If you have never cared for a newborn before, you may be surprised when you change your baby’s first diaper and find a thick, greenish-black, tar-like substance in the diaper.
This substance is known as meconium. This is your baby’s first bowel movement.
The first several bowel movements will be made up of meconium. Once your baby begins to be nursed, the meconium will quickly pass out of her system, sometimes even before you leave the hospital.
Generally a baby does not pass meconium until after birth. Occasionally, however, a baby may pass meconium into the amniotic fluid either before or during birth.
The danger is that the meconium can then be breathed into the baby’s lungs and cause inflammation. If meconium is present in your amniotic fluid when your water breaks, you and your baby will be closely monitored to make determine whether your baby is in distress.
Meconium can be difficult to clean from your baby’s sensitive skin. Ideally you should wait until your baby is a few days old to begin using baby wipes.
Until then, use gauze pads or soft washcloths to cleanse your baby’s bottom. Using wet gauze can help remove meconium, as can a quick wash with baby wash and a washcloth.