Meconium - Be Empowered Birth Series

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Be Empowered Birth Series

Meconium is a baby’s first stool. It is very dark and sticky, almost tar-like, and comprises baby’s first few bowel movements after birth. It is difficult to wipe clean, so if you can remember amid everything else that happens right after birth to spread some coconut oil over baby’s diaper area, this can make the first few diaper changes much easier! Once mother’s milk transitions from colostrum to mature breastmilk, the composition of baby’s diaper will slowly change from black meconium, to greenish transitional stool, to the seedy, yellow, soft stools that are typical of breastfed babies.

Occasionally, meconium may also be passed in utero before the baby is born; sometimes this is an indication that the baby is in distress, but it may also be because the baby is near or past 40 weeks gestation and simply moving his bowels. When the membranes release during labor, whether spontaneously or artificially, it is a good idea to check the fluid for meconium. Healthy amniotic fluid should be colorless and odorless. If the  water is green or brown and foul-smelling, this is a sign that the baby has passed meconium. This is not always the case, but occasionally babies who pass meconium in utero need to be born quickly, and a medical provider will likely monitor the baby very closely until the birth to determine if action needs to be taken.

If delivering in the hospital, once the baby is born, if meconium was present in the waters, a NICU team will likely be present to suction and evaluate baby immediately after birth. If delayed cord clamping was planned, it may be an option to leave baby on mom’s chest while suctioning and evaluation is done, rather than cutting the cord immediately and moving baby to a cot.

It can always be beneficial to discuss your providers protocol and options with any concerns regarding meconium. Through our childbirth education classes we also discuss meconium, as well as breaking of the waters, what to look for (C.O.A.T.) and much more!