Meconium Happens…but sometimes it needs some encouragement
Stella latched on soon after birth while we were still in the pool. She wasn’t really interested in nursing but she did make contact. After we got out of the pool, we realized I was bleeding a little too much, Danica the midwife, held Stella and my breast and latched her on and helped her feed while Dr. Chung and Rosa worked on me. The contractions and fundal massage where incredibly painful and my placenta had not passed so i was really not able to hold her and nurse her myself, especially while lying flat on my back. I was glad to have an extra set of arms so that Stella didn’t miss out on that very important after birth skin to skin contact.
Over the next two days, nursing continued to go well. I knew I had colostrum and on day two after birth Stella began peeing in her diaper. She had not, however, passed meconium. Generally newborns pass meconium before they pee but pee is also a sign that baby is getting plenty of colostrum to stay hydrated. I wasn’t worried about her getting enough to eat but I was concerned about the lack of poop. Most healthy newborns will pass meconium by 48 hours. Stella didn’t have any symptoms of an intestinal blockage like a painful or distended belly or spitting up bile or bilirubin but I did worry that if she didn’t pass the mec soon that she would become jaundiced.
I talked to Karen about it and we called the pediatrician who said to insert a q-tip just a bit to see if it would stimulate a poop. We tried it and it didn’t work and really it just seemed mean even though we were really gentle about it. I knew that if we took her in that they would do it again but more aggressively and that they’d poke and prod the rest of her. I figured that a little extra fluid would be enough to push the poop right out but my milk hadn’t come in yet. I didn’t get milk until six days postpartum with Graham so I was a little worried about waiting because I didn’t know how long it would take this time. Karen and I had already discussed her nursing Stella if i had a repeat c/s or surgery for the retained placenta so I knew she was ok nursing Stella if I wanted her to. I really wanted to avoid formula and bottles at all costs and Karen had no hangups about nursing someone elses baby. We decided once we hit the 48 hour mark after birth without a poop that we’d give it a shot.
Karen nursed Stella for about a half hour and the baby was quite content. I didn’t feel the least bit weird about it, I was really grateful to not only have a friend close enough to do this but also to have a much more gentle approach to stimulating a poop. This just seemed like the natural course of action and even Karen’s kids didn’t seem phased by it. Of course, her 16 month old wanted in on the action but that’s to be expected. Once Stella was finished, Karen brought her back to me in a milk coma. She did stir and want to nurse from me some more which was great because she knew she was back to mama. While I was nursing her she began to pass some rather loud and very smelly gas. I pumped her legs, pushing her knees up to her belly and held them with a little pressure, then released and repeated. After a couple of minutes Stella emptied out for a good five minutes. I gave her time to finish before I began to change her but she was still pooping when I opened the diaper so I just swapped it out for a clean one and let her lay on it while she finished. It was thick black tarry meconium and a lot of it. She pretty much cleaned herself out with that one poop. The next one she made, a few hours later, had only a little black mec and the rest was the yellow seedy breast milk fed baby poop. That was the last of the meconium.
I was so excited. It was nice to have an instinct and be right and take care of her in a gentle peaceful way. And what better friend could a new mom ask for than one who will nurse your baby without a moments hesitation or thought about it? The funny thing is that almost immediately after all of this took place, i felt the tingling in my breast that signaled the beginning of engorgement. I knew my milk was on the way. By the next morning, I had a nice big full supply.
Stella was latching well and nursing frequently, but with the exception of the meconium she passed on the inside, she hadn’t had a good meconium poop on the outside by the second day. Since she was peeing and nursing well, the plan was to go see the pediatrician in the morning if she still hadn’t pooped. Amy called the pediatrician who suggested a butt-probe. I put some petroleum jelly on a q-tip and gently twisted it around. There was a bit of mec on it when we took it out, so we knew something was in there, but hours later at the 48 hours mark, it still hadn’t passed.
Since I have full-on milk because I am still nursing, Amy asked me to nurse Stella. We had already planned to have me nurse and pump for Stella if Amy had to have a c-section or surgery for retained placenta. We felt that nursing would be a much more pleasant remedy than a more aggressive butt probe by the pediatrician or messing with finger feeding formula.
Stella is the first baby that I have nursed other than my own children. It was very natural. It seemed just the right thing to do. In fact, after she was born and I held her in the Moby as we were getting ready to go to the hospital, I had an instinct to nurse her. I didn’t do it at that point because she had already been nursing from her mom and I was able to get her to sleep in the Moby.
She latched perfectly and nursed for about 30 minutes. Ian and Eva (my children) were very interested. I was surprised that Ian (who is almost 4) didn’t find it strange at all that I was nursing another baby. Eva (16 months) is fascinated by Stella and just kept saying,”Baby! Baby!” She eventually did get jealous, though. I attempted tandem nursing, but couldn’t get into a good position for both of them. Eva patted Stella as they nursed together.
When Stella finished nursing on one side, she let go, flashed a peace sign and relaxed into the milk-drunk happy state that babies get to when they have full bellies. I offered the second side, but she just played, so I took her back to Amy.
When Amy held her, she recognized mom and wanted to nurse again. Shortly after that she had a MASSIVE butt-plosion. Amy waited through several blasts before attempting to change her and even then, more was coming out. I felt strangely proud of myself for being able to clear her out like that. In fact, it worked so well that her next poop had only a little meconium and actual poop!