1. Meconium is a fancy name for a newborn infant’s first poo and of course there are many names for poo!
2. It’s greenish black – baby’s first bowel movement is sticky, thick, and dark, greenish black so your newborn’s stool is greenish black tar in other words!
3. It doesn’t last long, generally, infants continue to pass meconium over the first day or so and after that is the greenish brown stool, followed by yellowy stuff that smells more sweet and has the consistency of diluted Dijon mustard. Breastfed babies’ bowel movements may also have small white bits that resemble seeds which is fatty deposits the baby doesn’t require.
4. It’s sterile and believed that the very first stool to leave your newborn is free of bacteria because their teeny intestines have yet to be colonized by microorganisms!
5. It clings to baby’s skin due to meconium’s high viscosity, it can cling to your baby’s bottoms and back and pretty much anything like nobody’s business.
6. There’s no smell – looks gross – but it carries no actual aroma.
7. The very first stool your baby passes doesn’t contain breast milk or formula just yet. Instead, it’s filled with materials your baby ingested in utero like skin cells that have been shed, amniotic fluid, bile, mucus, water and lanugo – which is the fine, soft hair that covers baby’s body.
8. It can be passed in utero – up to 25% of newborns simply can’t wait to have their first stool and do it in the womb or on their way out (my second born did) This pre-birth stool taints the colour of the amniotic fluid – which gives midwives a heads up that meconium has passed. The midwife can then monitor the baby carefully to ensure that he doesn’t develop any complications, such as infection.
9. It could alter water birth plans – while there are no hard and fast rules about labouring in a tub after meconium is present, some midwives may feel it may put you and baby at risk of infection and your birthing team will want immediate access to your baby to be able to clear their airways if needed.
10. There’s an inhalation risk when stool is passed in the womb, there’s always a chance your unborn baby will inhale it. This complication, dubbed Meconium Aspiration Syndrome is rare in babies born before 34 weeks but once your baby is overdue, their risk goes up. It can also happen before, during or after labor and delivery when a newborn inhales a mixture of meconium and amniotic fluid, which can partially or completely block the airways.