Learning About Meconium Staining

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What is meconium staining?

Meconium is a thick, greenish-black substance. It forms before a baby is born. In the womb, a baby swallows and digests the amniotic fluid. Then the intestines make meconium.

When your baby is born, meconium is the first stool your baby passes.

But sometimes meconium comes out before the baby is born. It goes into the amniotic fluid. This is called meconium staining.

Your doctor may see the meconium staining when your water breaks. It can also be seen when your baby is born.

What problems can happen with meconium staining?

Your baby may breathe the meconium into his or her lungs. This can happen while the baby is being born or just after the birth. This substance can make it hard for your baby to breathe. It may also lead to infection.

If your baby has meconium staining, hospital staff will watch for signs of lung problems. Your baby may need more medical care. In most cases, more care is not needed. But if it is, your baby may have to stay in the hospital longer.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.