Newborn Weight Loss and IV fluids in labor

Until now, weight loss during the first 3 to 4 days after birth has been considered one indicator of how early breastfeeding is going.  If on Day 4 a newborn’s weight loss is in the average range of 5% to 7%, this usually means breastfeeding is going well.   Nearly all babies lose some weight after birth, because after floating in amniotic fluid for 9 months, they are born waterlogged.  Normal weight loss comes from the shedding of this excess fluid as they adjust to life on the drier outside.

But when babies lose more than 7% of birth weight during these early days, does this automatically mean they are not getting enough milk?  No, according to a recent study.

A greater weight loss may be completely unrelated to breastfeeding and due instead to excess IV fluids mothers receive within the final 2 hours before delivery.  According to this study, these excess IV fluids inflate babies’ birth weight in utero and act as a diuretic after birth.  Babies whose mothers received more IV fluids before birth urinated more during their first 24 hours and as a result lost more weight.  Number of wet diapers during the first 24 hours predicted infant weight loss.  This was true whether the babies were born vaginally or by c-section.  Another study published earlier this year had similar findings.

This weight loss has nothing whatsoever to do with breastfeeding and milk intake.  In fact, the authors suggest that if clinicians want to use weight loss as a gauge of milk intake, they calculate baby’s weight loss not from birth weight, but from their weight at 24 hours.  According to their findings, this could neutralize the effect of the mother’s IV fluids on newborn weight loss.

This is one more reason weight loss alone should not be used to determine when newborns need formula supplements.   The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine put this well in one of its protocols: “Weight loss in the range of 8-10% may be within normal limits….If all else is going well and the physical exam is normal, it is an indication for careful assessment and possible breastfeeding assistance.”

Labor-Inducing Smoothie


Pineapple Date Smoothie 

  • 8-12 pitted dates
  • 2-3 thick slices FRESH pineapple (with the core if you can get it). More if you want it.
  • 1-2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut – the finer it’s shredded the better – if you don’t love coconut, you can omit it. I just needed something to bridge the date/pineapple flavor.
  • vanilla almond milk to desired consistency
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup greek yogurt – you don’t need it, it just helps with a smoothie consistency vs. juice. I used plain, but any flavor you like would work.

Add to blender and pulse. The dates can get stuck in the blade, so you may want to blend those vigorously first before adding the other ingredients. I’ve also read that if you soak the dates in water for a while before blending, it helps avoid the chunks. I may try that next time.

Does it work? Well, I’m still typing this as I drink it, so I can’t guarantee an immediate kickstart. But, here’s the actual research that gives me some hope:

  • Dates. There’s actually “real” research out there to support this one (published by the National Institute for Health, not some hippie in the basement lab…though I do love hippies.).  In a 2007 study, women who consumed 6 dates a day for the 4 weeks prior to their delivery were admitted with higher dilation, & a significantly higher % had membranes intact. Also, 96% of those who ate dates went into labor spontaneously and averaged 6.5 hour shorter first stage of labor than those who didn’t eat dates. 6.5 hours less of labor? Sign me up.
  • Fresh pineapple contains bromelain, which acts like a prostaglandin and is thought to soften or “ripen” the cervix. Prostaglandin is the same hormone in human semen that supports the idea that sex can induce labor. I prefer the pineapple in a smoothie! The process of canning pineapple removes this hormone, so be sure to only use fresh. How much you need is a good question – I’ve read that you can’t get enough of it, and I’ve read that you need at least 7 pineapples for any impact. I’ve been trying to eat some daily for the past few weeks. Whether it brings on labor or not, it’s known to tone the uterus & cervix to make labor more pleasant. Yes please.
  • Cinnamon tea has been hailed to induce labor, but I really added it more for flavor. And I only used a dash, so I’m not expecting much from it. Maybe combined with the other things?
  • Almond milk…well, almond oil has been shown to bring on pre-term labor in mothers who rubbed it on their stomachs to prevent stretch marks prior to 37 weeks gestation. When used as a laxative, it can also bring on contractions resulting in premature labor. I doubt there’s enough pure oil in the almond milk to do the damage of castor oil, so I substituted it for regular dairy milk.
  • Coconut. Well, coconut oil is like magic & good for anything. And some people claim coconut water induces labor. You could use it in the recipe instead of the flakes. I used it for the flavor. Any action is a bonus.

So the “research” is a bit shaky, as with everything else on the interweb, right? But, I feel good about the mix of ingredients not doing any harm, which is more than I can say for some of the things I’ve read about & heard about. The ingredients are all good for me, natural, and are hopefully going to get things going down there and help to avoid a medical induction as we get further and further past the due date.