Friday, 20 November 2009

Weighty Issues

Earlier this week I had to visit the health visitor and the vet within the space of an hour. Both appointments followed a remarkably similar pattern and included my baby and the cat (Iggy) being weighed. Both, it seems, are doing fine.

So Gilbert is a healthy baby boy, hovering around the '75th percentile' and staying nicely on his curve. This apparently means that although he is above average weight we don't need to worry about anything. He is 16 weeks old now, and the contrast between this and his sister could not be marked.

She was born nearly two and a half pounds lighter, nearly two and a half years ago. The pregnancies were very similar (though I was much sicker second time around) and I put on approximately the same amount of weight during each. I have breastfed both, introducing a single bottle of formula at around the 14 week mark.

But first time round the health professionals would not leave me alone. Gertie remained on the '4th percentile' and they insisted that she was weighed weekly. I was constantly made to feel inadequate for the slow rate at which she gained her weight, and felt incredible pressure to stop breast-feeding in order to ensure that she got all that she needed.

In fact I did not do this but carried on feeding her myself until she was nearly 16 months, although I worried about her continuously for the first six months until she was also taking on some solids.

She remains around average height, but slightly below average weight, so a slim build. She has been very healthy during her short life so far, and I know that by the time she is in her teens she will thank me for her slender frame, and that all the anxiety will have been needless.

I have done nothing differently for the new baby: my diet is the same as it always was, he feeds a similar amount. And yet I am praised for his 'bonny' development. I have done nothing, as far as I can see, to influence this. And so it makes me a little bit cross. I have come to the conclusion that babies are just the size they are, and a new mum should not be made to feel terrible (and certainly not consider giving up breast-feeding) because they don't conform to a silly chart.

And the irony of the whole story really lies with the cat, I think: the vet was delighted with her condition and her weight.

"You're obviously doing a wonderful job of looking after her. She's in a tip-top state for her age."

Hmm. Right. I didn't bother to explain that Iggy rarely puts in an appearance at home during the summer; Though her food and water bowls go down and get refilled with regularity, her ladyship is entirely elusive. We occasionally catch the odd glimpse and are lucky if we manage to find her to flea her. I have no idea where she sleeps between April and October. But as soon as the weather turns cold and wet she plants herself in front of the fire and doesn't move from our hearth until March.

So she has only been back being 'looked after' for about a fortnight. Lucky, really, that we're doing such a good job...


  1. Growth charts freak me out. If I go off the percentiles, K will grow up to be a chubby 6 footer with a pin head - how attractive!

    Iggy looks very content so you must be doing something right.

  2. Don't even get me started on head circumference - there is 7cm difference between Gilby and his sister!

  3. As far as I'm concerned the growth charts are bunkum - I've been hassled about my babies being too small and then too big - just turned out they grew at a different rate from the 'average'

    Award for you over at mine !

  4. Well done for sticking to breast feeding! It's so stupid that mothers are made to worry about being inadequate when the baby is perfectly healthy - and head circumference, kuh! FP's head was 'too small' at one point. WhatEver!!!

  5. The centile charts are a load of tosh. Little Miss A has always been small but consistent on the 2nd percentile, yet she was born three ounces heavier than my eldest who was always on the 50th centile. Both my children are healthy and happy so healthy visitors can stay out of it (not that any did interfere mind)