What is Meconium: The Scoop on Poop

What is Meconium: The Scoop on Poop

Mar 5, 2018

So, what’s the scoop on your newborn’s poop? Aside from being gooey and gross, your baby’s first bowel movements consist of a sticky, greenish brown, tar-like substance called meconium. Sometimes a baby passes meconium during birth and fouls the amniotic fluid, either because your baby was experiencing some form of fetal distress during labour, your baby was overdue, or sometimes your baby just decides its too cool for stool! If your baby has passed meconium, your labour will be closely monitored and a team of specialists are usually available for your infant during it’s first few moments after delivery to ensure that all the gunk is cleared from their airway. Your baby may look a little green depending on how much meconium was present at delivery, but don’t worry, your doctor or midwife will wipe your baby down!

Meconium, otherwise, is a combination of amniotic fluid, cells, water, lanugo, and mucus. Meconium begins to form around the 16th week of pregnancy and by birth, your baby’s intestinal tract is packed full of it. A fun fact—its sterile and there’s no smell! Just don’t get used to scentless diapers.

Your baby should have it’s first bowel movement within the first 24-48 hours of life and after that it should change into a more greenish looking stool as colostrum is processed in the baby’s digestive tract. If meconium hasn’t passed in this time frame, your baby may experience jaundice, or have some other complications, so it’s imperative your baby poops! You may need to chart your baby’s diaper activity for the time you’re in hospital, just so your health care providers know that everything is progressing normally.

Because meconium is like molasses make sure to coat your baby’s bottom generously with petroleum jelly or with an old midwifery trick, olive oil. It sticks to everything otherwise! If you’re planning on cloth diapering, you may want to use disposables until meconium has passed. But there is no hard and fast rule to that.

Just think of meconium as your introduction to the weird and wacky world of parenthood!

We encourage you to learn more about our "What in the World" series. Please see our A to Z index for a whole host of pregnancy, postpartum, and parenting information and terminology.

Loree Siermachesky works as a multi-certified labour and postpartum doula, certified Lamaze childbirth educator, certified breastfeeding counselor, certified placenta encapsulation specialist and a certified car seat technician in Medicine Hat and Lethbridge. She has had the honour of attending over 1400 births in the last 20 years. She is well-known and greatly respected by the medical providers in Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Brooks, Taber, and Calgary. She cares deeply for this profession and even more for her clientele, honoring them in whatever method of birth they choose, or helping them transition to new parenthood as they wish.