Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Lactose Intolerance: The Green Poo Post!

I thought that I would live upto the ‘mummy blogger’ stereotype and write a post about baby poo. Not just any poo mind you, but bright fluorescent green baby poo. You see, this is the site which greeted me upon changing my first daughter’s nappy.

Don’t worry…..there are no pictures of poo!

 I’m writing this post because if I had known then, what I know now, it would have saved my daughter a whole lot of pain (for her) and anguish (for me). Perhaps there is somebody else that could benefit from my story.

My first child, Flash was an extremely difficult baby. From birth she would cry and scream almost all of the day and night for the first 5 months. This is not as much of an exaggeration as you might think! The only way she would sleep is curled up on my shoulder like a koala bear. I spent many nights sleeping sitting up on the couch, holding her.

My little koala bear (with a red mo-hawlk!)

I remember one low day, I had just gotten her to sleep, and managed to put her in her cot (a long, carefully orchestrated and complicated process) when the phone rang and woke her up. I am ashamed to say that I grabbed that phone and threw it into the wall as hard as I could! We then spent the afternoon crying together! Such was the level of my frustration and sleep deprivation.

My baby was never a very good feeder. I breast fed her, because I believed that was the right thing to do. She didn’t really seem to enjoy it. She was gaining weight, however, in accordance with the ‘growth charts so nobody was concerned. Many times during her episode of crying she would sort of contort herself so that she was almost hunched over, like an adult would if they were suffering from a cramping type of pain. I read baby book after baby book, because research is what I do best. I’d come to the conclusion that this was  a combination of colic and a bad nappy rash, that we just couldn’t seem to get rid of.

OK, now for the poo part. My daughter’s nappy was bright green, most of the time, and sometimes it even seem to be foaming! Again I furiously read anything I could in baby books. I became addicted to the books and I think I hold the record for baby book borrowing from the local library. At that time we had no internet connection. I came across green poo being described as ‘normal’ in many of these books. I got used to it, and thought that was just the way things were with my daughter. I also spoke to my doctor and the baby health-care nurses who assured me that green poo was normal and my daughter just had a bad case of colic, that she would grow out of.

When She was 5 months old, I noticed blood and mucus in the nappy as well. So straight of to the doctor we went. Our doctor referred us to a pediatrician as she was worried there could be a serious developmental problem with her intestines.

I should say at this point, that although my daughter was a miserable, screaming mess, I loved her with all my heart. The thought of a serious medical issue had me scared half to death.

The pediatrician immediately suspected lactose intolerance. As I was still exclusively breast feeding, I had to remove all dairy products from my diet (at the time I was consciously trying to make sure I’d eat plenty of dairy as I thought it would help making nutrient rich breast milk). He said that we should start mixed feeding with lactose free formula, and start to introduce non-dairy solids, to dilute out any lactose present in the breast milk.

She took to solid food with relish!

Well, I was skeptical at first. GrumpyDaddy would often complain about having stomach issues after drinking milk. I just put that down to a GrumpyDaddy specific variant of ‘man-flu, that he’d use to get out of doing stuff he didn’t want to do! But I was willing to give anything a try….and it worked!!!

The difference in my baby girl was amazing. Of course she still cried, but not nearly as much, and for as long as before. She settled easier and slept a little more soundly. Although she didn’t end-up sleeping through he night until she was over 4 years old, she would sleep more than 40min at a time. I just couldn’t believe what a difference removing lactose from her diet made. She was like a different baby!

Now she is 8, I still try and keep her on a largely lactose free diet. I once made the mistake of trying out buttermilk pancakes. After eating them she was in obvious discomfort all day, and spent a lot of time on the toilet. I then learnt that most  buttermilk is now made by adding lactic acid to the milk!  Doh!

Interestingly, she has appeared to make the connection herself and naturally shies away from most dairy products except for yoghurt (low lactose). Ironically, I constantly find my self trying to persuade her to have dairy food for the valuable calcium it contains.

When my other two children were babies, I kept them, and me, far away from lactose. Coincidence or not, they were much happier as babies. I wish I had discovered the lactose intolerance before my daughter was five months old. I really would haves saved her from what I think was a lot of pain. I was extremely unhappy as well because I had myself convinced that I was useless at being a mother, having such as miserable child.

So, If you can see similarities in this story, with your own baby or you have come across this post by googling for “green baby poo” go and see your pediatrician immediately. It may be that your baby has a food intolerance. In most cases I think the intolerance can be easily managed. For me, making a few changes in my, and my baby’s diet has made a whole world of difference!

She was busy playing, untill she looked up and saw me...this is the smile that was for me!


  1. That's no good at all - we had constipation issues with the girls when they were little but no green poo!

  2. Thanks Liz, This mum thing was a real learning curve for me.....and it still is!!

  3. This reminds me of my little boy. I had no idea what was going on at the time, but I suspected it wasn't normal. But being my first child I was unsure of myself and what to expect. When I raised my concerns with my GP, I was dismissed. We did not resolve these issues until he was 2&3/4 yrs when I removed all dairy from his diet including the lactose free dairy I had been trying. What a difference! His bowel movements changed rapidly, then his behaviour was considerably modified and lastly 5-6 weeks after removing the dairy, he started sleeping through, no more screaming endlessly in the night! On the nights he still woke up, he would just calmly call out for me. Now at 3 he sleeps through, and is a happy healthy kid. On the odd occasion that he indulges in dairy at a birthday party, boy do we notice it, in multiple ways. My 3 month old niece has just been diagnosed with a dairy allergy also, due to our experience, my sister in law was able to recognise the symptoms much earlier and save her baby pain and discomfort. Thanks for writing this post, more mums need to know that if you think something is wrong with your baby, trust your instincts and seek a second doctors opinion if necessary.