After your baby is born it is expected that they will lose some of their birth weight, up to 10% is considered normal for a breastfed baby. Four out of five babies will be back up to their birth weight within two weeks of being born, but what if your baby doesn’t?
Slow Weight Gain
It can be really difficult as a new parent if your baby is not gaining weight as quickly as expected. Your midwife will monitor your baby’s weight closely and you will not be discharged until your baby has returned to their birth weight. This can be a very stressful time, but you are not alone. Your midwife is there to help and offer guidance. They may ask to watch you feeding your baby, particularly if you are breastfeeding and they will also look at your baby’s overall health as well as look to see if your baby has tongue-tie (see below for an explanation of what this is).
If your baby’s weight drops more than 10% of their birth weight, then you may be admitted into hospital. This is so you and your baby can be monitored, and more help may be offered with latching on and feeding positions. Once your baby’s feeding pattern is established it is likely they will regain their weight and you will be discharged. It can be difficult going back into hospital but it is important to get all the help you can at this early stage and also to check that your baby is feeding correctly. If they haven’t been checked for tongue-tie then it may be worth suggesting it as this can have an impact on how a baby feeds and is something that can be sorted very quickly. The important thing is to feed your baby as much as possible to help them put weight back on.
Tongue-tie is when the strip of skin connecting the tongue to the floor of the mouth is shorter than normal. Some babies have it and it causes no issues, where others it can cause difficulty with feeding. It can be difficult to spot, and the first signs may be if your baby has feeding issues or doesn’t gain weight as quickly as expected. Tongue-tie may also cause issues for the mother if breastfeeding and can result in low milk supply, cracked nipples or mastitis. If your baby does have tongue-tie and it is affecting their feeding, then a simple procedure can be carried out by a trained doctor, nurse or midwife. Tongue-tie division, as the procedure is known, if done on a very young baby, doesn’t require any anaesthetic as a newborn has very few nerve endings. The procedure itself only takes a few seconds and sometimes the baby will sleep through the whole thing. Research has found that most babies who have treatment for tongue-tie find breastfeeding a lot easier afterwards.
If you are worried about your baby’s weight gain or are having any issues at all with feeding, then it is important to talk it through with your midwife or health visitor and ask for additional help if necessary.
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