Your newborn's diarrhea can be unpleasant, particularly if it is foul-smelling and leaks from the diaper. It can also be alarming if you notice that your baby's stool is green in color rather than the typical yellow or brownish shades you are used to seeing. Although green diarrhea in an infant is not typically cause for alarm, it is important to understand why it can occur and when you should seek medical attention for it.
According to the BabyCenter website, it is normal for your baby to have green, loose stool for the first couple days of his life. During the first few weeks your baby passes meconium, a greenish, tar-like substance that gathered in his bowels while he was in the womb. If you breastfeed, the colostrum in breast milk is a laxative-like ingredient that helps your newborn to evacuate the meconium from his bowels. In some circumstances, green diarrhea can also be a sign that your baby is drinking more foremilk instead of hindmilk, has an intestinal infection or is sensitive to certain foods or medications.
Treatments and Prevention
If breastfeeding, only switch to the opposite breast when your newborn finishes all of the milk from the first breast. This will assure that she receives more hindmilk, the less watery and more nutritious milk that is excreted after foremilk. If diarrhea is chronic, eliminate dairy from your diet if you are breastfeeding or ask your doctor if you can switch to a non-dairy-based formula for approximately three weeks to see if your baby's symptoms improve. If your pediatrician approves, give you baby an oral electrolyte solution such as formula between feedings.
As long as your pediatrician has ruled out any serious conditions, do not be alarmed if your newborn's green diarrhea symptoms linger for several weeks. An intestinal infection can take a few weeks to heal. Some newborns just have runny, green-tinted stool even without infection or illness. As long as your newborn does not have a fever, is thriving and is not sick in any other way, there is no need to be overly concerned.
Seek medical attention if your newborn develops blood in his diarrhea, seems to experience extreme pain in the abdomen, loses weight, acts limp, doesn't seem to focus on you or does not respond well to your touch or voice. These could be symptoms of a more serious condition such as allergies, an infection or dehydration. If you suspect that your baby has a virus, refrain from exposing him to other children. Babies who have virus-related green stool are typically contagious for as long as the diarrhea lasts.