If you have been following my blog over the past week, or following me on twitter you will know that Emma, at six weeks old, is still below her birth weight.
I have written some posts here and here about our progress so far. I shoud state now that am not overly concerned. In all other respects she is thriving – she is alert, content after most feeds (unless she has wind!) and is producing plenty of wet and dirty nappies.
I feel incredibly lucky that the healthcare professionals I have come into contact with so far have been really supportive, all agreeing that she appears healthy, happy and content. This is in marked contrast to some other people’s experiences that I have read about. I am, however, surprised that there isn’t more blogger content about slow weight gain – its an issue I’ve come across a few times on twitter and facebook but I can find surprisngly little about personal experiences online.
Let me start by saying that breastfeeding is really tough. I mean REALLY REALLY tough. Daniel was combination fed (both breast and formula) until seven months due to a whole host of reasons, not least that he was very poorly when he was born. I don’t think I quite appreciated with Daniel just how tough it is to exclusively breast feed a newborn. There have been days when I have felt like all I have done is sit in the same corner of the sofa feeding Emma. There are times when I have come close to making a trip to the 24 hour Tesco to pick up some formula. I can understand why breastfeeding rates are so low in the UK.
It’s only been the support of my husband, and twitter (and sheer bloody mindedness!) that I have persevered so far, something that I am really proud of. At this point I need to say a special thank you to the lovely Emma Harris of Me the man and the baby who has been great in offering support and words of encouragement, but also for Re-tweeting my calls for advice. In the dark hours of the morning when you’re sat feeding a newborn when you’ve been awake for what feels like hours it’s nice to know someone out there is thinking of you and going through similar things.
I’ve done a lot of reading on the internet to try and understand what could be causing Emma’s slow weight gain, and there are, as you’d expect, many theories. I’m inclined to think that she is just a slow gainer and is finding her correct place on the lovely centile lines. It feels like we can get too obsessed with centiles and charts. I appreciate that they have their place in ensuring babies and toddlers are following a general pattern, but they also serve as a source of stress and anxiety for many new parents. Daniel sat below the bottom centile line for height and weight for a long time, and it never concerned me. Emma was born on the 25th centile line and has dropped to the bottom; maybe my children sit naturally on that bottom line?
There was an article I came across that stressed that we should look at the bigger picture, look at a child’s parents. I’m 5’1 and whilst my husband is 6′, he is a slim build. You’d expect that our babies are more likely to fall on the smaller side. Especially if I look at my sister-in-laws children – all were smaller babies and all are slim builds – having their growth spurts later in life.
Emma also had a tongue tie which affected her ability to feed effectively – from the moment that was fixed at nine days old her feeding was stronger and her nappies started to increase and change to the correct colour. I also ended up on antibiotics for seven days which made me poorly, but also I think upset Emma’s tummy and gave her thrush.
Is it any wonder things haven’t been plain sailing so far?
So…. hopefully I’m right to not be too concerned at the moment. For now my little girl is happy, healthy and content, and I’m continuing out breastfeeding journey…. I just hope tomorrow my anxieties will be eased and I will see a good weight gain! In the meantime I will keep drinking my herbal nursing tea and feeding my little lady.