Have you noticed blood or mucus in your baby’s stool when you change their diaper? Are you worried there could be something seriously wrong with your baby?
Many parents instantly go on high-alert at the sight of any abnormality with their baby. Why wouldn’t you? It took a lot of hard work to get your baby safely into this world and you love them more than you ever thought possible.
If you ever have any health concerns regarding your baby, it is always reassuring to find a cause and a solution.
Often your worries will be just that — worries. There may be times, however, where you notice something and can catch it before it becomes a real issue.
If you notice blood or mucus in your baby’s stool, it is safe to say you are going to want to get to the bottom of it.
Stools With Mucus
If your baby’s diaper looks like it has been covered in slime, that is probably mucus. Greenish stool with shiny strings means that mucus is present.
There can be a very simple explanation for this, or there can be other underlying issues.
If your baby is exceptionally drooly, the mucus in the stool could have occurred from undigested mucus that was in the saliva.
If you are breastfeeding your baby, there is a chance your baby is getting too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk.
The foremilk has less fat and more lactose in it. It provides many carbs, proteins, and vitamins. Hindmilk is much higher in fat and has many more calories, which your baby needs to grow.
A lack of hindmilk can cause your baby’s stools to contain mucus. To prevent this, make sure your baby is entirely emptying your breast during a feeding. If this doesn’t happen, next time begin feeding your baby from the breast they last finished on (source).
It is not uncommon to see mucus in a baby’s stools during the first few weeks of life or if the baby is breastfed. The presence of mucus is usually harmless, but it can sometimes be an indication of something else (source).
Mucus in the stool can mean that an infection or allergy is present too. If your baby experiences mucus stools with the accompaniment of other symptoms or if your baby has mucus in the stools for more than two days — call your doctor (source).
Stools With Blood
Finding blood in your baby’s stools can be very alarming. The last thing you probably want to do is closely examine your baby’s poop, but it can give you some answers.
Here are some of the possible issues you’ll see.
1. Stools With Bright Red Blood
There can be a variety of reasons your baby may have bright red blood in their stools, but you should call the doctor if you notice any of the following.
- Normal poop with slight red spots: This usually is the result of a milk protein allergy.
- Constipated poop with slight amounts of red blood: This is usually a result of an anal tear.
- Diarrhea mixed with red blood: This can be a result of a possible bacterial infection.
2. Stools With Blackish Blood
If you notice blood in your baby’s stool that actually looks very close to being black, this means it is blood that has been digested.
You probably think this is rather bizarre, but if you are breastfeeding there is a simple answer. This occurs when you have cracked or bleeding nipples and your baby is digesting the blood.
There are very rare cases where this can be a result of your baby bleeding from the upper digestive tract, however. It’s always best to be safe rather than sorry, so reach out to your doctor for more insight.
Causes Blood Or Mucus Appear
There can be many reasons your baby has blood or mucus in its stool, but many of these reasons aren’t too serious.
Some cases may pose a higher threat than others, but nonetheless, there is something not quite right (source).
- Infection: It is possible the blood or mucus could be a result of infections like salmonella or E.Coli. This can also lead to diarrhea, fever, and vomiting.
- Diet: Babies are sensitive to many things and the slightest change in diet can have some crazy effects.
- Anal tears: Blood could be present in your baby’s stools if there are small tears in the lining of the anus. This area is very small and delicate in babies and it can easily tear with the passing of a large or stiff stool.
- Digestive tract/colon issues: If the blood seems to be continuous or if there is a large amount, there is most likely an issue with the digestive tract or colon.
- Intussusception: This is when one portion of the intestine inverts with another. This is a very dangerous situation and it requires immediate medical attention. This would be accompanied by sudden loud crying and abdominal pain. The episodes associated with this typically last 15 to 20 minutes and then end only to pick up for longer and longer amounts of time.Intussusception is traditionally thought of as being abdominal pain associated with “red currant jelly stool”, in which the stool looks like currant jelly.
Editor's Note:Christine Traxler, MD, BS
- Colitis: Allergic colitis is when your baby’s immune system overreacts to certain proteins and causes inflammation and ulcerations to occur.
- Breastfeeding: If you are breastfeeding and you have a bleeding or cracked nipple, it is possible for the blood from this to be ingested by your baby and to appear in their stools. This is harmless.
- Vitamins: There are certain vitamins that can react differently with your baby and cause blood or mucus to appear in the stools.
Is This an Emergency?
Blood or mucus in the stools can be alarming and it is possible your baby might need emergency care.
If you notice blood or mucus in the stools, but your baby is acting normal and happy like usual, just give your doctor a call to inform them and see if they want to take further action.
If there is blood or mucus and your baby is in extreme discomfort, it is probably in your best interest to visit the emergency room (source).
It is important you first try to find out what is causing the issue. This is easier said than done, but a doctor’s visit should lead you in the right direction.
Once you determine what the issue is, there are some simple changes you can make that should cause the presence of blood and mucus to disappear. The majority of all the problems are a result of some issue in your baby’s diet.
Below you will see problems and their solutions regarding mucus and blood in the stools.
- Colitis: The best way to combat colitis is to give your baby only breast milk for the first six months. If you aren’t breastfeeding, you should find a formula that most closely resembles it.
- Food allergy: You should always introduce your baby to a small amount of a new food at a time. This way if there is a reaction, you can easily determine the source.
- Diet-related bleeding: If you have determined your baby’s diet is at fault you should make a change. The issue is usually related to milk so you should change formulas if your baby is formula fed, or eliminate many dairy products from your diet if you are breastfeeding.
- Anal fissures: These usually occur when your baby is constipated, so there is a chance your baby is not getting enough water. You should incorporate more water into your diet or more water into your baby’s formula. If your baby is eating baby food, you could incorporate more prunes, high fiber cereals, or pears.
- Infection: Your doctor will be able to prescribe an antibiotic to combat any infections.
Finding blood or mucus in your baby’s stool is a cause for concern. You should contact your doctor to figure out what your next steps should be.
If your baby seems to be in an extreme amount of discomfort, it is best you seek medical attention immediately to validate whether or not there is a serious underlying problem.
It is not normal for blood or mucus to appear in the stools, so there is something going on that isn’t quite right. Your doctor should be able to help you determine the issue.
Often times, something diet related is the culprit. If you can pinpoint certain changes in the diet, you can more easily avoid certain foods or milk that will cause your baby to develop mucus or bloody stools.
It seems as if parenting can always be full of many surprises, even if that means analyzing a diaper. Sometimes that quick glance in the diaper can give you more insight into your baby’s well-being than you imagine.
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