3 Tips for helping baby gain weight while breastfeeding

I work with new moms all the time in postpartum consultations and classes who are concerned about their breastfed baby’s weight gain and if they are getting enough milk.  First off, I’d like to mention that healthy weight gain is just one piece of the well-baby puzzle.  There are several other indicators of wellness that include baby’s development, head and length growth, skin and muscle tone, ability to be active and vigorous, good diaper output, etc.  

As an IBCLC, I try to assess each of these factors and not just the weight gain as the sole indicator for a baby’s overall wellness to make sure that baby’s needs are being met.  Additionally, if a baby is doing well in every other area, I think breastfeeding management between the breastfeeding dyad (breastfeeding mother and baby), the healthcare provider/pediatrician, and an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) is a very reasonable approach. Today I wanted to share a few tips on how to get baby more calories overall and encourage weight gain.

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1 – Use hand expression during and between feeds

Hand expression can help in a few ways.  It can encourage efficient breast emptying when used while baby latches.

It can also be used in-between feeds to remove milk and up their calorie intake with a few extra calories.  A lot of times we think either breastfeeding or pumping.  Hand expression is a low-tech but highly efficient way to keep your milk supply up, and offer supplementation with your own breastmilk to make sure baby is getting enough calories.  Once you express your breastmilk, you can offer the expressed milk to your baby on a spoon or medicine cup.

You can learn about how to do hand expression in my online breastfeeding courses.

mom breastfeeding baby in the hospital

baby being fed breast milk

2 – Allow baby to go back to the same breast

When an infant self-detaches from the breast and comes up for a break, instead of switching sides, consider returning to the same breast.  This will increase the chances that baby has access to the fattier hindmilk; hindmilk comes when the breast is drained more efficiently and comes after foremilk.

lactation consultant, mom and baby
{Nursing pillow by Ergobaby}

3 – Frequent feedings equal higher fat content

Don’t be alarmed at frequent feedings.  As long as baby is latching well and transferring breastmilk, there is no problem.  newborn babies are born with a strong desire to suck!  When you breastfeed frequently, the breastmilk tends to contain more fat and it also helps milk production.

mom holding her baby

I love to see babies happy and content in their mama’s arms!

lactation consultant talking to a mom

I hope this helps! My online breastfeeding courses are available here and are such a great resource for breastfeeding moms to learn on your own time, at your own pace.  The video classes come with a notes outline and can be watched again and again – they never expire!  You can also book a consult with an IBCLC either virtually or in-person here.  Come say hi on instagram today – I love hearing your experiences and answering your questions!

I’ve created this great e-mail course to help you get breastfeeding started on the right foot! Click the image below for more info.

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Lindsey Shipley, RN, IBCLC

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