Meconium is your baby’s first stool. Babies get their nutrients through the umbilical cord, but still can and do swallow while in the womb. That means amniotic fluid, mucus, and epithelial cells pass through the baby’s digestive tract. Typically, the meconium stays in the intestines until after birth. The baby’s first few bowel movements will clear out the meconium, which is usually very dark and viscous and almost odorless.
As a result of stress during the labor and delivery process, babies sometimes expel meconium while still in the uterus. The meconium then mixes with the amniotic fluid. While your baby is in the uterus, it actually “breathes” the amniotic fluid. That means meconium can get into the baby’s lungs.
This is called meconium aspiration syndrome. The meconium is sticky and irritating. It can block the baby’s airways, affect the lungs’ ability to exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen, and cause pneumonia. In severe cases, it may be fatal.
Click on the links below to learn more about meconium aspiration syndrome.