your doctor a call. It’s worth getting your baby checked out if they produce more than two nappies of diarrhoea or constipation. Blood in the poo – even the smallest amount – can indicate an injury or bacterial infection, and black poos (in babies not receiving iron supplements) may be down to digested blood – either way, it’s best to call your doctor as soon as you can.
And finally… cake!
This is no less than you deserve for navigating the wonderful world of baby poo. Provided you haven’t completely lost your appetite, of course.