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Really need advice - breastfed baby seems constipated - can this be right?

(32 Posts)
ragtaggle Tue 25-Nov-03 07:56:20

Would really like some help with this. My breastfed baby has started having real trouble digesting my milk. She spends ages straining and looks in real distress. It's got to the stage where me or my dh have to spend hours with her on her changing mat cycling her legs and rubbing her tummy to help her pooh. She always does manage eventually but this is starting to become a particular problem at night.

Until recently she'd have one small night feed (We were delighted!) and then go straight back to sleep. But for the last few nights me or dh have spent several hours up with her in the night helping her to release her pooh. Last night dh did from 12 -3 until she finally managed it . But then she cried for feeding again at 4 and afterwards the whole thing happened again. I spent from 4-7 trying to relieve her distress.. She has only managed a small pooh this morning and still looks agitated.

Could it be something I'm eating/drinking? I thought breastfed babies were meant to digest easily and not get constipated. I could really do with help on this because I can't work out what's wrong and I hate seeing her so uncomfortable

FairyMum Tue 25-Nov-03 08:07:26

It's rare for bf babies to get constipated, but it does happen. How old is your baby ? You could try giving her a a teaspoon of prune juice.

Forestfly Tue 25-Nov-03 08:12:40

This sounds to me like a bad case of colic, buy some gripe water and see what happens then

codswallop Tue 25-Nov-03 08:27:32

make sure she is crying for feeding an not just crying - I am sure I always overfed mine

Its grim isnt it? It does pass

tiktok Tue 25-Nov-03 09:00:46

Ragtaggle, bf babies don't get constipated unless there is some underlying condition (rare - eg hirschprungs disease - but definitely worth checking out).

It's far more likely she just wants cuddling and/or feeding, or else has colic. What happens if you just offer her the breast again when she starts to cry at night?

Call one of the bf helplines if you need to talk to someone about this, and I think it would be worth speaking to your HV as well.

Let us know what happens.

pupuce Tue 25-Nov-03 09:05:17

It does happen for BF to be constipated. Maybe a cranial osteopath might be a good idea if you are concerned?
Your diet *shouldn't* be an issue BUT do you eat lots of dairy or drink a *high* amount of caffeine (tea, coffee, coke, chocolate)?
One of my mums did cut down her dairy (she ate lots of cheese) and saw a difference.

This is what Dr Newman (a sepcialist in BF) says about bowel movements:
" Some breastfed babies, after the first 3-4 weeks of life, may suddenly change their stool pattern from many each day, to one every 3 days or even less. Some babies have gone as long as 15 days or more without a bowel movement. As long as the baby is otherwise well, and the stool is the usual pasty or soft, yellow movement, this is not constipation and is of no concern. No treatment is necessary or desirable, because no treatment is necessary or desirable for something that is normal."

Does that resembles what you are experiencing?

Bron Tue 25-Nov-03 09:17:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

aloha Tue 25-Nov-03 09:22:55

Are you sure she's constipated? When she poos what's the poo like? If it's soft and yellow then she's not constipated and it's probably just a bit of wind.

EvanMom Tue 25-Nov-03 09:34:19

Just thoughtI'd add my twopenny to this. ds2 is exclusively breastfed and 3 months old. He used to do 4-8 poos a day. He now does one poo every 8 days or so! When he goes the stools are soft and yellow. I have checked with health visitor and this is normal. He is not constipated, just not very regular!

tiktok Tue 25-Nov-03 11:01:51

Pupuce, how would a diet high in these constituents make a baby constipated? How would cranial osteopathy work on the gut? Bron, how would the fibre and fluid of the oranges (which is what makes OJ good for adult constipation) get into the milk?

Just curious

I heard from a mother whose bf baby had been diagnosed with constipation because there was poo showing up in the lower bowel on x-ray...but isn't this where the baby stores it?! It's like diagnosing wind because you can hear gurgles and other noises in the tummy. Everyone's tummy makes those noises if you care to put your ear to them!

If the poo is soft, if the baby has no underlying condition that affects bowel functioning, then I don't think it's constipation.

pupuce Tue 25-Nov-03 11:11:10

Diet - to be honest I am not a personal believer in diet (seriously) influencing breastmilk and poos.... but there is such a thing as too much of something (caffeine in particular) and sometimes dairy.... Not for consitipation necessarily BTW.

CO - well... "they" claim to be able to work on the whole body and "doing things" (sorry do not know their terminology) to the bowel.
The last lady I was a postnatal doula too had a very windy (burp) baby,..... very unsettled. She was seriously considering formula as she was distressed by the situation. We had tears, we bought formnula,.... She went to see a friend CO and that lady said that her baby had clearly x,y and z.... and mum and babe felt better! It was a clear reassurance to her and I perosnnally found the baby better a few days later (not saying it worked or didn't) -

tiktok Tue 25-Nov-03 12:12:39

Hmmmm....pupude yu sound even less convincd than I am

tiktok Tue 25-Nov-03 12:12:57


pupuce Tue 25-Nov-03 12:23:30

No I am not that convinced.... but I am convinced that a woman's state of mind plays a great deal in her breastfeeding experience so if you "do" something to fix a problem it may help it! Becasue you feel you are being proactive at resolving it.

ragtaggle Tue 25-Nov-03 12:45:31

Thanks for all your help everybody. I do have a cheese sandwich for lunch most days and a kit kat afterwards so I will try to cut them out (I am getting used to not being able to eat or drink anything I like after nine months of pregnancy and six weeks of motherhood! But even so..where does the constant abstinence end?)

I think constipated may not the be the right way to describe this as my dd still does 6-8 poos a day. It's just that she looks uncomfortable after some feeds but by no means all. (Unfortunately they have recently been the night ones) She's not a big crier - she just looks increasingly pained and makes pained noises.. and only looks relieved when she finally poos. I have just given her some gripe water and will await to see what happens after this feed. So far she looks quite calm.

Which leads me to anoter question - If it is 'trapped wind' does it follow that she'll only look relieved when she poos? I always burp her after feeding and usually manage to get one out. Although, come to think of it at night I am sometimes too tired to try too hard after a minute of back patting. Maybe that's it - should you always get a burp out of the baby even when they look tantalisingly asleep? I'm boring myself now so I'll understand if no-one else made it this far

tiktok Tue 25-Nov-03 13:52:34

Ragtaggle, your baby is definitely not constipated!

Mothers are often right about what is distressing their babies, though, and maybe she does get tummy ache when a poo is on the way....she may have a sensitive tum and feel it more than other babies, esp in the night.

What happens if you just put her to the breast when she is distressed like this?

Burping is optional with most babies (IMHO) - there is no way of measuring a burp and no way of knowing how much air is left in there. I only ever burped my babies as a way of enjoying a sort of postfeed cuddle and pat - was never bothered if they peformed or not, and if they were zonked I didn't even bother trying. Some babies do seem to be better off with a chance to burp though, so I wouldn't generalise too much.

Eat your cheese sandwich and kitkat, please....honestly, there is really no evidence at all (is there pupuce?!) that this will make any difference with her ease of pooing.

Bron Tue 25-Nov-03 14:06:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Jimjams Tue 25-Nov-03 14:13:56

cranial osteopaths work on anything.

I took ds2 when he was about 5 months as he was sleeping really lightly. She fiddled with his chest for a bit and said "gosh he's really bunged up-is he always chesty".

i said "no never, never had a cough in his life, not at all blah blah blah".

She did a bit more and said she has loosened it- I looked on sceptically.

Went home. The middle of that night he sat up and starting coughing up thick green mucus. He carried on bringing it up for about 24 hours, then was fine.

I don't know *how* they do it but they seem to be able to do something.

Sounds like wind to me ragtaggle. Could be worth trying a CO. Or try some gripe water- or feeding in a different position maybe.

Both of mine used to want to feed when they had wind, which just made them worse.

Jimjams Tue 25-Nov-03 14:14:24

oh I meant they work on any part of the body- not that they can cure anything!

aloha Tue 25-Nov-03 14:41:49

6-8 poos? Definitely not constipated. Perhaps the noises and the wriggling are just things she does and she's not distressed at all. IMO tiny babies ALWAYS cry if they are distressed or uncomfy. What would happen if you just left her, instead of cycling her legs etc? You might just be keeping her awake half the night when she might otherwise go to sleep! You never know.... anyway, it sounds an awful lot of work for the middle of the night.

aloha Tue 25-Nov-03 14:43:51

Also some babies look like this (I mean, I'm only going by my interpretation of your description of course) when they are just having a wriggle about and the noises are 'effort' noises, like little grunts.
Certainly don't change what you are eating. I think most of that sort of advice isn't very accurate.

EvanMom Tue 25-Nov-03 14:56:27

Aloha reminded me - both my sons groaned, grunted and writhed their way through the first three months of their lives, especially at night. ds2 has only just grown out of it and so I get a better night sleep.

I was very worried about it with ds1 but my doctor reassured me it was perfectly normal and a friend's baby did exactly the same. Every time I would hand my bundle of joy to someone they would say that they thought he was trying to fill his nappy. He never was. He never seemed distressed, but was just busy grunting and writhing. Maybe that is what ragtaggle's dd is doing? Just a thought.

pupuce Tue 25-Nov-03 18:07:26

Yes Tiktok

Clarinet60 Tue 25-Nov-03 23:03:17

My breastfed baby was constipated quite a lot during the first few months. And yes, it was really constipation because the poos were hard. I thought it was odd at the time because he was exclusively breastfed, but there you are.

tiktok Tue 25-Nov-03 23:56:22

Droile - were you taking iron tablets? This is the only reason I have heard or read about where a fully bf baby with no health problems had genuinely hard poo.

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