Infant Dyschezia

Infant Dyschezia

Why do some babies strain or seem to have a hard time passing poo? Well, a baby’s body needs to learn how to poo and this happens as the stomach muscles get stronger and the nervous system develops. After crying for 20 or 30 minutes, straining, turning red, and grunting, they have a soft poo. This is called infant dyschezia. The stools are soft and there is no blood. This can happen many times each day. Many parents think it is constipation, but it is not. It is however a very normal newborn behaviour.

What causes it? In order to poo, the stomach muscles must tighten and the bottom muscles have to relax at the same time. Some babies cannot do this without help. 

How is it treated? The best thing to do is wait. It can take a few weeks to a few months. It will go away on its own. Suppositories or stimulation with a rectal thermometer have not been shown to help. Gentle tummy massage and holding your baby in frog leg position (squat) may help. It may be hard for you to see and hear, but your baby is not in pain. Your baby is learning how to use their new body and learning how to coordinate their muscles. The grunts and cries are due to your baby’s attempt to push out the poo. It will stop once your baby learns how to push.


NOTE: Call your baby’s GP if you have any questions or concerns or if your child has special health care needs that were not covered by this information.

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