Newborn Weight Loss & Supplementatin
What is a normal amount of weight for baby to lose before needing to pump and/or supplement with breastmilk?
It is important that I preface this article with a reminder to consult your personal IBCLC and healthcare provider for any concerns regarding your infant’s weight gain/loss and plans for supplementation. The information shared in this article is genearlized, is not medical advice, and is not a substitute for consulting your personal healthcare team. New mothers are typically very concerned about a myriad of details concerning their new baby. Concerns around feeding are probably the most common of all. Every parent wants their baby to thrive and the thought their child could possibly not be eating enough is concerning. In our society, in so many ways, breastfeeding is still kind of taboo and very misunderstood. Even by healthcare professionals. So it comes as no surprise that there is a lot of confusion around what is normal and when we need to call in reinforcements. I want to start by informing you that initial newborn weight loss is normal. If you have had IV fluids of any kind during your birth, your child is more likely to experience an inflated initial weight loss. We consider 7-10% initial weight loss to be within the realm of normal. More than 10% is considered serious and definitely requires medical follow up. But what about supplementation for weight loss? When do you supplement? How much? When? How? With formula or breastmilk? Too often, parents find themselves worried about weight gain/weight loss and turning to supplementation to ensure their baby is growing well. While this sounds like a no-brainer, it can be risky. Some approaches to supplementing can be devastating for the breastfeeding relationship and experience. It is vital to have a supplementation plan that supports breastfeeding, and doesn't undermine it. This is where having a good lactation consultant comes in. First and foremost, my goal is to FEED THE BABY. I will assess an at breast feeding and if there is low transfer, I will encourage the parent to express milk to feed. Second, we start investigating the cause. What’s going on? Why is baby struggling to transfer milk? Why is baby struggling to gain weight? Then we will create a care plan together. There might be an easy solution. There might be a multi-step solution we need to implement. Supplementing without an IBCLC devised care plan puts you at risk for not supporting milk production, and in turn making the problem even harder to solve. If your pediatrician advises supplemental feedings for your baby’s well being, work with your local IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) to develop a plan to ensure your baby thrives AND your milk supply thrives. What is the best formula to supplement with? Mother's milk is the first choice. I will always first encourage expression of the mother's milk for any necessary supplemental feeds. If that isn't working out well, I will inform my clients about donor milk options to consider. Formula is the last option, to which I will refer to the baby's pediatrician to recommend an appropriate formulation.
What tools should I use for supplementing? Typically parents think of bottles and artificial nipples when they think of supplementing but there are actually many other options that support breastfeeding. Work with your lactation consultant to find the right tool for you. Here are some examples: cup feeding, syringe feeding, SNS (Supplemental Nursing System).
Where can you find a lactation consultant?
Well, first, I'll shamelessly plug for myself! I offer both virtual consults and in home consults. But if you're looking for a local in home consult and you don't live in New Jersey, check out https://uslca.org/resources/find-an-ibclc
Jaimie Zaki, owner of Little Bear Services, LLC is a Birth Photographer, Labor Doula, & IBCLC serving families in South Jersey and Central New Jersey. Mother of three, military wife, and lover of coffee, Jaimie enthusiastically supports hospital and home births in Burlington County, Camden County, Mercer County, Atlantic County, Ocean County in New Jersey. If you reside outside of this service area, there are online courses and virtual support packages available! Jaimie is excited to serve your family! Learn more about Jaimie and the services she offers now!
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