For stoolgazing parents nothing raises eyebrows like a bright green diaper. And it’s those shades of neon green that often stir a call to the pediatrician. So what’s the deal with green stool? Is it a problem or preoccupation?
Well take a seat and let's talk about the color of poop. Stool gets it’s color from bile released in the intestinal tract just beyond the stomach. Bile happens to be green. As it makes its way along the length of the intestinal tract, bile undergoes a transformation in color from its original green to a shade of yellow ultimately reaching a rich chestnut hue. I liken this transformation to the ripening of a banana.
Stool that reaches the end of its journey green or yellow typically means that the journey has gone a little quicker than expected. It’s typically nothing of concern although we can see this at times during a tummy bug. Green watery diarrhea in a child can be a problem in this case not because of the color of a baby’s poop but because of the potential for dehydration. So stool color has to be looked at in the context of a child’s other symptoms. If your child isn’t otherwise ill, a green diaper shouldn’t be cause for alarm.
Still the green stool spooks even the professional. I had a mother recently come very close to abandoning breastfeeding after being told by a lactation consultant that her baby’s green stools were the result of too much foremilk. The mom, desperate for her baby to produce the perfect diaper, tried to no avail to manipulate her baby’s feeding. While it was perhaps the only instance where I’ve seen micromanagement by an LC divide the mother-baby dyad, it’s just one example of the perils of stoolgazing.
So don’t let your preoccupation with stool characteristics become an obsession. And the next time someone frets over a green stool, send them this link.