Meconium is a very thick and dark green substance that resembles a sticky tar and lines your baby’s intestines during pregnancy. Most babies will lose this substance with each bowel movement after birth. When your baby passes the meconium it is usually very sticky and smelly and not very pleasant to look at. It can be very hard to clean from your baby’s bottom and you will need a lot of water and cotton wool or baby wipes with each nappy change. Your baby may pass meconium regularly for a few days.
However, sometimes a baby may have a bowel movement before birth or during your labour causing there to be meconium in the amniotic fluid. If you can see meconium when your waters break, you should seek medical advice from your midwife, doctor or labour ward immediately as you will need extra monitoring and tests to ensure your baby does not suffer any foetal distress.
For most babies, having meconium in the amniotic fluid poses no risk or problem although some babies can swallow the meconium which may mean your baby will need extra care in the early hours. It is also possible for a baby to inhale the meconium into their lungs, this is known as Meconium Aspiration Syndrome (MAS) and can cause problems as the sticky, thick meconium can make it very difficult for the baby to inflate their lungs immediately after birth. If this happens to your baby, they will also require extra care and monitoring during the first few days.
If you have any concerns about your baby’s meconium or are worried about any aspect of your pregnancy or labour, you should speak to your midwife.
by Jenny, mum to William and James