Baby Diaper

What does it mean if I see blood in my baby's diaper?

No one talks about poop more than new moms. While the rest of us feel uncomfortable talking about private bathroom topics, moms quickly become desensitized to such embarrassment or discomfort. What used to be private discussions only had with reliable doctors becomes conversation at the dinner table. My boyfriend’s sister recently had a baby, and a meal with the family was recently transformed into a medical conversation about her newborn’s stool. Once the initial embarrassment passed, we were all comfortably discussing the spot of blood she found in little Manny’s diaper. Though she was in a panic, her mother was explaining that a little bit of blood is actually normal and nothing to become too concerned about. I was surprised about that, considering most studies seem to suggest that any blood associated with a newborn is something to panic about. However, she was absolutely right, and blood in a diaper could be caused by a number of things.

What are the reasons for blood in a baby's stool?

First, a little bit of blood in your baby’s stool might actually be blood that he or she ingested. This isn’t common for babies who are only drinking formula, but a breastfeeding baby easily might have swallowed some of your blood while breastfeeding as a result of broken or cracked skin on the nipple. If your baby did have blood in his or her stool, check your nipple to see if you might have been the source. If not, it might be related to something else.

Another possible cause is a tear in your baby’s rectum, but this is not usually the case for babies that are still in diapers since hard food has not yet been introduced. Tears in the rectum happen to adults when a stool is too large or hard, but your baby’s stool won’t be very large yet. If your baby seems to have trouble passing stool, that is another issue you need to discuss with his or her pediatrician anyway.

What are other possible causes?

Finally, the blood might not even be from the stool at all. Male infants might bleed as their circumcision heals and females might have vaginal blood as their hormones regulate. You should also check to see if the blood might be associated with a bad diaper rash.

No matter what the obvious cause might be, you should bring up the blood to your baby’s doctor so that he or she can closely monitor any potential developing problems.

Source: L Cordero et al: Visible Blood in the Stool in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Journal of Neonatal Perinatal Medicine Volume 4 Issue 3 pp. 221-229 November 2011

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