Meconium And Why It Is So Important
Meconium stool is the very first stool that is passed by a newborn baby. Although it is just stool, the time of passage of meconium is an important parameter to ensure that the baby is healthy as any deviation from normal suggests disease or fetal distress.
What is meconium stool?
Meconium is the first stool of your newborn baby. Newborn meconium is usually viscous, sticky and tar-like. Blackish or olive green in color, it does not have any smell. It is formed by materials taken in or ingested by the baby, during the time it is in the mother’s womb. These materials include intestinal epithelial cells, mucus, lanugo, bile, amniotic fluid and water.
The meconium is retained by the baby till the time of birth. After birth, it is normally passed within 24 hours. Thereafter, a relatively normal-looking stool of yellow or brownish color is passed.
What is the importance of meconium?
Since meconium is first bowel movement of the baby, it gives us an idea about the functioning of the newborn’s digestive tract. Normally, meconium is passed immediately after birth or within 24 hours. If there is any delay, it indicates some underlying health concern. Similarly, if it is passed inside mother’s womb, it can again indicate some pathology. Thus, this first baby stool holds much importance.
What if my baby passes meconium in the womb?
Normally, a newborn baby passes meconium immediately after delivery or within 24 hours of birth. Sometimes, it may pass meconium just before labor or during labor. This results in mixing of meconium with amniotic fluid and staining of the amniotic fluid, which is called as meconium-stained fluid or meconium staining.
Meconium-stained amniotic fluid may indicate fetal distress and it can result in a more serious condition, known as the meconium aspiration syndrome.
Meconium aspiration syndrome: This occurs when the baby passes stools inside the mother’s womb, which is then accidentally inhaled by the baby. This meconium inhalation damages the lungs of the newborn and it results in severe difficulty in breathing. The baby may even turn blue (cyanotic), because of lack of oxygen supply and this is a life-threatening scenario that needs medical intervention immediately.
Meconium aspiration syndrome treatment includes sucking out the meconium from the lungs of the baby and supplying high concentration oxygen to the baby to avoid meconium aspiration syndrome brain damage. Further special treatment might be needed.
What if my baby has not passed meconium?
If your baby has not passed meconium within 24 hours, it is an indicator of some serious underlying health concern and needs to be reported to the doctor. Common causes of delay or failure to pass meconium include blockage of intestines (meconium ileus), Hirschprung’s disease, cystic fibrosis or hypothyroidism.
Meconium ileus is the commonest reason that a baby doesn’t pass meconium within the first day. The meconium hardens up and acts like a plug, blocking the intestinal opening. This results in no passage of stools. Other signs include bloating of abdomen and vomiting. This condition requires immediate medical attention. If not treated in time, it may result in complications such as intestinal perforation, peritonitis etc.
Your obstetrician will be able to identify and take necessary action in case any such issues arise during or after delivery.
Disclaimer: The information in the article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor.
Also read - Black, Green, Yellow - Your Baby’s Poop Story
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