HOW TO ASSESS BREASTFEEDING/CHESTFEEDING

A key part of the health professional’s toolkit is assessment of whether breastfeeding/chestfeeding is going well or not. The picture below shows what to look for in the history, and the other central piece of information is weight gain. Exclusively breastfed/chestfed babies on average lose 6-8% of their birth weight, with the average maximal loss at day 2 - 3 of life. The average time for exclusively breastfed/chestfed babies to regain birth weight is 8 days. They would then be expected to stabilise on a weight centile and grow along it. The faltering growth page shows definitions of what is concerning after the first few weeks of life, and the excessive weight loss page discusses management of early weight loss.

Is Feeding going well?

Wording adapted from Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative, with permission

The stool parameters only apply in the first 4-6 weeks of life. After this point it can be a normal pattern for exclusively breastfed/chestfed babies to pass stool every few days, or even once a week, although the average breastfed/chestfed baby will still stool at least once a day.

Parents' Voices Matter

Also remember the value of listening as a therapeutic tool - see this advice card from the Parenting Science Gang:

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