Weight loss in newborns


Usually one of the first things people ask once you’ve had your baby is “how much do they weigh?!” But did you know it is very normal for your baby to lose some weight after they have been born?

It is normal for your baby to lose up to 10% of their birthweight in the days following their birth. This is because they are born with extra fluid and their body will flush it out. If your baby loses over 12% of their birth weight this is considered excessive weight loss and your midwife will work closely with you to provide a feeding plan with closer observation, this may include help from a lactation consultant.

The degree of weight loss is determined by many factors, including the type of birth you have, how much fluid you received in labour, how fast your milk comes in and how often your baby is feeding, which is also affected by their gestational age and if your baby is unwell. Therefore each baby will lose a different amount of weight. Likewise, each baby will take a different length of time to regain their weight, but usually we would expect babies to reach their birthweight by around 2 weeks of age. Babies should start to regain their weight after around day 5. This is because your breastmilk should now have come in and your baby should be more alert, active and feeding well.

Look out for signs that your baby is feeding well. Remember, for something to be coming out, something has to be going in! So wet and dirty nappies are a good indicator your baby is feeding well. Your baby should be doing around 5-6 heavy wet nappies after day 5 and your baby should be passing regular yellow stools. Your baby should be settling well after feeds and not seem lethargic or difficult to wake and feed.

Whichever method you choose to feed your baby, feed them on demand, look out for their feeding cues and offer the breast or give them a bottle whenever they are showing signs of hunger. But whilst they are below birthweight do not leave longer than 3 hours between feeds, even waking regularly throughout the night to feed your baby. Talk to your midwife or another healthcare provider as soon as possible if you feel your baby is not feeding well.

If you would like more information on feeding methods, looking for hunger cues and knowing when your baby is feeding well then join us for our full day antenatal class.