In the first few days it is normal for a baby to lose up to 7% of their birth weight. If your baby’s weight loss is over 7% your midwife or Public Health Nurse may want to closely monitor their feeding pattern and nappies.
By day 5, when feeding is going well your baby will start to gain weight. It can take up to 2 weeks for a baby to get back to their birth weight. Some babies gain weight faster than this. Your Public Health Nurse will use a ‘Growth Monitoring Chart’ to record and track your baby’s individual growth pattern. On this chart your baby’s weight, length and head circumference are recorded at regular intervals to give an overall picture of their growth pattern. The current Growth Monitoring Charts used in Ireland are accurate for breastfed babies.
You may notice that there are some days where your baby feeds more frequently than usual. This may last for 2 – 3 days and then your baby settles back into a similar pattern to before. This is called a ‘growth spurt’. It doesn’t mean you don’t have enough milk. By feeding more frequently your baby helps increase your milk supply to meet their growing appetite.
During a ‘growth spurt’ your baby may seem hungry all the time and your breasts can feel empty. This is because your baby is taking the milk as it is made and not allowing time for your breasts to feel full. Your milk supply will soon respond to the frequent feeds. Some Mums find that their breasts feel too full after a ‘growth spurt’ but this settles down in a few days.
Growth spurts may happen when your baby reaches:
- 2 – 3 weeks,
- 6 weeks,
- 3 months, and
- 5 – 6 months.
As these times approach, be prepared to spend 2 – 3 days feeding more frequently than usual. Some Mums find it a good time to rest, relax and enjoy spending extra time with their baby. Dad (or other family and friends) can help by taking baby for short periods during this time to give you a break, and helping with older children. Getting out in the fresh air for a short walk or taking a bath or shower is a good way to regroup.