The number on the scale isn’t the only factor in determining your breastfeeding success.
Depending upon the care plan you made with your pediatric health care provider after you gave birth, you will soon have a “first office visit” with your newborn baby. Your healthy, full term newborn needs a timely and complete medical examination to check her physical status and development, perhaps monitor an elevated bilirubin level (jaundice), and check her weight.
We all expect your newborn to lose weight in the first 24-48 hours after you give birth. Many babies are losing their fluid load (as a large urine output) that they have absorbed from their mother’s IV’s and this will lead to weight loss that likely needs no intervention.
Monitoring your baby’s stool output is a more accurate measure of her breast milk intake. Passing the early meconium stools in the first 1-4 days, going from tarry black to green, tells you that your colostrum is at work. Yellow, soft stools will soon follow. The more colostrum… the more poop, and the jaundice level drops as well. Lots of bilirubin (~400mgs!) in that meconium.
With breastfeeding support from experts in the field, excessive weight loss is preventable and if supplementation is warranted… why not try your expressed breast milk rather than formula? A lactation consultant can help you to supplement at breast… no bottle!
Your HCP likely uses a percentage number in practice, perhaps a 10% or 8% weight loss is acceptable and not considered excessive. An educated understanding of the many variables that can influence weight loss helps decide if your baby needs intervention. All too often, with a healthy newborn, intervention means a formula supplement… because of a number on a scale. Better breastfeeding advice is needed for an infant who is not gaining “adequate” weight, not a bottle of formula. Your baby’s number on a digital scale is not a measure of how well or poorly you are breastfeeding your newborn. A practice that fully supports breastfeeding will recognize this and offer their expertise or refer to a lactation consultant if they do not have one on staff.
1. Make your baby’s appointment for after your lunchtime. Feed yourself and your baby before you leave the house. Bring a snack for yourself in the event you feel light headed. Don’t go alone.
2. Bring several of your baby’s soiled diapers to show her transitional stools. These are a perfect example of your successes. The number on the scale is just that… a number. A number to be figured in with several other variables.
3. Once in the office, do not wait in the waiting room. If you are asked to remain in an area with other children, sick or well, you are in a place that doesn’t understand a newborn’s fragile immune system.
4. Be sure to have your naked baby weighed on a scale that balances out to zero before your baby is placed upon it. For valuable results, the same scale should be used each time your infant is weighed.
5. Be sure to feed your baby before her weigh-in. She will be more accepting of being naked and chilled if her belly has been satisfied. If she urinates while on the scale, it counts as her weight. Your baby’s weight at her first visit is a baseline weight, which will become the measure of all her future gains. Your next appointment time will likely be based upon your baby’s loss or gain that day.
Infant weight loss after birth is a normal process, influenced by many factors. As lactation educators we strive to empower breastfeeding mothers through education and redefining how breastfeeding success is measured. When breastfeeding is successful, a newborn can gain approximately ½ - 1 ounce per day...on average, therefore weighing the next day might not yet yield a higher number on the scale.
Be sure to schedule a follow-up appointment with your pediatric health care provider as directed.
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