In the first few days, it is normal for a baby to lose up to 10% of their birth weight. If your baby’s weight loss is over 10%, your midwife, lactation consultant or public health nurse will check their feeding pattern.
They will look at:
- how well they are attaching to the breast
- how they are transferring milk
- how often and how long they feed
- how many dirty nappies they have
- what your breasts look like before and after a feed
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.
In the first 3 months, breastfed babies usually gain around 150 to 200 grams a week. Your public health nurse and GP will record and track your baby’s growth patterns.
Your baby's mood or sleep patterns are not reliable indicators of milk intake.
During growth spurts, your baby will need to breastfeed more often. It does not mean they are feeding more because you do not have enough milk.
Feeding more often is called cluster feeding. It may last for 2 to 3 days and then your baby will settle back into a similar pattern to before.
Feeding your baby upon demand will help 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.
It's best not to limit feeds to a set number of times. Your milk supply will soon respond to the frequent feeds. You might find that your breasts feel too full after a growth spurt but this will settle down in a few days.
Growth spurts may happen when your baby reaches:
- 2 to 3 weeks
- 6 weeks
- 3 months
- 5 to 6 months
As these times approach, prepare to spend 2 to 3 days feeding more often than usual. You may find it a good time to rest and relax.
As your baby grows, so does their tummy. Offer both breasts at each feed. Your baby will usually feed for longer from the first breast and for a shorter time from the second breast. Some babies may only need to feed from 1 breast per feed.
Your baby’s stomach is only the size of a cherry in the first few days. Small regular amounts of milk will be more than enough to fill their tiny tummy. Expect to feed 10 to 12 times in 24 hours at this stage.