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Do babies poop in the womb?

Most parents look forward to the moment when their newborn passes out a dark, sticky substance in their diaper – just hours after birth. Yes, your baby’s first poop (also known as meconium) is truly a reason to rejoice, as it is a sign that their digestive system is all up, running and ready to go.

Now, we know that meconium is made up of nutrients that your baby ingested in utero, but do babies actually poop in the womb? Or is the meconium the first-ever poop to come out of your baby? The MinuteEarth Youtube series gave the answer to these questions in a recent video.

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Life in the womb

In the video, creator and narrator Henry Reich explained that embryos start peeing in the womb from the second month onwards. That is when your little being starts swallowing the amniotic fluid that surrounds him – which means that he essentially drinks his own pee for seven months. But there’s no need to worry about womb activity, as the pee that comes out (and goes back in again) of your tiny baby is sterile, so your baby won’t get sick.

Now, when it comes to doing the big poop business in the womb, things work a little differently. As baby receives only the good nutrients from your body, there is no need to poop in utero – at all. This is because mum’s body, which acts as a protective shield, does all the work by digesting food and absorbing most of the junk.

However, there might be some leftover waste that will sneak into the fetus’s sterile intestine and eventually turns into the sticky meconium that you’ll find in your newborn’s first diaper.

Meconium stools

It is common for babies to have dark-sticky bowel movements on their first 2 to 3 days of life. This is quickly followed by transitional stools by the fourth or fifth day, which is more greenish-brown in colour and will be replaced with the regular yellowish milk stools by day 6.

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Baby not passing meconium

While there are some parents who fret at the sight of their baby’s meconium-filled diapers, there are others who worry when they fail to spot traces of meconium in their baby’s diaper by the second day of life.

Babies who do not pass meconium stool by day 2 could be suffering from some complications in their system, such as an obstruction in the intestine. A series of physical examinations and x-ray tests may need to be done to find out why the baby is having difficulty in passing meconium.

Passing meconium in the womb

There are instances of babies who pass meconium before they are born, which leads to a meconium stained amniotic fluid. This situation can occur when a baby is distressed in the womb or when mum is suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes or pre-eclampsia.

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Mums who have traces of meconium in the amniotic fluid will be closely monitored, because if the baby ingests this meconium stained fluid in her lungs, it can cause Meconium Aspiration Syndrome in the baby, a potentially life-threatening lung disorder.

It is important to monitor your baby’s bowel movement and patterns, especially during the first few days of life. Be sure to seek advice from your doctor for any doubts that you may have during pregnancy and after the birth of your baby.

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