It is normal for babies to lose weight in the first few days after birth. Your baby will be weighed on day three or four and it is normal for babies to lose up to 10% of their birth weight.
When your midwife weighs your baby she will also ask how feeding is going and with your midwife you can complete the feeding assessment on page 44 of your maternity notes (yellow book). If you or your midwife have any concerns about feeding then your midwife will help you with a plan to help your baby feed more effectively.
Your baby should be back to their birthweight by 14 days. If there are any concerns at this stage your midwife will help you with a feeding plan and may refer you to the infant feeding specialist midwife for extra support.
If your baby has lost between 10% and 12% of birthweight then your midwife will support you at home to help your baby regain weight.
If your baby loses more than 12% of their birthweight your midwife will arrange for you and your baby to be readmitted to the postnatal ward or the Children’s hospital. This is so that a paediatrician can examine your baby for signs of infection or other illness that may have contributed to the weight loss. The paediatrician will take some blood tests from your baby to help them find out if there are any problems causing the weight loss. Usually there are no problems and the midwifery team will support you with latching your baby and helping you to make sure your baby gets lots of milk. Your baby will be weighed again the next day and you can go home again as soon as you and the midwifery team are happy that baby is gaining weight again.
How can I help my baby gain weight?
A feeding plan will usually involve the following:
- Help to make sure your baby is getting a good latch on the breast
- Possibly checking for tongue tie if your baby seems to struggle to latch
- Helping your baby to feed at least 8-12 times in 24 hours
- Possibly expressing milk to help increase your milk supply
- “Topping up”; giving your baby some extra feeds of expressed breastmilk after a breastfeed to help baby get more milk quickly. This can be given by bottle and teat or by cup
- Sometimes it may be necessary to give some extra feeds of formula milk especially when babies have lost a lot of weight. This will be temporary and you can usually go back to exclusive breastfeeding after a few days.