Breastfed baby does not gain weight. And now what?

Full-term babies come to the world stocked with energy storage. Many professional health providers suggest formula milk as a solution, if the baby loses weight in his/her  first days of life. It is normal and acceptable for a baby to lose up to 10-15% of his/her birth weight. It is due to the loss of fluid in the uterus and the increase in mobility and calorie consumption. The recovery will start, after 7-10 days.

When a mother gets such large quantities of fluid, the baby does too, proportionally, and at least a couple of studies show that the more fluid the mother receives the more likely the baby is to lose 10% of his birth weight. Note also that most of babies are weighed first in delivery, and on different scale in postpartum. Moreover, within the limits of normal, the baby continues to put weight down to 12th to 14th day of life. From there onwards, growth monitoring is done by placing the measurements on the appropriate growth curves for infants, depending on age and gender.

Typically, newborn babies gets between 170 and 225 grams per week in the first 6 months – that is, from 450 to 900 grams per month. If your baby eats enough, it will produce urine around 8-10 times a day if nursing (it will do less if it is fed with milk formula). Research shows that the breastfeeding effort, nursing availability and early response of a mother at her baby in the first 24 hours is important. More than 49% of the babies are going to lose 10% of their birth weight because they did not start breastfeeding a few minutes after birth.

In the first month of his/her life, the most frequent reason of not gaining weight fast is the cause of mistakes in breastfeeding or mothers availability to the baby. Most of the times the problems are:

  • The wrong latch of the baby’s mouth to the breast (poor latch on). If your baby is not latching on correctly, or it just latches the nipple, the amount of milk that he/she gets will not be enough
  • Stop breastfeeding or apply them on a schedule different from your baby’s requirements. That will also cause a problem on your milk capacity.
  • Intake of milk supplement, use of pacifier will also reduce problems in breastfeeding
  • When we do not respond to the baby’s desire or during the hunger cues 24 hours a day, or whenever the baby asks for it.

Monthly weight gain in nursing infants is on average less than that of infants fed with formula milk, especially in the second half of their life. Breast milk has the ability to reduce its protein content as the infant develops and receives extra protein from solid foods. Especially, the miracle of nature is perceived when the content of breast milk is different at the beginning until the end of the meal. The milk in the first few minutes of the meal is rich in protein (foremilk), while passing the time it reduces the protein ratio and increases the fat content, which is beneficial for the brain development.

Monthsgr/ per week by WHO gr/per week by Breastfeeding and Human Lactation
0- 455 – 241 170
4- 692 -126 113 -142
6-1250 – 80 57 – 113

The breastfeeding infant learns to eat on the basis of the feeling of satiety, which means that, it eats when it is hungry and stops eating when it is full. This is because the parent has no control over “when” and “how much” because the baby is sucking from the breast as much as it needs and whenever it wants. Breastfeeding is free and unrestricted.

Also, the weight gain is different for boys and girls. For boys, normal weight gain is 40 grams or more per day after the 14th. For girls, normal weight gain is 34 grams per day. Inclusively  breastfeeding infants get more weight than formula-feed or bottle-feed babies in the first three months. Then the rate of growth is decreasing, so there is a difference of 600-650 gr at 12 months.
The rate of weight gain should not be the most important criterion of in good health of a baby. The mental health and the interaction of the child with other people are more important. Do not hurry to give  supplement if your baby is okay otherwise. We want normal and healthy babies. Health is built on strong foundations and breastfeeding supports these foundations.

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