New parents are often very concerned with weight gain in the first weeks of their baby’s life as this is a good guide to how a baby is thriving. It is important to note that a newborn baby will possibly lose 7-10 per cent of their body weight in the first week particularly if they are breast fed. They should regain this weight within ten days. Any concerns can be discussed with your healthcare professional or breast feeding expert.
If your baby does not regain weight it may be due to problems with their reflexes
Reflexes are involuntary movements or actions; the following are the normal reflexes vital to feeding in a newborn baby.
This important reflex begins when the cheek near the corner of the baby’s mouth is stroked or touched. The baby will turn his or her head in the direction of the stroking. This helps the baby find the breast to begin feeding and is a useful way of seeing if the baby is hungry and encouraging them to feed. This reflex lasts about 4 months.
Once the baby has used the rooting reflex to latch onto the breast or bottle, and the roof of the baby’s mouth is touched, the baby will begin to suck. Premature babies may have a weak or immature sucking ability because this reflex develops late in pregnancy. Babies have a hand-to-mouth reflex that goes with the rooting and sucking reflex which is why they may suck on their fingers or hands.
Babies and mothers do sometimes need help and support from a professional with breastfeeding. It is a natural process but it is not always easy to start with. Perseverance is important as the benefits of breast feeding are great to both mother and baby.
Have your baby’s latch evaluated by your nurse, a doctor, a lactation consultant, or a local breastfeeding support group.
Take your baby to the doctor to check for an illness or any other problems that could be interfering with breastfeeding. Infections, tongue-tie, jaundice and other newborn issues can cause poor nursing and weight loss in infants.
There are many ways of dealing with these problems and your doctor will advise accordingly.