Why is my breastfed baby constipated?

Carol - posted on 12/21/2011 ( 32 moms have responded )

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My breastfed baby just turned 3 months old. She is exclusively breastfed except for one bottle of formula before she goes to bed at night. She was getting into the habit of having a very large BM every morning. However, this past week she has only gone once on her own. She has been to the doctors twice since and he has given her a suppository and she was able to go a lot within minutes. The doctor suggested that she might need to eat more and to give her an extra feeding of formula a day. I am very torn on what to do. I have been working so hard breastfeeding and I am not ready to give her another bottle of formula but of course I want to do what is best for her.

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Celeste - posted on 01/23/2012

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Devenchka, it *IS* normal for breastfed babies not to go for a few days but this is AFTER the first 6 weeks.



Per LLL

http://www.llli.org/faq/bm.html

It is normal for the bowel movements of a breastfed to decrease in frequency when the colostrum, which has laxative properties, is completely gone from the mother's milk after about six weeks of age. A baby this age may continue to have bowel movements as frequently as five times a day, sometimes even after every nursing. It is also normal for a breastfed baby older than six weeks to have only one bowel movement every few days. Some healthy babies will have only one bowel movement a week. When bowel movements are less frequent, they should be more profuse in volume. As long as the baby is gaining well, wetting sufficiently, and is happy and content there is no cause to be alarmed by infrequent bowel movements, and it is not necessary to give the baby a laxative, fruit juice, or any other "helpers." In fact, attempting to force bowel movements can have harmful consequences to your baby



From Dr. Jay Gordon, who is not only an MD but also an IBCLC

http://drjaygordon.com/pediatricks/gener...

There is something important to point out regarding frequency of stooling in an exclusively breastfed baby. Many parents are concerned when after the early weeks where they may have been seeing a little bowel movement in almost every diaper, they suddenly begin to see days go by without any. This is perfectly normal. There is a great range of frequency of bowel movements with exclusively breastfed infants, ranging from a couple of times a day to several days. There are completely healthy nursing babies that have a bowel movement once a week, once every ten days, or even a few that go a bit longer. If your baby is healthy, developing well, nursing well and the consistency of the bowel movement when it does make its appearance is soft or loose, then do not be concerned. It is not constipation if it arrives in soft form. Constipation would arrive in pellets and hard formed pieces..

Mimi - posted on 01/02/2012

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If you are breast feeding, eat pears! It's not the baby, but what you are eating. What has changed in your diet.

Celeste - posted on 12/21/2011

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A couple of things. How are you defining constipation? Constipation isn't the lack of going, but the consistency. If she is pooping hard pellets, then yes, that would be constipation.



If yes, then formula can be the culprit and I'd cut out the formula bottles and nurse more. Breastmilk is a natural laxative.

Elizabeth - posted on 07/27/2013

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That's the most ludicrous thing I've ever heard. You need a new pediatrician

Michelle - posted on 01/25/2012

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Devchenka - if you're eating the perfect food, which contains so little fibre, why would there be much waste to eliminate? Especially if you're metabolizing it well and you are getting all possible use out of it? I realize there are other things than waste food to get out, but it's not the bulk of it. Why would it be better to do a tiny tiny poo each day than every few days?

My 5month old goes about once a week, often a few times in a couple of days, and in-between just pees a good amount. And I am certain she isn't constipated. She is healthy, content, smiley, and getting healthily chubby

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Jodi - posted on 01/26/2012

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Devchenka- It is not normal for a healthy adult to sleep 12, 14 or 16+ plus hours in a 24 hour period, but totally normal for a baby, even toddlers. But I trust we're not going to start restricting our babies to 8 hours a night of sleep. It would not be normal for an adult to be drooling profusely for weeks on end, yet teething infants do it and we all know it's normal. It would not be normal for a grown adult to drink from breast or bottle, but that's how babies eat.



My point is, just because it's not normal for adults, doesn't mean it's not perfectly normal for babies. There is more than sufficient research to prove that exclusively breastfed babies can indeed go a few days to a week without a BM...and they are still healthy and happy and perfectly normal babies.

Valerie - posted on 01/25/2012

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Wow' what a heated conversation. I BF however there was a time where I supplemented one bottle a day also. My little one was always constipate and did not/does not have frequent BM's. Please forgive me for not knowing the name but there is formula which helps with constipation. I think it was made by Similac. The one bottle seemed to help. I think it was "Gentle Ease" Similac. Other than that, my aunt which worked in the NICU, told me to give my baby warm tea. I do not know why but 1-2 tea spoons in a bottle would do it. And before anyone comments, I always used caffeine free tea. Good luck! It's. Hard to see your own little struggle.

Spike - posted on 01/23/2012

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when my baby got constipated she purely breastfed. her pedia asked about the foods that i usually eat. before i dont eat prok and beef that much but her pedia told me that, that is the reason why my baby is constipated. maybe you should eat pork and beef more.

Devchenka - posted on 01/21/2012

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I don't know why some of you say that not going for a day even a week for baby is normal. For adult its not normal, imagine how baby can not go.

Yes formula can constipate, but i believe breastfed babies should go every day and more than once.

The only reason babies can't go because they might having digestion problems and its up to you to figure out which foods case the problem and illuminate them. Undigested foods are poison to your body. They take longer to eliminate and usually cause sleepiness and fatigue.

I believe dairy and grain based carbohydrates are the cause of it. One of the things i tried is COLIEF enzymes that help digestion for babies who are sensitive to certain food, and its not a miracle but it helps.

Other than that i stay away from diary and coffee. I try to eat whole grain only in small quantities.

I am not perfection by any means, but i believe what ever goes in needs to come out and not stay in your body for long period of time.

Claire - posted on 01/04/2012

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it's totally normal for breast fed babys to go just once or twice a week. if her poo looks normal and she's not getting pain (drawing her knees up, high pitch cry) then i would continue as you are. if you need advice about this i would speak to a lactation nurse/breastfeeding advisor rather than gp as they get about 2hours training on breastfeeding and its issues during their several years of training and mostly don't have a clue x

Carrie - posted on 01/03/2012

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We went to the doctor over this twice the they told us we could use suppository's but never suggested formula. They also said that sometimes this is just normal

Kelly - posted on 01/03/2012

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My breastfed baby turns 3 months this week and he is only having a poop every couple days. I pulled my muscles in my back and stomach recently and had to take some ibuprofen for the pain. I also restarted taking my prenatal vitamins w/iron too. I wonder if those have an affect on how often he poops? As soon as I get a chance to go to the grocery store I think I might try Activia for me to help the good bacteria in my stomach. Maybe that will help too.

Erika - posted on 01/02/2012

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This sounds like a food sensitivity. She could be reacting to a sensitivity to the formula you've introduced, or it could be something in your diet, since you are still breastfeeding. Try eliminating the formula first - back to exclusively breastfeeding. If it doesn't improve, then you can try eliminating things from your diet to try to find the culprit. Both of my older boys were food sensitive - my middle boy VERY allergic to many foods. I found it was necessary to strip my diet down to JUST grilled chicken with rice for two weeks. The symptoms subsided after two weeks, then I was able to add in one food at a time, starting with some veggies. I would add one food per week. If there was a reaction, I'd remove that food and wait a couple of weeks before introducing something else.

Good luck to you!

[deleted account]

Are you sure she's constipated -- hard, pebbly stools that are causing her discomfort?



It's common for breastfed babies to go a week or more without going. I'm not sure why the doctor gave her a suppository twice in one week?



At that age my son sometimes went 4-5 days without going. He wasn't constipated.



I also don't understand why your doctor wants her to "eat more" by having another bottle of formula. How does eating more solve constipation?

Caroline - posted on 01/02/2012

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Try giving more frequent breast feeds. Breast milk is a drink for baby as well as food. Doctors don't know anything about breast milk. If still in doubt phone the bfn helpline.

Karen - posted on 01/01/2012

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Is the formula you are feeding her at night made from milk? If so, it is probably the milk solids in the formula that is making your child constipated. Or, if there is iron in the formula, the iron can cause constipation as well. So adding another bottle will most likely add to the problem, not reduce it. If you can, I would try just breastfeeding at night instead of giving the bottle. Or, if you have to give the bottle, why not try a soy formula? At least you will not have the milk solids to contend with.

Rebekah - posted on 01/01/2012

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I'm not really sure anyone was judging your decision to give your child formula. From what I understand, it's very rare for a breastfed baby to be constipated, but very common for a formula fed baby to be constipated. So based on that information alone, I would conclude that the formula is likely the cause of his constipation. That would still give you a few options though… Give him more time on the current formula to get his system adjusted (if this formula is new), switch formulas, or quit all formula and just breastfeed.

Celeste - posted on 01/01/2012

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I'm sorry you're feeling that way Kell!

The reason why it generally isn't a good idea is that it can interfere with supply and cause other issues (like constipation). Supplementing can be a slippery slope. Some moms, it works fine, others it can cause problems. You just have to do what works for you but at the same time, be fully informed..

Carol - posted on 01/01/2012

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wow I came on this site to ask a question and I feel like I am judged because I give my daughter one bottle of formula. Give me a break!

Heather - posted on 01/01/2012

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Stop giving her formula, there is no reason that she needs to have it before she goes to bed. She should be nursing and bonding with you. The formula is probably causing her constipation. BF babies don't need formula at all!

Heather - posted on 01/01/2012

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Honestly, it's probably something that you are eating that is making her constipated. More dairy, milk, ice cream, etc. She doesn't need formula if you are nursing her. Ped.s don't know what they are talking about when it comes to babies who nurse. Think back on what you have been eating that is different this past week or two, and stop eating it. Also, eat and drink foods that will help her, and you, to poop! Fiber also helps!

Tine - posted on 12/28/2011

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Oh, doctors have a lot to answer for!!!
No, don't give formula, it will definitely make any problem worse, as formula harms the gut flora that are vital to good digestive and immune health.
My guess is food allergies, or just a natural developmental process. My daughter had phases like that, where suddenly she wouldn't poo for a while. She was breastfed until age 3 (with solids from 9 months).
My son (7 weeks) gets terrible colic with constipation if I eat gluten or dairy, he's totally fine if I avoid those things! I'd suggest eliminating both for a few days and see what happens. But time may also fix it. Formula sure won't!
I really would avoid suppositories or laxatives at this tender age... Drs have very limited knowledge of breastfeeding and of positive health...

Rebekah - posted on 12/26/2011

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Yeah, the only time my kids were constipated (true hard pellets of poop) as infants were shortly after introducing formula or solids. Did you just introduce the formula? Maybe that's the issue and she just needs a little time to get her system regulated. I would certainly NOT increase the formula at this point. In fact, I'd probably decrease it and increase the breastfeeding.

Sally - posted on 12/26/2011

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Simone--your smoking will affect your baby as long as he lives with you. What you feed him has nothing to do with it.
Back to the actual topic. Fomula is more likely to constipate a child than breatmilk is because breastmilk has mild natural laxatives in it. Also, because breatmilk is so much more digestible than formula some breastfed babies use enough of it that they only need to poop once every week or two. As long as your babies poops are soft and it's not hurting her to pass them, don't worry about how often they come.

Celeste - posted on 12/25/2011

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Simone, that's not exactly correct. You can eat pretty much what you want without it affecting your baby. SOMETIMES, what you eat can affect your baby, like dairy. In which case, mom can cut out dairy.



And please, let's not turn this into a "what's better" debate. The OP asked a question and we answered.

Simone - posted on 12/25/2011

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and also he drunk formula from 8 days old and is more healthier and smarter then other kids i know that were breast fed.......breast feeding isnt the better opion...its the cheaper option...and my son was never constipated on formula

Simone - posted on 12/25/2011

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please just remember that what u eat your baby eats!!! wat u do ur baby does!!! i stopped breast feeding because i smoke and my son always had stomach aches!!

Michelle - posted on 12/22/2011

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My 4mo has just changed from every day to less than once a week. Totally normal and she does seem a bit grumpier the day or 2 before she goes. But it's soft and certainly not as if she's constipated.

Heather - posted on 12/22/2011

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I agre with the others. My BF daughter only went once a week until she started eating babyfood. I would strongly consider changing pediatricians to one who is more knowledgable with breast fed babies!

Jodi - posted on 12/22/2011

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Ditto the others. Constipation is based, not on the frequency of BM's, but on whether or not the BM is hard or soft. My first born was exclusively breastfed, she would only poop about once a week, sometimes less! I had her to the doctor SO many times the first few months thinking she was backed up, constipiated, an intestine was twisted...SOMETHING! Nope, just like it's normal for a breastfed baby to have a BM after every feed, it's normal for them to have infrequent BMs!

I would DEFINATELY stop with the suppositories, I know I wouldn't want one! lol I would just give it time and see hwo it goes. If after a week or so of no poop, maybe try half a teaspoon of Karo syrup. Good luck!

Mia - posted on 12/22/2011

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totally agree with Celeste, formula can constipate & it is normal for a baby not to poo for up to a week or two anyway!

Amy - posted on 12/21/2011

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Ditto what Celeste said! I'm not sure why the doctor would tell you to do another bottle of formula. Breastmilk is easily digested and it's not uncommon for some breastfed babies to go as long as 7-10 days in-between a bowel movement. When they do usually go it's a big mess but just because your lo isn't pooping everyday doesn't mean she's constipated.

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