Blood in Stool

For any new parent, finding blood in your baby's stool after changing a diaper can be a scary experience, particularly when you have taken steps to ensure your baby gets the best nutritional start in life through breastfeeding.

Not knowing what’s going on, can leave you frantically searching for answers. Remember, even if you’ve had several children, each one brings new surprises and unique experiences…and every breastfed baby is different.

There are sure to be mishaps and stumbles along the way, and there will most likely be times when you’re facing something you don’t understand and need answers.

Take the time to read a little about some of the reasons for blood in the stool and get peace of mind that comes from knowing you will make an informed decision, when and if you are confronted with this condition.

Blood in Stool
Common Causes

More often than not, blood in infant stools is not dangerous and the result of something that can be remedied quite easily. The most common cause is an allergy to dairy, which passes through the mother’s milk to her baby during breastfeeding. Cow’s milk, in particular, triggers allergic colitis, which is a fancy name for baby blood in stool caused by a common milk allergy. As long as a mom avoids dairy products for a while, the blood in stools should stop.

While dairy allergy is the most common, there are other causes of blood in stool, including certain types of intestinal infections, infectious diarrhea (Salmonella) and even rectal tearing caused from straining while passing stool or constipation. However, the majority of cases are harmless and temporary.

A baby may also have blood in his/her stools because of blood in the mother's breast milk.

Technical Stuff

In most cases, red blood in stool is caused by the bovine protein found in milk and beef. One thought is that dairy products can and often do, create blood and mucus in stool because of lactose malabsorption. This condition causes irritation, which can often lead to finding some blood in your baby's stool.

Luckily, it can be remedied by slowing down gastric emptying, which is accomplished by increasing baby’s fat intake. How do you do that? Before breastfeeding, pump off the foremilk which is often lower in fat than the milk that follows. Also, consider using breast compressions to increase the amount of fat baby gets while nursing.

Seeking Treatment

While it is never advisable to self-diagnose, finding bright red blood in stool does not necessarily mean there’s a serious problem. If your baby is otherwise playful, happy and appears to be normal, it’s probably okay to wait to see your doctor, rather than rush off to the emergency room. However, if blood and mucus in stool are accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea and/or fever, seek treatment immediately as a precaution.

By Kerri Hale

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