Posted by: Admin | March 16, 2015

Is your newborn baby’s weight loss normal?

A baby that thrives gains weight. He will also grow in length and his head circumference will gain some centimeters. All parents know this, but what we are unsure of is the pattern of weight gain that we should expect and when we should be concerned.

First let’s look at the newborn

All newborns lose weight in the first few days following birth. Babies can lose up to 7-10% of their birth weight. An easy way to calculate this is to take the first 3 digits of the baby’s birth weight. For example, a baby weighing 3500 grams at birth can lose up to 350 grams (equal to 10%) before we start to get concerned. Breastfed babies, as they receive a small quantity of breastmilk, will lose more weight (average of 5.5%) than bottle-fed babies (average of 2.5%). This does not mean that artificial milk is better than breastmilk, but simply that bottle-fed babies are receiving an abnormally big quantity of food and they lose less weight because of that. They also stretch their stomach and overload their digestive system.

If you are concerned about your baby’s initial weight loss after birth, it is important to remember that this weight loss is normal and you should not worry. Also, your baby will not gain weight until your milk comes in which will happen between the 3rd and 5th (sometimes later) day. When your milk starts to increase, your baby will not lose anymore weight and he will remain at the same weight for a day or two (called a plateau). Once your milk comes in, your baby will start to gain weight more rapidly. Here is an example of a baby’s weight gain pattern following his birth:

Birth to 3-5 days:  weight loss up to 10%

3-5 days: remains the same,  loses or gains only a few grams

5 days and up (when your milk comes in): from .6 to 1.4 kg monthly or 130 grams to 330 grams per week for the first 3 months (a baby never gains everyday…no use for daily weight checks).

A newborn baby that loses weight is a normal occurrence. Being anxious about it will only make things worse as it will undermine your self-confidence. All mothers make milk after delivery. It is a normal physiological process called lactogenesis 2 and it is triggered by the placenta detaching itself from the wall of the uterus.

If a health care worker informs you that your baby must receive a bottle of artificial baby milk as a supplement because he lost too much weight, ask to see the weight loss pattern. If your milk has come in (breasts feeling heavy or full), your baby should be in a plateau or will start to gain weight. Even a small weight gain like 5 grams is a good sign. Continue to breastfeed often: from 8 to 12 times per 24 hours is normal. Let your baby take the breast whenever he signals he needs to breastfeed. If you feel better offering a supplement, offer breastmilk! There is no need for artificial milk when you have all the food your baby needs. Ask for a breast pump or use your hands to express some breastmilk and give it to your baby. At the beginning, expressing in a small medicine cup or a spoon is much better as you do not want to lose a drop on the sides of a container. You can use the cup or spoon to offer the breastmilk to your baby. Never assume the quantity is too little or that it is not worth keeping. Breastmilk is like liquid gold: a few milliliters will stabilize your baby’s blood sugar, give him proteins and fats and protect him against illnesses.

Next post: The baby’s weight gain pattern – 0 to 12 months

Dany G.

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