Breastfeeding A to Z

Wet & Dirty Diapers at Delivery

Your baby needs to have a least 3 dirty diapers (stools) every 24 hours after the 3rd day of life.  This is the best sign your baby is gaining weight–without weighing them.

The first dirty diapers you see will be dark and tarry looking.  This is called meconium.  This is the stool your baby has been storing up during your pregnancy.  Once this moves through your baby’s system, usually in 2-4 days the stool will change to a greenish color and then a more yellow mustardy color.  It may look like it is all liquid and just sinks into the diaper.  The stool may look like it has little cottage cheese curds in it or it might look pasty to you.  These are all normal breastfed baby stools.

The amount of stool can be anything from a quarter-sized spot in the diaper to blowing it out the sides. (1)  Either still counts as a dirty diaper.  You just hope you are in a good place when you get the blow out!  Just know your baby’s stool will not look like yours.  Due to the frequency and consistency of breastfed baby diapers, sometimes parents are concerned that their baby has diarrhea–these are normal stools for a breastfed baby.

Because of the protective properties of breast milk it is very rare in a totally breastfed baby to have diarrhea or constipation.  (2)  Be aware, this is the case as long as your baby is exclusively breastfed.  If you change what goes in to your baby–it changes what comes out–as well as the smell and the frequency of your baby’s stools.

Your baby needs to have a least 6 wet diapers every 24 hours by their fourth day of life. (2)  Your baby’s urine should be clear or pale yellow.  Your baby’s volume of urine will increase over the first several days of life.  If you use disposable diapers you may find you are only able to tell 3-4 diapers are wet.  This is because they are so absorbent that it may take 2-3 wettings before they feel wet to the touch.  You may notice disposable diapers are heavier or warmer to the touch versus wet.

  • If there is stool in a disposable diaper, the diaper is probably wet also.  This can be confusing when you are trying to count diapers.  Cloth diapers you can easily tell when they are wet and dirty.
  • If you are unsure if a disposable diaper is wet, try putting a small piece of tissue, gauze, handkerchief or fabric in the diaper to help check for wetness.  You could also try using a cloth diaper for a time or two, so you are sure they are wet.
  • By the end of the first week your baby should be making enough urine that you won’t have any trouble telling that a diaper is wet.

References:

  1. Hoover, M, Lee, N, Wilson-Clay, B, Diapers of the Breastfed Baby, Manchaca, TX, 2002.
  2. Lawrence, RA, Lawrence, RM, Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Professional, 7th edition, Maryland Heights, MO, Elsevier Mosby, 2011, pp 33, 276.