When you're not spending your time feeding, you'll be changing baby—as often as ten times every day. While that may sound like a lot, changing baby will soon be a routine which you'll barely even notice. And believe it or not, you won't mind. Here's what to expect:
Stools. First-time parents may be amazed at what appears in baby's nappy. All sorts of things can have a big effect on the appearance of baby's stool including what your newborn is eating (breast milk or formula).
The first bowel movement is a thick, dark-green or black substance known as meconium, which filled baby's intestines before birth. Once your baby expels this matter, normal digestion will begin, and the stools will get softer and lighter in colour. A breastfed baby will gradually have soft, almost runny BMs that look like seedy mustard. Formula-fed babies will have firmer stools that are tan or yellow. Older babies will pass stools that take on the colour and consistency of what they ate recently, so if something seems strange, keeping track of baby's eating habits should help you determine if there's a problem.
If your baby goes a day or two without passing any stools, don't panic, provided your child's tummy is soft and baby is content. Each baby is different, and how often to expect a BM varies. Some babies, for instance, have one after every feeding. Others, particularly breastfed babies, have just one a week. Contact your health care provider if your baby has hard or very dry stools, or if there are noticeable amounts of blood, mucus, or water in the stools. True constipation is rare in infants.
Because a newborn's stools are usually somewhat runny, it's hard to tell if a baby has diarrhea, or is just having a typical and healthy BM. Pay attention to see if there's a sudden increase in the frequency of BMs, or whether they're unusually runny or in any way different from normal. If so, be sure to call your child's pediatrician.
Urine. Babies don't follow any particular urination schedule. Newborns have immature bladder muscles that can't hold urine for any length of time, so they won't be 'holding it in' for a while. They can wet their nappies between once an hour and four times a day and be within normal range. This goes for older babies as well. You can expect to change approximately six wet nappys a day (four to six disposable nappies or six to eight cloth nappys).
For the first few days after birth, your baby's urine will be very pale, gradually turning a deeper shade of yellow as it becomes more concentrated from ingesting breast milk or formula. You may find a pinkish stain on your baby's nappy as well. This is probably concentrated urine, and as long as your baby is wetting four or more nappies a day, it's nothing for you to worry about. If this staining persists for a few days, however, or if you spot true blood in the urine or stool, call your health care provider promptly. It may be hard to tell at first if baby is wetting nappies, because a newborn doesn't pass much urine. To be sure, put a small square of toilet paper in baby's disposable nappy to see if the paper gets soaked.
On a side note, during the first few weeks, remember to carefully avoid the cord stump, allowing it to fall off and heal on its own.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.