Andrea Tran RN, BSN, MA, IBCLC

When you have a baby, there is a lot of attention paid to their weight. When your little one is born, people will want to know how much he weighed. At the hospital, the nurse will weigh your baby every day. When you take him to see the doctor for check-ups, one of the first things they do will be to put him on the scale. Your baby’s doctor will plot the weight on a growth chart. 

Weight gain in babies is a sign of well-being. However, many new parents are surprised when their baby loses weight in the first few days after birth. However, this is entirely normal and happens to all babies, whether they are breastfed or formula-fed. It is not a free for all though. There are guidelines as to what is normal weight loss for a baby after birth.

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What’s Normal Weight Loss For a Baby After Birth?

The baby who is healthy and full-term will lose an average of seven percent of their birth weight. Most doctors will be okay with a weight loss of up to ten percent. 

For those babies who do lose more than ten percent, most health care providers recommend supplementary feedings in addition to breastfeeding.  The supplementation can be mom’s pumped colostrum, human donor milk from a milk bank, or formula.

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Why Do Baby’s Lose Weight?

Babies are born with extra fluid and a bowel full of meconium. In their first few days, your baby will pass the meconium and eliminate the excess fluid when he has wet diapers. What they get rid of is going to exceed the small amounts of colostrum he takes in when he breastfeeds.

Mother nature set it up this way. The colostrum actually has a laxative effect to aid them in passing the meconium.

The colostrum is the special name we give the first milk that a woman’s breasts make. Some people think it is not “real milk,” but it is, in fact, just “early” milk. It is full of the things that your baby needs as they make the transition from being a freeloader in the womb to having to eat on their own once they are born. 

A newborn’s tummy is very small, about the size of a cherry. So, the small amount of colostrum is just right for their tiny stomach. As each day passes, a mom makes more colostrum/milk, and her baby’s tummy grows and gets used to larger amounts in it. It’s really the most wonderful system.

When should a newborn start to gain weight?

A baby will usually start gaining weight once their mother’s milk comes in. The milk usually comes in between 48 – 72 hours after birth. 

Moms who give birth by cesarean tend to take longer for their milk to come in than moms who give birth vaginally.

When Should a Baby Get Back to Their Birth Weight?

The guideline set by the American Academy of Pediatrics for a newborn to return to their birth weight is ten days. Most doctors will allow a few extra days if a baby is trending up with their weight. Doctors generally want a baby to be back to birth weight by no later than two weeks. 

What Helps Minimize Newborn Weight Loss?

Babies who breastfeed more frequently lose less weight. Lots of skin to skin and rooming-in 24 hours a day encourages frequent feeding, You can ensure your breast milk comes in fast for baby by using a produce like Milk Dust. Many mamas have had success taking this product in the end of pregnancy, which helped promote lactation immediately after birth. 

On their second night, most babies will start cluster feeding. A lot. It’s like cluster feeding on steroids. It is normal healthy behavior. This intense, frequent feeding is so common that it has a name. It is called Second Night Syndrome. 

The mom who doesn’t know it is coming often worries that her baby is feeding so frequently because the baby is not getting enough from the breast. It is also a difficult time because moms often have not gotten a lot of sleep since they went into labor. 

If I see a mom in the hospital before the second night, I will prepare her for it and encourage an afternoon nap. I also tell her that second night syndrome is a good thing. The frequent feeding helps minimize weight loss, and a mom’s milk often comes in sooner when there is a lot of cluster feeding. 

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What should you do if your baby Loses More Weight Than Normal?

As soon as your baby starts breastfeeding, learn to watch and listen for swallowing. Hearing regular swallows is an indicator that your baby is getting your colostrum when he sucks. 

When a baby swallows, it makes a soft “cah” sound. You will also see a pause in the middle of the suck. The nurses and lactation consultants can show you what to look and listen for. In the first few days, it is normal to see several sucks before a swallow. When the milk comes in, there will be close to an equal number of sucks and swallows.

If your baby is losing more weight than average or not gaining as quickly as he should, doing some pumping after feedings can help increase your milk production, in addition to jumping on a milk-supply booster like Milk Dust. Any milk that you pump should be fed to your baby. If your baby is getting all the milk that you have, you won’t get much if anything when you pump. The stimulation is still helpful. Combininb stimulation with the herbs and nutrients in Milk Dust has been super successful for many mamas needing a boost in supply quickly. 

It is always a good idea to have a lactation consultant evaluate how breastfeeding is going when there is too much weight loss or poor weight gain. A lactation consultant can often find small issues right away, and help you correct them immediately to fix any issues early on. Many hopsitals offer this during your stay. 

Your baby will lose weight after birth, even if you feel like you are breastfeeding round the clock. Weight loss after birth is normal for newborns. Remember to have your pediatrician keep track of their weight loss, and don’t lett the weight loss stress you out too much.

If you are allowing yourself to get too stressed, you may find that will inhibit your milk supply a bit. Stay calm, take a supplement like Milk Dust, and keep baby close. Skin to skin and herbs go a long way to ensure baby is getting all the milk they need.