If there is anything a new momma wants more than anything else, it is for her baby to be healthy and thriving. One of the main ways that we can tell your baby is healthy is through her weight gain. Knowing what to look for, how much your baby should be gaining, and how to know what is healthy goes a long way towards relieving any worry you may have.
What is Normal?
The first thing to know is that your baby may lose a little bit of weight at first and this is completely normal. Remember, your milk will not come in for between 2-5 days, and during that time, your baby is getting colostrum from you, which is rich in things that make her immune system strong and help her body to grow. Within 2-5 days, this colostrum will start transitioning into regular milk, and will be fully changed to breastmilk by around 14 days. Your transitional milk in those “in between” days gives your baby the best of both colostrum and your breastmilk.
Usually by day 7, and almost always by day 14, your baby will be back to her birthweight. From this point, your baby will begin to gain somewhere around 5-9 ounces a week for the first month. After the first month she will gain 1-2 pounds a month for the first 6 months. From 6 months to one year she will gain about one pound per month. Remember, though, that these are averages. Your baby may gain greater or lesser amounts and still be perfectly healthy. If you have any concerns or doubts about your babies weight gain, please discuss this with your healthcare practitioner and ask them if they are familiar with what is normal for breastfed babies. Breastfed and formula fed babies gain weight at different rates and your healthcare provider needs to make sure they are using the correct charts to reference your babies growth.
Just like older children, your infant will gain weight in spurts, so she may gain 4 ounces in one week, and 9 the next. This is why it is important to not weigh your baby every day (unless you have been instructed to do so by your healthcare provider or lactation expert).
If you are Going to Weigh
If you are going to be weighing your baby yourself, weigh them around once a week. Use the same scale, and make sure it is calibrated in the same way. It is not accurate to hold the baby and then step on a scale, then put the baby down and then weigh yourself again without holding the baby. If there are true concerns about weight gain, you will want to talk to your health care provider about an accurate way to weigh your baby at home that will eliminate as many of the things as possible that could cause the weight to be different from one time to the next. If you do weigh your baby at home, make sure the baby has the same exact clothes on (or no clothes at all) and no diaper.
Just as there are wide ranges of what is normal and healthy for adults, there are the similar normal ranges for infants. Weight is only one measure of healthy. Look for plenty of wet and poopy diapers and for your baby to be reaching expected developmental milestones.
When to Seek Help
If there are true concerns about your babies weight gain, work closely with a lactation consultant, midwife, or other healthcare practitioner who is very experienced with breastfeeding. They can sit with you while you breastfeed and evaluate your latch, help with your diet and fluid intake to make sure you are getting plenty of nutrition, and evaluate your nursing relationship with your baby to determine what could be adjusted to improve your babies weight gain. We make some wonderful products that can help to naturally support your milk supply, and naturally increase your milk supply if you need.
Remember, more than likely, you and your baby are going to be just fine. Millions of women before you have successfully breastfed, and you probably can too. If you need some help to find your confidence and learn some skills, that is just fine too! Most of us don’t grow up in a culture that supports breastfeeding and we don’t see women breastfeeding their babies as a normal part of life. But it really is normal, and you can do this. Take a breath, trust your baby and your body, and let your love and milk flow!