The first few months are very crucial months for newborns. This is the time when babies need to grow and develop, and weight gain is a key indicator of this. Since my baby had been born prematurely, he had issues with his weight. But I truly believe that God supported us in this journey by telling us just what to do to fix the situation.
Here are the five things that helped my newborn gain weight:
1) Breastfeeding my baby for long enough from one breast so he got enough hind milk
I learnt breastfeeding over a due course of time. My doctor clearly stated that breastmilk is the "golden liquid" for babies. He also assured me that I was lactating well and nursing my baby was key to helping him gain weight. But there was something else I was told to ensure: that my baby got enough hind milk.
Hindmilk refers to milk that comes out at the end of a feeding and it has a higher fat
content than foremilk, or the milk at the beginning of that feeding. To guarantee that our little one benefits from this, we should make sure we feed for an enough duration of time from one breast, so the breast gets empty. The less milk in the breast, the higher is the fat content.
2) Feeding on demand and not going by the feed every two hours rule
I had heard from several sources - the 'feed every two hours' rule. But my baby never followed it. Never! He would demand a feed every hour or sometimes (rarely) after an interval of a few hours. But my thumb rule was to feed him when he demands and not by the clock. This helped him gain weight so quickly that after a couple of months, a paediatric intern told me "your baby is putting on too much weight; you should feed him less"! The mother in me declared him an amateur immediately! This rule has always worked for me. In fact, now that my son is a toddler I still follow the feed on demand rule.
3) Administering skin to skin contact to my child through cuddling and babywearing
One can never overstate the impact of love on a baby's health and development. And what better way of expressing your love! A mother's loving touch and contact builds immunity in the baby, promotes breastfeeding, has a calming effect on both mother and the baby, and also aids development.
Babywearing is also a great way of ensuring skin to skin contact even when you get busy with mundane daily chores. Just remember to use a good quality carrier/slings and observe necessary precautions as instructed.
4) Giving him a baby massage myself instead of taking help from a maalishwali
I was told by the doctor to give the baby a massage by myself. But I did not pay heed to this, somehow, and appointed a maalsishwali. But very soon, she came back to tell me that my baby cried too much and that she could not handle him! That day, I started learning massage techniques from various resources on the internet and began to do his oil massage myself. I soon found out the reason behind my doctor's suggestion. It couldn't have been better than this...
The massage transmitted my loving touch to my baby. We spent time smiling instead of crying. The massage also helped improve his digestion. End result: he gained weight!
5) Not letting my stress and anxiety get passed on to my baby
Finally, one of the best pieces of advice I received from my doctor was to not panic about my baby's weight. And the reason for this was more than just my mental well-being. It seems that a mother's stress generally passes on to the baby, thus impeding his development! Babies are very sensitive to these cues, and if the mother is stressed out, they become anxious too. The best thing to do is just visit the doctor regularly for a weight check up. In case your baby needs additional supplements your doctor will add them to his diet.
These tips helped my baby tremendously. By the grace of God, even though his birth weight had been very low, he started showcasing an upwards trend in weight gain soon after. So much so that after just a few months of his birth, this is what my doctor said to us: "This boy is true Punjabi blood! He has become so strong and healthy."
And trust me, that day, the mother in me was delighted beyond words.
So, take heart, moms. With your encouragement, motherly love and expert
assistance, your little ones will also be able to gain weight and become
hale and hearty!
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