Doctors often advise new moms that it is normal for your newborn to lose weight within a week or two after birth, regardless of whether you formula feed or breastfeed, because he is expected to gain it back. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines, newborns are expected to surpass their birth weight by 7 to 10 days old and continue to gain 4 to 7 ounces a week for the first months of life.
A recent research of 143,000 newborns in the U.S., however, shows that it can take longer for a newborn to gain back the weight lost after birth, a finding that may be a source of comfort for parents who are worried that their babies take longer to gain weight.
Published in Pediatrics, the monthly scientific journal of the AAP, the data suggests that, at 7 days old, “the majority of newborns take more than a week to achieve this milestone, sometimes weeks longer [to achieve the ideal birth weight based on current guidelines],” say the researchers led by study author Dr. Ian Paul, a researcher at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Results showed that only half of vaginal and cesarean babies were able to surpass their birth weight at 9 and 10 days, respectively. At 21 days, 5 percent of babies born vaginally and 8 percent of infants delivered via cesarean still hadn’t reached their birth weights.
The newborns in the research were born near or at full-term between 2009 and 2013. A third of the babies were born vaginally and the rest through cesarean delivery. Sixty-three percent of the infants were exclusively breastfed during their stay in the hospital with only 4 percent being exclusively formula-fed. Researchers note, however, that data was not taken on whether the babies were breastfed or formula-fed after discharge.
The research's findings should be reassuring especially for breastfeeding moms because it means "slower regain of infant birth weight does not signal inadequate maternal breast milk supply, but rather a normal newborn growth pattern," Tessa Crume, a researcher at the Colorado School of Public Health in Aurora (she wasn’t involved in the study) told Reuters.
It may also “reduce the need for clinicians to recommend formula supplementation for breastfed newborns who have not regained their birth weight by 10 to 14 days after birth.”
Our Department of Health has made significant efforts to promote and support breastfeeding in the Philippines through initiatives like Unang Yakap (First Embrace) which encourages immediate skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding after delivery and the first-ever National Summit on Prematurity and Low Birth Weight and its discussion on reducing newborn deaths through breastfeeding among other interventions.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding -- giving no other food to your baby except breastmilk -- for the first six months of life. “Breast milk is the ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants; breastfeeding is also an integral part of the reproductive process with important implications for the health of mothers,” says WHO.
To help ensure a steady milk supply, Abbie Venida-Yabot, a lactation counselor certified by the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH), advises latching constantly during the first six weeks and direct feeding whenever possible afterwards.
For those going back to work, Abbie strongly recommends expressing milk. “As breastfeeding works on the law of supply and demand, it is important for your body to feel the demand even when baby is not around,” she tells Smartparenting.com.ph in an article. “It is ideal to express milk every 2 hours or as often as baby feeds, regardless of your output.”
Always consult a doctor for any concerns about your newborn’s weight or feeding. “Parents whose infants have not regained birth weight by 7-10 days should continue to be closely monitored by healthcare providers,” Dr. Sarbattama Sen, a researcher at Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told Reuters.