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Stools and Breastfeeding

Why are my child's stools green?

Breastfed children usually have yellow stools, and tend to pass stools several times a day. Once you start babies on solids, their stools may thicken slightly and may have a stronger odour than they did. As you shift your baby to solids from a fully breastfed diet, her stool colour is bound to change. At times it just darkens, in which case there is not need to be unduly concerned. At times, the addition of a certain food may cause her stool colour to turn green. Perhaps she is allergic to something? Perhaps she is not yet ready to be fed a particular food? Or perhaps she is just not ready to start solids? Try cutting out any new item from her diet, or wait for two to three more weeks before restarting her on solids. 

My baby is exclusively breastfed, but despite this, her stools are green. Why?

This usually happens when mothers have an abundant breast milk supply, and when there is an imbalance in the amount of foremilk and hindmilk a baby receives. When babies get too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk, tend to suffer from gas, colic and green stools. 

How do you know if your baby is getting too much foremilk?

If your baby is getting too much foremilk and not much hindmilk, she will want to feed frequently. Such babies feed for long periods of time. Foremilk is easily digested, which is why your baby feels hungry more often. This naturally results in excessive milk supply, making matters worse: it's a catch-22 situation. Essentially, foremilk is low caloric food, and high in lactose, which is what causes the gas, loose stools and colic. 

If you are producing too much milk, your breast may leak several times during a feed, causing your baby to gag and choke. If you feel your breast is leaking too rapidly for your baby, simply detach the baby for a few moments and let the milk run down, or catch it in a cup. Lie down in a reclined position and let your baby latch on again.  

How can you avoid overfeeding her?

Let your baby control his own feeds, and come off the breast when he wants to. Feed him from one breast over a three hour period. So if your child wants to nurse several times within three to four hours, offer him the same breast You could offer him the second breast when he has had enough and has been fed for three to four hours, but if he doesn't want to feed any more, leave him. If you feel your unused breast is leaking, you could express the milk from it. Express just enough so you remain comfortable. Essentially, what is important is to avoid going from breast to breast while feeding your baby. If you stick to one breast for a three to four hour period, and then to the other for the same amount of time, your baby's discomfort, gas and green stools will be greatly reduced. All the best! 

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