At least that’s how I felt recently when I left my pediatricians office. At Scarlett’s 7 month checkup I was told she was underweight based on a growth chart and that doctors were “concerned”. Being a new mom, I wasn’t too familiar w/these ‘growth charts’, I just know that leaving the doctor’s office that day I was almost in tears.
Was I the worst mom ever? Was my baby starving? Have I run out of milk?
It didn’t help that when I talked to a few family members about it I got comments and questions like…
“Leave her with us for a week, we will fatten her up”, “Are you trying to limit what she eats?” “Give her some formula and that will help.”
Really? As if I was not capable of taking care of my own child, or I was purposely putting my baby on a diet. NO! Scarlett was 6lbz 14oz at birth, has been exclusively breast fed since she was born and was eating solids at least 3, sometimes 4 times a day. The thoughts of being an inadequate mom settled in and the minute I got home I pumped to check milk supply, which was more than abundant.
The more I looked into it, I quickly learned that I was not the only mom who was being hasseled by family and doctors about this. With so many children today facing the problem of childhood obesity and juvenile diabetes, why on earth is my small baby a problem? I am a petite woman, 5’5 height and her dad is not the tallest or biggest person so why should my baby be? She is happy and developing normally, doctors say she is “thriving”, oh but she’s too skinny. I started wondering about these growth charts and decided to do some research.
According to a few articles I read, these original charts were based off of data gathered around the 1970’s on white, male, formula fed babies. The charts were updated in 2002 to include breast fed babies and other ethnic groups but some research says that the average baby is still “lighter” than what these charts would have you believe. To me it just seems like common sense, that a chart used to measure the growth of all babies around the U.S. would lead to a little bit of inaccuracies in some. I also found information that suggests breast fed babies are naturally thinner because of their built-in hunger cues that tells them to stop nursing when they are full.
I also came across several articles that said overfeeding a healthy baby can lead to health problems later on in life, including obesity, and can interfere with their natural ability to recognize when they are full and to stop eating.
Being told that your baby is underweight is probably not the best thing to tell a new mom. Thoughts of inadequacies go through your head, like you’re not doing something right. Many moms quit breastfeeding and supplement with formula because of this.
Have you had any experiences with this and been told your little one was underweight? How did it make you feel, and how did you handle?
You can also check out my article on Increasing your Breast Milk Supply Naturally