Is My Newborn Constipated?

Newborn constipation, doctor, pediatricians

Is My Newborn Constipated?

As a new mother, the slightest change in your baby’s behavior can alarm you.

Has your baby been grunting and squirming while trying to poop? Or maybe they’re crying too? There’s no need to panic. Your baby isn’t alone.

Many babies, especially during the first three months of life, suffer from a condition called Infant Dychezia.

Read on to find out how infantile dyschezia differs from constipation and why your baby cries despite regular bowel movements:

What is Infantile Dyschezia?

Infant dyschezia is a functional condition in which babies under six months strain and cry for up to 10 minutes before successfully or unsuccessfully passing soft stools.

These squirming and grunting episodes are exhausting for infants and anxiety-provoking for parents. They may prompt you to visit your child’s pediatrician with concerns that the child is constipated.

Often, parents describe the child turns red, squirming, and screaming, multiple times a day while trying to pass stools. 

Why Does This Happen?

Here’s the thing: passing stools requires excessive coordination between our brain, muscles, and pelvic floor.

We adults sit (or squat) on the toilet seat, thus increasing the intra-abdominal pressure. We can also relax our pelvic floor, encouraging stool to come out without strain.

In contrast, babies have an uncontrolled stooling reflex and cannot relax their muscles at the proper time. So, babies must push hard with the diaphragm and tummy muscles while laying down and having no help from gravity.

To relax their muscles, infants cry for ten to fifteen minutes. It’s not because your baby is in pain, but because it’s the easiest way to relax and create pressure in the tummy. Eventually, your baby’s muscles relax, and poop comes out.

How is Infantile Dyschezia Different from Constipation?

While infants with infantile dyschezia cry, squirm, and scream, they pass soft, normal consistency poop.

On the contrary, babies with constipation have harder, pebble-like poop. Sometimes, they may even have blood in their stools.

Knowing When to See a Pediatrician

While infantile dyschezia is entirely normal, rare, more severe conditions look similar. To ensure your baby is healthy, look out for the following symptoms:

  • Straining and crying while trying to pass stool
  • Turning red or purple on the face
  • Discolored or green-tinged vomit
  • Blood in stools

If your baby exhibits these symptoms, we recommend talking to your pediatrician. Your doctor may want to examine your infants’ anorectal area to ensure they’re healthy and have no red flags.

Ways to Help Your Baby

Many parents use windi or rectal stimulation to help their infants pass stool without strain.

While these can be useful, they don’t give your baby the chance to practice coordinating the muscles to learn how to poop.

Most babies outgrow infantile dyschezia within the first 2-3 months of life. So, remember that your baby isn’t crying because of pain instead of trying to change your diet, use medications, and switch formulas. 

The Bottom Line: Giving Love to Your Baby

Hopefully, we’ve reassured you that infant dyschezia isn’t something to worry about. It’s something that will resolve in time.

But if you’re concerned and feeling overwhelmed, follow your gut instinct and call Continuum Pediatrics at 817-617-8600.