During the first week of life, it's expected that a baby will lose several ounces, up to 10 percent of his birth weight. After the first week, however, your baby should be steadily gaining, and should at least be back at his birth weight by the end of the third week. By the third week his face should be rounding out as well. Your health care provider will weigh your baby at each visit.
If your baby doesn't seem to be thriving or gaining weight, or you're worried about any signs that he's not getting enough, contact your health care provider.
How Much Is Not Enough?
Occasionally you may feel that your baby isn't getting enough milk. Your baby may seem hungry after a prolonged feeding, and yet you feel "empty." This is nature's way of making your milk supply keep up with your baby's growth spurts. This is the way the system works.
To help you increase your milk production when this happens, nurse frequently as your baby demands. You also need to drink more fluids and get enough rest. This may mean that for a day or two, you have to divert more time to nursing and resting yourself than to your other activities. Be assured that your baby is fine as long as he feeds vigorously and continues to urinate and stool normally as suggested above. Your increased milk supply will meet his adjusted need.
It takes about 36 to 48 hours for your body to adjust to your baby's increased needs. It's your baby's job to nurse frequently enoughto give your body the right signals. So let him do his job. If you give him a bottle, he'll get lazy on the job, and your body won't get the "increase" order.
All nursing mothers go through brief periods where supply doesn't meet demand. Nature's way of meeting this increased demand is for the baby to nurse. Relax and enjoy these natural rhythms.
Milk on the Go
If you're going back to work, you can still breastfeed your baby by pumping milk at work once or twice each day and bringing the milk home for the next day's lunch. And we recommend that you do. It's one way to feel very close even when you have to be away. Nursing frequently in the evening and at night will keep up your milk supply and can give you the special closeness to your baby that you may have missed while at work. Nighttime nursing is even more effective than nursing during the day, so you may want to nurse more at night, even longer than your baby needs it, in order to maintain a strong milk supply.
There are several ways to express your breast milk -- by hand, with a hand pump, or with a motorized electric pump. Renting an electric pump for a few months may produce the best results.
You can leave expressed breast milk at room temperature for about six to eight hours, or in the refrigerator or a cooler for 3 to 5 days, if you need to, since it contains natural preservatives. You can also freeze breast milk for future use. It willt lose some of its disease-fighting properties, but even after freezing, it still contains the best balance of nutrients for your baby. Thaw frozen milk by setting it out at room temperature or running it under warm water. Once unfrozen, do not refreeze.
Stored milk should be gently shaken, as the fat will have separated and risen to the top. Mix it up for an even meal and an easy flow through the nipple.
Be sure your workplace has a clean, private, relaxing place for you to express your milk. It will make a lot of difference in your attitude and your success. If such a place isn't made available, speak up. Many employers are willing to help out if you let them know what's needed for you and the other nursing women at your workplace. There is a real financial payoff for employers who help out: less absenteeism for parents who are at work (because of fewer days spent at home with sick kids), higher employee satisfaction, and better retention, too. There've been a lot of studies to show these benefits to businesses.