Watch Out for Inflated Birth Weights

Posted in , on 10-15-12

Watch Out for Inflated Birth Weights

Your baby’s weight is important. It helps you track the healthy growth of your child. There is a lot written about baby’s weight – but to understand the numbers, you have to understand the bottom line. (i.e. I have a poop chart and I’m not afraid to use it…)

Let’s start with your baby’s birth weight. There are a few factors that can make it inaccurate, based on the circumstances. If you received an epidural, it would falsely increase your baby’s recorded birth weight. Before an epidural is given, mothers are given a bolus (an excessive amount) of iv fluids. These extra fluids can raise birth weight by ounces depending on the amount of fluid given to you.

This is a concern because, in a hospital setting, your baby will be weighed every 24 hours and the weight will be compared to the “official” (inflated) birth rate. If too much weight is lost, hospital policy mandates supplementing with formula. In most cases the weight loss can be attributed to the baby peeing and pooping the excess fluids she received from his mother intravenously during child birth.

It is normal for a baby to lose some weight after birth. By 7-10 days a baby should be back up to around her birth weight, gaining steadily 3/4-1 oz per day. A good indication of healthy weight gain is to measure your baby’s intake against your baby’s output. It’s all about the dirty diapers.

This chart will help you measure “normal” output  for a newborn.

Weight checks are an important part of your babies well baby check ups though they should be used as a screening tools, not diagnostic tools. This means that if a child is not following the expected pattern according to where they are on the chart, your doctor needs to look closer to see if something else might be going on. It does not automatically mean that there is a problem. Do not panic.

We need to look at your baby’s development as a whole, not just as a comparison to a standardized growth chart. We need to look at your baby to see if she is meeting her developmental milestones. Is she alert and happy? Is she satisfied after feeding? How about those diaper deposits?

Weight gain for a breastfed baby is different than a formula feed baby. It is important that your healthcare provider is using a growth chart specific to breastfeed babies.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS) both recommend that children’s growth be plotted on the new World Health Organization (WHO) growth charts. The WHO charts, unlike the old CDC charts, are based on the growth of babies under biologically normal conditions (breastfeeding, mothers who don’t smoke etc). When looking at a child’s growth, it is important to be comparing their growth with the biological norm.

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