One of the other ways to make sure babies are getting enough ‘fuel’ is by keeping track of their weight gain. This is normally done by a health professional.
Oddly enough, babies actually lose a little weight at first and often don’t get back up to their birth weight for a couple of weeks. That’s why the doctor will want to weigh your baby at the two week point. After that they gain about 4 to 8 oz. (113 – 227grams) a week for the next few months. Babies usually double their birth weight by around five or six months of age. But, there can be quite a big range in normal baby growth patterns.
This is just background information. You don’t have to weigh your baby unless a doctor or public health nurse advises you to. Most babies, both breastfed and formula fed gain weight very well. But once in awhile a baby struggles to gain weight. Then you need professional help.
Your ‘low fuel’ alarm should go off if your baby:
- Doesn’t feed at least 8 times in 24 hours
- Has fewer wet diapers than days old (for newborns)
- Is very sleepy (sleepier than normal for your baby) and hard to wake up to feed
- Doesn’t seem to be feeding well or doesn’t seem satisfied after each feeding
- Has less than one dirty diaper in 24 hours
You don’t have to panic. But call somebody – a lactation consultant, a breastfeeding clinic, the public health department.
Make a plan
It is a really good idea to have a plan about who to call for help with breastfeeding problems before you need to make that call.
You may never need to call for breastfeeding help. But get the phone numbers together. This is actually a good Dad job. Ask around and find out who the best breastfeeding experts are in your community and make a list of the numbers. It might come in handy some day.
Are there ever times when you should go straight to the emergency department? That’s hard to say, but if you’re ever really, really worried about your baby, don’t hesitate to go to the hospital.
Need more information?
Here is the address for the website of Canada’s top breastfeeding doctor, Dr. Jack Newman with the International Breastfeeding Centre.
The International Breastfeeding Centre’s site has solid information on every breastfeeding issue there is. It also has some very useful short videos that demonstrate the finer points of breastfeeding such as how to tell if the baby is actually drinking milk (as opposed to just sucking).
You could also tell your partner that on the La Leche League website, she can send a question by e-mail and a La Leche League leader will respond.