Is it common that pooping is difficult for preemies? I have a 3-month-old baby premature at 28 weeks. Technically 2 weeks, she is having problems pushing her poop out, she is not constipated because her stool is very loose.I’ve been helping her with a Q-tip and it seems to help. When she pushes she gets very tense.
What else can I do so she can start going on her own again? She is on formula lactose intolerance.
Thanks in advance,
Pooping Issues When Preemie and Newborn
When Pooping is Difficult for Preemies – Normal or Not?
I’m actually wondering if your baby is having problems pushing out her poop at all – or if what you’re seeing is just normal infant behavior.
Newborn babies (preemie or not) tend to strong>make a lot of noise when they poop, with all sorts of grunts and straining sounds. They may even go quite red in the face. This is quite normal – and the fact that your baby’s stools are loose when she passes them really makes me think she’s not experiencing any real ‘problem’.
That said, it is true that preemies are more prone to constipation than full-term babies. There are a few reasons for this, such as getting special high-calorie formula with iron, reduced muscle tone, and infections. The formula is not relevant in your case, I guess, but somewhat reduced muscle tone could be the case, resulting in that she needs to work harder to push the poop out.
Some signs of constipation are hard pebble-like stools and blood on the outside of the poop. You can find more signs of constipation in babies in this post. Since your daughter’s poop is loose, she in definitely not constipated!
In addition to actual constipation, babies can have medical reasons for pooping difficulties, such as anal stenosis and Hirschsprung’s disease. Anal stenosis is a too narrow anal opening and Hirschsprung’s is a case of missing nerve cells in the muscles of the baby’s colon. Both these conditions make it more difficult for the baby to poop. Depending on severity, there are different treatments, including surgery.
What happens if you DON’T use a Q-tip? Does it seem to you that she can’t poop at all unless you help her? If your baby really can’t poop on her own, and especially if this is the case despite the stools being soft, have her examined by a doctor and mention these conditions. Hirschsprung’s disease is in most cases discovered already within 48 hours of birth because these babies do not even pass meconium.
What to do When Preemie Has Difficulties Pooping
If your preemie can poop, but strains and have difficulties, I would personally not intervene with a Q-tip at least not on a regular basis. If she cries or seems overly distressed, then, of course, you can help her once in a while.
It takes a while for babies’ intestines to mature and for their bodies to figure out how to poop; for some babies, it takes longer than for others. A preemie obviously may take longer than a full-term baby. “Helping them”, which is very natural to do as a parent, may very well delay the learning process. Instead of intervening, you can try clockwise tummy massage and a warm bath.
An efficient “exercise” for your baby to help her poop is to lay her down on her back, lift her legs up and shake then a little bit. After that, bend her knees and push her knees towards her tummy. This really helps for releasing gas and also poop. Take the opportunity to make eye contact, and talk or sing to your daughter!
Being carried either belly down on your arm or in an upright position in a baby carrier or baby sling can also help.
There are not exactly a whole lot of best-selling (or any) books on baby poop to recommend. I have added a few to check out here below.
I hope this helps,
Helpful Resources on Baby Poop
If you want more in-depth information and tips on baby poop issues, here are a few books to check out. (Links to Amazon)
- Baby Poop: What Your Pediatrician May Not Tell You … about Colic, Reflux, Constipation, Green Stools, Food Allergies, and Your Child’s Immune Health.
- Eat, Sleep, Poop: A Common Sense Guide to Your Baby’s First Year.
- The Ins and Outs of Poop: A Guide to Treating Childhood Constipation.
- It’s No Accident: Breakthrough Solutions To Your Child’s Wetting, Constipation, Utis, And Other Potty Problems.
More Babies With Pooping Difficulties
Image by: Seth
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