Your beautiful baby is here, and you have decided to breastfeed! While you feel like feedings are going well, you want to be sure that your baby is getting plenty of breastmilk to be happy, growing, and thriving. Well, since you aren't exactly measuring what's going in, how can you tell?
One way to know that your baby is getting plenty of milk is that your baby is gaining weight appropriately.
After an initial weight loss following birth (see an explanation below), your baby should be gaining steadily and back to birth weight by the time they are about 10 days old. Once your baby is gaining, they’ll continue to gain about 5 -8 ounces per week or so (sometimes more) until they are closer to four months old.
In the early days, your baby may lose a bit of weight following birth (particularly if you have received IV fluids), and this can be OK. If they begin to lose too much weight, this is a sign that feeding may not be going as well as it could be. There might be a simple fix like adding in more feedings or adjusting baby’s latch, but this is a great time to find support so that you can meet your feeding goals. A 5-7% weight loss can be normal. 10% means let's pay attention to what’s going on here, and anything more says we need to see what baby is doing and make a feeding plan that works for the family.
When a baby is not gaining weight as well as he should be, it does NOT mean that you are doing something wrong. Even if you have breastfed your older children, this baby is new to breastfeeding, and you are new to breastfeeding this baby.
As I mentioned above, there may be a very easy fix for weight gain problems. Sometimes very sleepy babies have trouble waking and cueing to feed. Sometimes baby is not latching in a way where he can effectively get plenty of milk. Working with an IBCLC can help you find the root of the feeding problem, and the two of you can work together to create a feeding plan that helps you meet your breastfeeding goals.
For more information on how to know breastfeeding is going well or when to ask for help, head over here.