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All babies have meconium and will dispense of it through bowel movements at some point, hopefully after they are born. Meconium is the first bowel movements from a newborn that includes cells, mucus, bile, amniotic fluid and lanugo that is stored in the baby’s intestines while in utero. It is dark green, almost black in color.

meconium.jpgMost babies will have their first meconium bowel movement within 24 hours of birth, and may have several before the poop changes to a yellow color. The meconium is sticky and tar like and will generally come out in large amounts, larger than the bowel movements will be after the baby gets rid of the meconium. Unlike later bowel movements, the meconium is normally scentless, making the stickiness be the biggest obstacle for new parents.

Sometimes however a baby will pass his first meconium while still in the womb, before the mother-to-be’s water breaks. If this happens the amniotic fluid will be tinted green. In many cases of hospital births where the baby has passed meconium before birth, a special NICU team will be called when the baby is delivered in case there was ingestion of the meconium into the baby’s lungs.

If a newborn does swallow some meconium it can lead to Meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS). While it is estimated that 5%-20% of newborns pass meconium in utero, only 5%-10% of those cases result in MAS. The newborn passing meconium prior to delivery occurs most often in postdate births. It can also be caused by fetal stress during the pregnancy or during labor and delivery.

If the meconium is ingested into the baby’s lungs, three things can occur to the baby; however it does not always happen. Only a third of infants who ingest meconium need breathing assistance. The things that may occur include:

  • blockage of airways
  • lower gas exchange in lungs
  • inflamed airways leading to pneumonia

While it is almost impossible to prevent your baby from passing meconium in utero, it should be comforting to know that it is a common occurrence that most doctors and midwives know of and can properly react too during your labor and the birth of your baby.

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2 Comments on "Meconium"

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3 years 10 months ago

My son didn’t have the tare poop now he has problems having bowl movement s why.

[…] 40 weeks of pregnancy. The lanugo is then stored in the babies intestines and helps to make up the meconium, or the first bowel movements your newborn will […]

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