Meconium is the first stool (bowel movement) of a newborn baby. It is dark green, tarry, and sticky, and is composed of the cells that the fetus consumes during pregnancy (including amniotic fluid). Usually, meconium stays in the newborn’s bowel until after birth. But sometimes (for about 15-20% of all babies), as was the case in my second birth story, there is meconium in the amniotic fluid at birth. There are several reasons this can happen, some completely normal (newborn’s bowels are mature and begin functioning), and some more emergent. The most emergent risk of meconium-stained amniotic fluid is Meconium Aspiration Syndrome.
Meconium Aspiration Syndrome (MAS) is a rare complication when a baby inhales meconium either in utero or during birth (more on how this happens here). This occurs 2-5% of the time for the 15-20% of babies who pass meconium before birth. Although extremely rare, MAS can be fatal, and so is treated with caution.
More interesting resources and information on meconium and MAS to come on Friday.