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Let's Talk About Stools (Not the Bar Kind)

Growing up, I remember hearing my mom share that you lose all sense of modesty by the end of your pregnancy and childbirth experience. After countless doctor’s appointments, labor and delivery, and postnatal checkups you become accustomed to areas of your body that are usually very private becoming “the main event.”

That focus quickly shifts to your infant upon his entrance into the world, and in the same manner, subject matter that is usually reserved for health class suddenly becomes fair game in everyday conversation. In the same breath you will find yourself informing your husband what’s for dinner along with the fact that Junior has a red rash on his rear end due to diarrhea. Your vocabulary quickly expands to include words that, well, let’s just say you wouldn’t share at a cocktail party.

And for good reason. In those first months, most of your newborn care will involve dealing with what “goes in” your baby and what “comes out.” It is the latter that I am addressing in this article. There are a few things I’d like to share about what comes out of “the other end” and what to do.

Let the hospital nurses teach you – The nurses that will be taking care of you in the hospital will also be taking care of your newborn. This includes changing baby’s diaper, at least until you are recovered enough to do so yourself. At a certain point they will likely ask if you’d like to change it yourself. This is a great time to try it and ask as many questions as you can, keeping in mind there is no such thing as a stupid question! Just because you’re a mommy doesn’t mean you automatically know how to change an infant’s diaper. Or what the contents are supposed to look like. Ask questions about both the “how” as well as the “what” – inquiries about color, size and texture.

Know your stools – Did you know that it’s normal for the color to be green and yellow? Did you know that breastfed stools will look different than formula ones? Or that stools will vary slightly if baby is on any medication? Or that there is an entirely different word altogether for your baby’s first poop? (Psst – it’s called meconium.) Before baby arrives, I recommend checking out the “infant stools” section in your baby book of choice. It looks different than one might expect. It is important to have an understanding of what “normal” looks like, as well as how to identify constipation and diarrhea.

Patterns in First 7 Days – The first five days will offer the most variety. Here’s a quick cheat sheet of what to expect:

1-2 days old: Thick, tarry and black color

3-4 days old: Greenish-yellow color

5 days old: Yellow color with watery, seedy or mustard-like texture

By 5-7 days: 3-4 stools/day

Have your resources ready, including pictures – Have a great book on hand to reference. (Baby 411 was our quick “go to.”) More helpful is actually a picture guide. Put down your lunch before clicking on the following link:

Get stocked up on supplies – It is not uncommon for newborns to have diarrhea. This is not necessarily cause for alarm. (Though diarrhea can cause dehydration so definitely call your pediatrician if the problem persists). If this is the case, you will be changing diapers as often as hourly. And you very well may be dealing with diaper rash. Have plenty (and I mean plenty) of diapers on hand as well as plenty of diaper rash cream. I personally always had 3 levels of cream – a basic cream like Desitin, a thicker cream like Triple Paste, and then a powder that can be mixed with cream – which is the heaviest line of defense. Learn more by reading my past blog article.

Almost-worst case scenario, and worst case scenario – Worst case scenario is that your baby DOES have diarrhea – bad – and the constant irritation causes a bleeding diaper rash that keeps getting worse. Your child’s pediatrician will advise you what to do. This rarely happens, so don’t let this fear keep you up at night. The “almost” worse case scenario is, however, quite possible, and we went through it with both our second and third child. Both experienced diarrhea that caused a rash so bad that they were bleeding. But it was manageable. Our remedy - that ultimately was successful - was to check (and change) the diaper very often, using either mild baby wipes or simply a wet cloth. With each diaper change we liberally applied our concoction of Stomahesive powder mixed in with Desitin. And we bathed baby 1-2 times each day, airing baby out (no diaper) for 10-20 minutes. We got through it, and – if the same thing happens to your baby – so will you.

Again, these are simply tips from my personal mommy perspective. This article is not meant to comprehensively address all that goes on with “the other end.” Remember to read up on this before your little bundle arrives so that you are as prepared as possible. And next time, let’s talk about the stools you find at Crate and Barrel instead. Deal?

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