Green Stools in the Breastfeeding Baby

breastfeeding-basics-logo-2.jpgWhat do you do if you notice your breastfed baby has green, frothy stool? Here is the scoop on green poop. There are two main considerations when a baby has green watery bowel movements: (1) oversupply and a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance, or (2) baby’s reaction to something the mother consumed.

Oversupply and Foremilk/Hindmilk Imbalance

It may take several weeks for a mother’s milk supply to regulate. When a mother experiences oversupply, the baby can take in too much low-calorie, lactose-rich foremilk and not enough high-calorie, fat-rich hindmilk. That can lead to fussiness, gassiness, low weight gain and/or green, watery stools. A mother can attempt to remedy the foremilk/hindmilk imbalance by “block feeding”: feeding on the same breast for any feedings during a two to three hour period. The mother nurses on one side per feeding, and if the baby wants to nurse again within two to three hours of starting that first feeding, she continues to nurse the baby on that same side so that the baby gets more hindmilk. During that block of time, the mother can express just enough milk on the other side to prevent engorgement, plugged ducts or mastitis.

Adverse Reaction

It is possible that the green stools are evidence of a sensitivity, allergy or negative reaction to something the mother consumed. Green stools with mucus is a one of the possible signs of a food sensitivity, along with fussiness, trouble sleeping, pain, eczema or rash, congestion, and blood in the stool, among other things. If you suspect an allergy, read more about allergies here.

Interestingly, some mothers taking the galactagogue fenugreek report green, watery stools as a side effect in their babies. It’s unclear whether this is from the fenugreek herb itself or the mother’s increased milk supply from the galactagogue.

As always, if you have concerns about your baby’s health, consult a doctor. Certainly if the green stools persist or there is any question about possible low weight gain, seek medical attention.

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    • http://wildnursling.blogspot.com MotherOfThree

      Interestingly enough, our little girl always had green colored poop (though not watery or frothy, just green) when she was teething really hard. It was always a warning sign that it was going to be a long hard night.

    • http://www.breastfeeding123.com Angela White, J.D., breastfeeding counselor

      I wonder if it was from extra saliva intake from drooling? Or maybe she nursed more often but shorter times for comfort? Thanks for the comment!

    • clara

      My baby has been having green liquid stools and I pump for twenty to thirty minutes every session. I’ve always done this so I was wondering what could of changed? I’m also eating the same…so what could it be?

    • http://www.homebirth.org.uk Angela Horn

      I was on my 5th fully-breastfed baby before I got the hang of this! My first four had plenty of green, frothy poos, gas, and so on. When they got fussy on one breast, I changed them to the other side – a bit puzzled, but noticing that the milk squirting everywhere suggested I didn’t have a shortage! They all gained weight well, though, and remained exclusively breast-fed until six months or so, and continued to nurse until around age 2. Before my fifth was born, I heard about single-sided nursing and it made such a difference. I nursed on demand, but kept her on one breast for 3 or 4 hours. Much less fussiness, and no green frothy stools – except when I forgot and reverted to my old pattern, eg when on the computer or distracted talking to friends – and lo, the Thunder Nappies returned!

    • anjum

      my 5mnt daughter has green stool from last 10 days…. i dnt know what will i do??? Will you help me?

    • http://www.breastfeeding123.com Angela White, J.D., breastfeeding counselor

      Anjum, that’s a long time for green stools to persist and it sounds like you could benefit from calling your baby’s doctor and a La Leche League leader. Good luck!

    • anjum

      Thanks Angela, for your advice. I will defenetly going to her pedriatics. Angela will you tell me about brain fever in infants, and causes and protection.

      Regards

      Anjum

    • http://www.breastfeeding123.com Angela White, J.D., breastfeeding counselor

      I’m sorry Anjum, I don’t know anything about brain fever!

    • Ashley

      My baby has had green poop for a week now, I’ve taken him to the doctors twice and they say he’s healthy. I don’t think I have an oversupply problem because when I pump I don’t get that much out. This artical at least narrows down my options to what could be the problem. I just left a message with a lactation consultant to call me. Hopefully we’ll be able to figure this out!!!

    • http://www.breastfeeding123.com Angela White, J.D., breastfeeding counselor

      Hi, I’m glad to her you will be working with a lactation consultant!

      About the pumping, keep in mind that some women simply do not respond well to the pump. The baby is much more efficient at nursing, so what you are getting from pumping is not necessarily a good indication of how much your baby is getting at the breast. Other ways to tell if you might have oversupply are by determining whether your baby’s weight gain is greater than average, or if you regularly feel engorged. I’m not saying you have oversupply, just that it cannot necessarily be ruled out from what you’re getting at the pump.

    • Bea

      Can underproduction of breast milk cause green stools in an infant?

    • Reesa

      My 8 week old daughter has had green poops for a few days and recently there was traces of blood in them. Plus she developed a rash all over her face, scalp, and neck. Frantic, I went to the doctor and she seems to think it’s milk protein intolerance. Very interesting and very common. I suggest researching it…. eased my mind a lot. She told me to eliminate dairy from my diet for a week or two and see if it improves. If so, my daughter is just sensitive to the milk protein. Giving it a shot.

    • Pingback: What Causes Green Poop in Breastfed Babies? — Seriously Spoiled

    • http://twinsanity-plusmore.blogspot.com Erykah

      My fifth child had watery, green stools and at first I attributed it to fenugreek. Then the runny nose and eczema started and we discovered it was a milk protein allergy. I have gone completely dairy free and it cleared up in a couple weeks (cradle cap, runny nose, eczema all went away.)

      I found this site as I was goggling green, mucousy poops because I believe he has a viral infection. I was hoping to find correlation to a bad cold and green poop.

    • ap

      what are the things to be done as remedial action, before consulting a child specialist??? i mean to get rid of green frothy stool.

    • http://georgemugadza349@btinternet.com rutendo

      my baby has passed green stool, and i have spotted some blood. please help, i am really worried

      • Wendy

        I know you posted this almost two years ago, but the same thing just happened to me. I would like to know if you found out if there was any connection. My son just had green stool today and I spotted blood yesturday.

    • sherry

      I have switched to feeding three times on one side. The stool has changed to yellow again. My question is can I go back to one breast at on feeding and the other at the next. Or should I continue to feed with 3. I don’t know if the milk imbalance will happen again or not. My breast size has went down since switching to this formula.

      Thanks,
      Sherry

    • Primrose

      my 8 month old handsome had green poo poo. He takes soft porrridge with yoghurt daily n 3 tyms a day mostly. Could it be because im giving him too much yoghurt..but its usually 50 to 100g grams times 3. He is stil breastfeeding by the way. No formula for him

    • Katie

      My daughter is 7 months old and we’ve been breastfeeding exclusively the whole time. She’s been having green mucusy poopie for about 2-3 weeks now. She’s been eating fruits, veggies, and cereal and had some juice in her diet as well. I eliminated the juice thinking that’s what was making her poop so often but that hasn’t seemed to help anything and the poop is still green. I haven’t changed anything in my diet so I’m not sure what’s causing all this. We do have the foamy stuff sometimes too. Should I try block feeding or remove dairy from my diet? Not sure what to do.

    • Vlada

      My baby boy is 2 months old and I have just switched from breast milk to formula …. He hasbt pooped for 12 hours and has finally had his first stool and it appears to be greenish ? Does anyone know what tht can mean ? Or has any one had the same problem?

    • http://www.breastfeeding123.com Angela White, J.D., breastfeeding counselor

      This is definitely something to bring up with your child’s pediatrician. Be sure to ask about whether it might be a sign of a food allergy. Good luck!

    • http://www.breastfeeding123.com Angela White, J.D., breastfeeding counselor

      Hi Sherry! I’m glad to hear the “block feeding” on one side is working for you! You can try gradually going back to feeding on one side, perhaps going down to two times per side then one time per side. It should get better as your milk supply regulates. If it happens again you can always go back to block feeding temporarily and try again later. Good luck!