Thursday, January 26, 2012

Diaper fright! (blood and mucus in stool)

Two weeks ago, when Weston turned 6 weeks old, I was greeted with an unpleasant surprise when I went to change his first diaper of the day. There was mucus in his stool and several spots of bright red blood. This continued throughout the day and got us more and more worried. The on-call pediatrician was absolutely no help (she said I could have blood in my breastmilk that was showing up in his stool--it is beyond me how that even makes any sort of logical digestive sense, assuming I DID have blood in my milk somehow from some painless internal cut inside my breast?!), and since the office was closed she wanted us to just bring him in for a visit the next day.

Hugo and I scoured the Internet for clues from other parents, discovering in the meantime that there is a plethora of frightening information available for susceptible parents! No surprise there. Fortunately Hugo came across a post from a mother who said that her lactation consultant told her the blood and mucus were caused by an excess of lactose in the milk, due to the baby getting mostly foremilk and missing out on the hindmilk. (Foremilk is sweeter --thus more lactose which is milk sugar --- and more watery to satisfy thirst, and hindmilk, which comes after, is creamier and richer to satisfy hunger.)

The solution to this problem is to lie on your back while nursing so that the milk has a better chance of mixing in the breast. I switched immediately to lying-down nursing (not the most convenient thing to do though I must say it is relaxing) and by the next morning Weston's poop was completely normal again. About a week later I also realized that he had stopped grunting or groaning when he had to poop!

At this point I am doing a mix of back-lying, side-lying, and sitting-up feeding, but I have noticed that he is happiest, most relaxed, and most satisfied when I nurse him while lying on my back. He loves being able to fall asleep on me like this.

Of course Oliver wants to join in the cuddling (not the nursing) on occasion which leads to situations like this:


  1. Hi Hannah, I had a similar situation with Peter at one time. Another option is "block nursing." From what I understand (and this is totally my layman term explanation), there isn't a sudden switch between fore/hind milk like we imagine. The watery milk collects in the ducts between feedings since it comes down with gravity. As the baby nurses, there are many let-downs (though we only feel the first a lot of times) and with each let-down there is more fat pushed out. So, if you pick a time block and only nurse the baby on one side during that block, there should be less of the watery milk collected between feedings. Maybe it would be helpful for when you can't lay on your back!

    1. Thanks, Sarah! I was actually doing block feeding from the beginning...but that didn't seem to prevent this from happening unfortunately. It seems to be working okay to mix the different positions.