M is for Meconium

Your baby’s first bowel movement is called meconium.  Meconium is nearly black and extremely sticky, it also typically doesn’t smell.  This first poop usually passes in the first 24 hours of life.  This first stool is comprised of lanugo, amniotic fluid, shed skin cells, and anything else floating in the uterus with the baby.  To help with diaper clean up consider rubbing a small layer of Vaseline on your baby’s bottom before putting on the diaper.  For the first few days of life your baby will have meconium before it starts to transition to breastfed or formula fed poop, to learn more about these stools and other baby diaper expectations, read my blog on D is for Diapers.  If your baby hasn’t passed meconium in the first 2 days of life they may not eat well, may begin vomiting, and could end up having a bloated belly.  If any of this occurs, your doctors will begin checking for what conditions may be causing this complication.  To figure out if there is a problem your baby may need and X-ray or other tests.  This is not a very common occurrence; the most common complication with meconium is if your baby swallows it.

There is a risk that your baby could pass and swallow meconium while in utero.  This can happen at any time, but typically occurs closer to your due date or if you are past due.  If your baby passes and swallows meconium this is called meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS).  When your baby passes meconium in utero the amniotic fluid is tinted green and is identified when your water breaks.  MAS can be a very serious problem, but most cases are not severe.  This may occur if your baby is overdue, if your baby is stressed due to an infection or a health problem in your pregnancy, or simply due to the stress of childbirth.  If you have a bad response to a medication this could also cause your baby to become stressed and pass meconium.  If your baby passes meconium in utero, they may not necessarily swallow it.  However, if meconium is swallowed it could block your baby’s airways and irritate them as he/she breathes.  If your water is tinted before or at delivery the nurses will thoroughly examine your baby at birth.  If he/she appears fine and passes the APGAR test, you will likely still be able to do immediate skin-to-skin.  However, if your baby is not breathing well or shows other signs of distress the nurses may need to insert an endotracheal tube and apply suctioning while the tube is removed to remove any meconium from your baby’s lungs and airways.  After this your baby may need the help of a CPAP to ensure they are breathing okay.  Your baby may also need antibiotics to treat any infection the meconium might have caused.  If your baby inhales a large volume or thick clump of meconium they may experience more serious complications requiring more intense treatments and resulting in possible long-term complications. 

Did you have any tinting of your amniotic fluid?  How did it affect your baby?

Next I will be blogging on the letter N… N is for Nursery.