I've mentioned before that some health professionals may have higher expectations than you or me when it comes to weight gain. They may not be using the most current growth charts or they may just not be used to seeing many exclusively breastfed babies at their clinic. Some babies gain weight faster than their friends, and some gain weight slower.
Always look at your baby as a whole. Is he/she content, alert, meeting developmental milestones, peeing, pooping and in general good health and born at term? If your baby was born a little early then you can use the same growth charts, you just need to subtract the number of weeks they were born early to read the correct weight expectations. An infant born 8 weeks early should be plotted accordingly and would reach 12 months of age on the chart 8 weeks after their birthday..
If all is OK, but the health visitor is still not happy with your baby's weight gain and you would like to please them (I don't think it's mandatory) here are some tips to encourage more weight gain.
- Offer feeds more often.
- Offer the second or third breast if not already doing so.
- Use breast compressions or do a little breast massage once you feel that feeding has slowed or baby is falling asleep. (Hold down the breast for a number of seconds to provide a sudden gush of milk which may wake a sleepy baby and massage towards the nipple to help move the thicker, fatty milk towards the baby's mouth).
- Lots of skin-to-skin contact with baby is great for getting those lactation hormones going. Take a few days and spend them in bed with baby just snuggling and feeding.
- Make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids and eating well, it can be easy to let things slide when you have a new baby to take care of. Continuing to take a multi-vitamin can be beneficial too.
- If you have the time or inclination and are going back to work anyway you could consider pumping once a day at the same time to cheat your body into thinking you need an extra feed each day.
- Expect to cluster feed at some point during the day and go with it. The more a baby feeds at the breast on-demand the better your supply will be. If you are using a dummy, hide it for a few days so that baby is feeding at the breast at every opportunity. If baby is able to get all of their sucking needs met at the breast then you'll have a good supply and benefit from not having a period or being fertile for longer (LAM - Lactational Amenorrhea)
I have recently met a few new mums who have extremely sensitive nipples which causes pain for them usually between feeds and when they are in cold places such as the freezer aisle of the supermarket. I too suffered in this way for a few months after my son was born. My nipples were white when they came out of my sons mouth and I had pain between feeds. If this has happened to you, make sure that you see a local breastfeeding specialist to make sure it does not need medical attention.
A company sent me a sample of their new breast warming pads and I shared them with one of these new mums to see if keeping her npples warm between feeds would help with the pain. Her comments are here -
"I found Breast Aid very comfortable and definitely kept the breast warm so ideal for preventing nipple vasospasm associated with Raynaud's. If you position the pad exactly right the nipple isn't squashed and if worn under the Emma Jane bra (which does compress the nipples) the pad helps to push it out again therefore minimising compression of the nipple so ideal for Raynaud's sufferers. I've also worn them outside when it's been really cold and they've really helped to protect the nipple from the cold."
You can find other testimonials at the company website here, note that I used my name instead of the clients to keep her anonymous.
I have these new breast warming pads in stock if you feel they could help your situation. They are created using flectalon which reflects your own body warmth, keeping the nipples warm and helping milk flow. They come in small and large in colours black and white. Buy your own Breast Warming Pads for only £22.50 at BoobieMilk.