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By Jessica T

The baby growth imperative

Uploaded: Oct 9, 2013

Not every newborn experience has been glowing? With each passing day in the hospital, my husband and I were made painfully aware of just how much weight our babies were dropping as we waited impatiently for my milk to come in. Our twins were perfectly healthy and born over 5 lbs, and I had enough milk to feed a village when my first daughter was born. We knew that my milk would come in a day or two later since I'd had a c-section, but nevertheless, there was mounting pressure from our nurses and pediatricians to supplement the twins with formula such that we relented on day 3.

I'm still irritated about the pressure we received. I know that not everyone can or is willing to breastfeed. I struggled to breastfeed my first daughter for 8 weeks before it became at all comfortable. Like last time an instinctual determination kicked in to exclusively breastfeed the twins as much as possible. We stopped supplementing with formula the day we came home from the hospital (and now have a freezer full of breastmilk to boot). I had no intention of letting my hard-fought twins starve - god forbid! When the twins started gaining again (too quickly according to the lactation consultant), one of the pediatricians begged us to disregard the lactation consultant's counsel to slow down on the supplementation.

Imagine my surprise when I received this note from my friend across the country who had a baby three weeks after me:

We had to stay an extra day in the hospital because our baby lost 11% of his birth weight-- and the lactation consultant had me totally freaked out--tears, hormones, major drama. Not sure how moms with twins handle breastfeeding two little ones! The good news is our meeting with the pediatrician went well--and she was like "Hello, babies lose weight after they are born. Sometimes I think the hospital staff overreacts a little too much" I am thinking we picked a good peds :) She was very reassuring and pretty great.

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry! Like my friend, my obstetrician assured me that healthcare professionals go through stages where they are more and less neurotic about baby growth...It appears that we're in a growth hysteria peak...

At the twins' five week appointment, their weight gain was healthy. The pediatrician we saw indicated that she was eager to see them catch up to other babies born three weeks later and "get on the growth chart" within another month. She also wanted to ensure that I was making absolutely enough milk and pumping with great frequency. Once again, I felt as though my maternal instincts were being called into question. If my babies are healthy and their weight gain is consistent and tracking well, why doubt the mother? My breastfed daughter is now a strong ten year old! These are little human beings, not the latest technology to go to market, so why should conforming to a growth chart matter?

What about you? Have you been pressured by your doctors unnecessarily to satisfy a statistic?