How often do breastfed babies cluster feed
What Is Cluster Feeding & How Long Will It Last
Cluster feeding is a normal newborn feeding behavior, but it can cause parents a load of stress and anxiety. Here’s what you need to know to cope.
How often does a breastfed baby need to feed?
Is it every two hours? Three hours? How about overnight?
Here’s a straightforward answer: Constantly.
Okay, so that’s not the case, but that’s what it can feel like for parents caring for a breastfeeding baby who’s in the middle of cluster feeding.
Our sympathies go out to parents who are smack in the middle of cluster feedings. Cluster feeding has lots of causes, but we can reassure you of one thing: You’ll get through this. In the meantime, here’s a breakdown of what’s going on with your baby.
What is cluster feeding?
If your baby feels like they are constantly feeding during a particular time of the day, you might be in the middle of a cluster feed.
Newborn babies already need to eat frequently — usually every 2-3 hours, although sometimes more depending on their needs and your milk supply. But cluster feeding looks — and feels — differently than your regular nursing sessions.
The most straightforward way to understand cluster feedings is that your baby is simply bunching a lot of feedings together in a short time frame. Instead of one meal every few hours, your baby is snacking — a lot!
But cluster feeding is more than just feeding a lot. A baby who is cluster feeding will feed for short periods before unlatching, fussing, nursing more, maybe hiccuping or burping — and so that pattern continues.
If you’ve noticed that your baby is especially attached to you — literally — in the later afternoon and evening, that’s also part of cluster feeding. Staying close to their milk source during this time is imperative for a cluster-feeding babe!
Why do cluster feeds happen?
If you’re in the middle of cluster feeding your baby, you’re probably wondering, “Why on earth is my baby feeding so much?!” (And, maybe, “When will this end?”)
First of all, some babies are simply cluster feeders — they may do it every day, especially when they are very young.
For newborns, one of the benefits of cluster feeding is its positive impact on milk production. The more a baby nurses, the more you produce.
Milk flow is slower at night.
Your primary milk production hormone is prolactin. Prolactin levels tend to be highest in the middle of the night and early morning hours — that’s why waking to feed or pump during your baby’s early weeks is so important for establishing your supply.
The flipside of this is that prolactin levels gradually lower throughout the day. By late afternoon and early evening, your prolactin levels may have lowered enough to slow your milk production.
Because of this, babies need to nurse longer or more often to fill up their tanks.
Another factor? Cluster feeding babies may also drink more to prepare for long stretches of sleeping and growing overnight.
A growth spurt or developmental leap is in the works.
Seeing your baby grow and learn new skills is a delight for parents, but it’s a big job for your baby. And a big job requires a lot of energy.
Your baby will go through numerous growth spurts and developmental leaps during the first year of life. This is true for all babies, regardless of how they are fed. The most common periods happen around 2-3 weeks, 6 weeks, 8 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months.
Remember, though, growth and development can happen at any time — there’s no one-size-fits-all pattern for how your baby will develop.
Nursing is soothing for your baby.
Being a baby is tough work — truly! Your baby’s brain and body are rapidly developing, all while figuring out the world around them. (See above.) What’s more, babies often need help learning how to relax and soothe themselves.
That’s one of the beauties of breast milk. Breast milk is full of hormones that support your baby’s circadian rhythm. For some babies, cluster feeding is a helpful way to boost sleepy, relaxing, restful hormones.
Your baby is teething or sick
Holding and snuggling your baby is certainly comforting, but that alone may not do the trick if your baby isn’t feeling well.
Many babies cluster feed when they’re dealing with a cold or virus — and it makes sense! Your breast milk helps your baby’s immune system fight off illness. What’s more, breastfeeding can help reduce your baby’s pain thanks to the analgesic effects of breast milk.
Interestingly, skin-to-skin contact also can provide pain relief benefits for your baby, which correlates with your baby’s strong desire to be attached to you during cluster feeds.
Cluster feeding and your milk supply
While cluster feeding can be tiring, it can provide a boost to your milk supply if you nurse on demand during this time.
Your milk supply is tailored to your baby’s nutritional demands — precisely tailored to it. So when your baby has a growth spurt or is fighting a cold, cluster feeding can boost your supply to provide enough breast milk for your baby or provide your baby with the antibodies they need to fight off their illness.
How long do babies cluster feed?
We know that at 8 pm, after nursing for 3 hours straight, it feels like it may last forever. But we promise — it will not. It absolutely will not last forever.
Usually, cluster feeding resolves within 2-3 days after starting. Also, a few helpful things to remember when cluster feeding is feeling endless:
- Cluster feeding occurs around developmental milestones — your baby’s body is doing important things!
- Over time, your baby will nurse less often, especially as they start consuming more and more solids.
Tips and tricks for managing cluster feeding
1. Keep nursing
We know that you might be tired and frustrated, but it’s important to keep nursing through cluster feedings as much as possible. Your baby’s nursing is helping your supply grow to meet the demands of growth and development.
2. Stay well hydrated and well-fed.
Breastfeeding is thirsty and hungry work. Depending on your milk output, metabolism, and other factors, breastfeeding can burn an additional 300-500 calories a day. Plus, it requires a lot of water to keep producing that milk.
And as far as water goes? The Institute of Medicine advises that breastfeeding parents drink 13 cups of water daily.
However, chugging Big Gulps isn’t necessary. Simply pay close attention to your level of thirst — and when you feel thirsty, drink!
3. Find support and community
Cluster feeding is challenging and can feel endless. (Though it will end, we promise!) But in the meantime, having help will make a massive difference.
Things you can do?
- Create a cluster feeding plan with your partner so you can make evenings more manageable.
- Call on friends for support with meals, chores, and help with older children.
- Connect with other breastfeeding parents through La Leche League, the Latch Lounge, or other breastfeeding communities — it helps to know you’re not alone!
4. Make yourself comfortable
Are you breastfeeding for hours? It can become pretty uncomfortable. Your nipples might be sore. Your arms might ache from holding your baby nonstop. You might feel restless from sitting in the same position.
A few tweaks, though, can make a big difference. Many parents find the side-lying or laid-back positions to be more comfortable if you have to settle in for a long stretch of nursing. Or simply try switching up positions!
Another option is to try babywearing. Babywearing can free you up to move around, which can offer you a much-needed change of pace during the long stretches of nursing. And if you master the art of nursing your baby in a sling or carrier, you’ve got even more options!
(But also, don’t pressure yourself! Not all babies or parents love babywearing, so please choose what feels right to you!)
5. Take care of your nipples!
Make sure you take care of your nipples during cluster feeds, as well. Applying nipple butter, lanolin, or even breast milk can help soothe your nipples. Hydrogel pads can also offer relief. Additionally, make sure to air dry your nipples after nursing and choose soft bras and clothing to avoid friction.
And if you use nursing pads? Make sure to change them regularly to avoid the risk of bacterial or fungal infections, especially thrush.
If you are experiencing ongoing nipple pain, please reach out to an IBCLC! Cluster feeding is hard, but it shouldn’t hurt. Pain can indicate issues with latching, which can lead to problems with milk supply, clogged ducts, mastitis, and more. However, it’s entirely fixable with help from an experienced lactation consultant.
6. Make time for yourself
Just like you need to take care of your nipples, you also need to care for yourself. Infant care is a big job, and it’s downright exhausting when you add cluster feeding on top of that.
So find things that can bring you — yes, YOU! — a bit of joy right now. Is it downloading a new book by a favorite author to read while nursing? Rewatching Virgin River for the 10th time?
Accepting help so you can take a quiet walk by yourself? Taking a few minutes to paint your toenails for the first time since you got pregnant? Making a pot of fresh coffee instead of reheating the old stuff?
There are all kinds of ways — both big and small — to make time for yourself. Make sure you do something that brings happiness to your heart!
7. Talk to an IBCLC
Finally, the bit of advice we always offer to parents no matter what kind of breastfeeding situation they’re dealing with: Talk to an IBCLC! IBCLCs can provide invaluable support to parents looking for ways to make breastfeeding work for them and their babies. Never be shy about reaching out!
Your journey, our support
Cluster feeding is tough, but you don’t have to navigate it on your own. Book a convenient online video appointment with a Nest Collaborative IBCLC today.
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What You Should Know About Cluster Feeding
Written by WebMD Editorial Contributors
Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on March 11, 2021
In this Article
- How to Know It’s Cluster Feeding
- Causes of Cluster Feeding
- When Is Cluster Feeding Not Considered Normal?
- How to Deal With Cluster Feeding
- Benefits of Cluster Feeding
- Challenges of Cluster Feeding
When infants get to a certain age they may begin to want to breastfeed more frequently than usual. Often, the length of the feedings will decrease as the frequency increases. While this is normal, it can be concerning or confusing to new parents.
Breast or bottle feeding that happens frequently and isn’t necessarily due to hunger is referred to as cluster feeding.
How to Know It’s Cluster Feeding
It's normal for babies to cluster feed. It is especially common during the early days of breastfeeding. Cluster feeding is more common in the late afternoon or early evening, but it can happen at any time of the day.
Cluster feeding usually happens between three weeks to six weeks after birth. During this period, your baby experiences growth spurts. As a result, they may require more milk than usual. Throughout these times, it's important to make sure you provide enough milk to keep your baby full.
You should consider it normal for your baby to cluster feed if you notice the following:
- Your baby is gaining reasonable weight.
- The process occurs during a limited time, like 3-4 hours a day.
- Your baby is having a lot of dirty and wet diapers.
- The process occurs after birth when you have an adequate milk supply.
- Your baby has short rests or sleeps between these feedings.
- Your baby feeds for a few minutes then pulls off and on the breast.
- Your baby cries and is fussy during this time.
If you are concerned that your milk supply is inadequate for your baby’s needs, talk to your pediatrician.
Causes of Cluster Feeding
Some babies do not cluster feed at all. The following are reasons why your baby could be cluster feeding:
Your baby is undergoing a growth spurt. If your baby is at a stage where they are experiencing a growth spurt, they will naturally need more nourishment. During these times, your baby may want to nurse every 30 minutes to an hour. In the first month alone, growth spurts can happen every few days or even weekly.
These growth spurts typically happen when your baby is around two to three weeks, six weeks, three months, and six months old. However, your baby's growth spurts may not happen at these exact times as every baby is different. Growth spurts usually last a few days.
Developmental milestone. Your baby may be undergoing a developmental milestone during the first six months. When your child experiences physical and psychological changes, they may need nutrition. The process can cause your baby to cluster feed.
When Is Cluster Feeding Not Considered Normal?
There are times when your baby may frequently breastfeed to the point that you need to involve your pediatrician. Such instances include:
- Your baby breastfeeds non-stop.
- Your baby cries unless they are breastfeeding and continues to show signs of hunger.
- Your baby appears jaundiced (yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes), becomes lethargic (appearing tired and dull), or has tremors after long periods of non-stop nursing.
- Your baby is not gaining weight.
- Your baby is not producing wet and dirty diapers.
How to Deal With Cluster Feeding
Cluster feeding doesn't mean you don't have enough milk. However, some parents are concerned that they may not be producing enough milk for their baby during cluster feeding episodes. If you are in such a situation, be sure to:
- Stay hydrated.
- Find a breastfeeding partner to bring you drinks and snacks and keep you entertained during the cluster-feeding episodes.
- Stay prepared for your baby’s needs.
- Do not miss your meals.
- Relax, get comfortable, and follow your baby’s lead.
- Know when your baby is hungry.
When your baby is full but can’t seem to stop craving more, you may use non-nutritive sucking to soothe them. For instance, using a pacifier instead of breastfeeding your baby every 30 minutes will save you and your baby lots of fussiness and time.
Benefits of Cluster Feeding
Some of the advantages of cluster feeding include:
- Providing your baby the nourishment they need to grow
- Helping to soothe your baby
- Ensuring your baby gets enough sleep after a satisfying nursing session
- Providing comfort, security, and reassurance that sustain your baby's emotional needs
- Boosting your milk supply to fit the needs of your baby
Challenges of Cluster Feeding
Cluster feeding can make you feel emotionally and physically drained. Studies show that many parents may experience frustration or fatigue from cluster feeding. Some lose confidence in their ability to breastfeed.
You may become worried that you aren't producing enough milk, especially if your baby takes a long time to settle when nursing or your breasts feel empty. Another challenge of cluster feeding is the sleep deprivation that comes about when your baby wakes up frequently to nurse.
During periods of cluster feeding, parents may find it helpful to talk with a lactation consultant or pediatrician. Your doctor may also recommend additional ways to care for your nursing baby.
The child began to breastfeed more often. This is fine?
This is the period in a baby's life when he begins to breastfeed more often. For example, if yesterday your child ate an average of once every two hours, and today he requires a breast every half an hour or an hour, we are talking about cluster or group feeding. This is a temporary change in the feeding regime, however, parents are unlikely to be happy with such changes and may think that they are doing something wrong. We hasten to reassure you: cluster feeding is normal.
This usually happens within the first 28 days of a child's life. As David Hill, Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, says, the first "attack" of cluster feeding usually occurs on the 10-12th day of life, and then repeats in the region of three months. But in general, cluster feedings are typical for the entire first half of a baby's life.
Most often, cluster feedings occur in the late afternoon, when the baby is tired of external stimuli and wants to calm down and fall asleep. Cluster feedings often accompany growth and developmental spurts. Sometimes they can last all day.
The first weeks and months of a baby's life are a difficult time for him, because he is constantly growing and developing, accepting new conditions of life outside the womb, adapting to the outside world. To do this, he needs not only to get food regularly, but also to calm down, because this big world is such a complicated thing.
Sucking and being at the mother's breast is a natural need for the baby, so he uses cluster feedings not only to eat, but also to get close contact with the mother. So don't get mad at him, he really needs it. And do not listen to those who say that "that way he will make a dummy out of you." Won't. Listen to yourself and the child, you are doing everything right.
The good news is that there is evidence that this behavior in a child precedes longer sleep (we're talking about four to five hours). Why, it's a whole chasm of uninterrupted sleep when you have a newborn!
Yes, indeed, cluster feedings can exhaust a mother. But, as the same Hill says, they are important for her, especially if they occur at the initial stage of motherhood. The fact is that by frequent application, the baby stimulates the production of milk, thus helping the mother to quickly establish full lactation.
Of course, the baby needs maternal care and warmth, skin-to-skin contact, but you should not forget about yourself during this exhausting period of group feeding! More precisely, it is strictly forbidden, otherwise you risk bringing yourself to emotional exhaustion. Here's what can be done.
Don't blame yourself or your child. He is all right, all babies have such days, and you are doing everything right - offering him what he needs most now.
Do not forget to drink and eat , because your body is now intensively establishing lactation, which means it consumes a large amount of energy. Eat well and don't limit yourself to kuro-buckwheat.
Sleep between feeds . Facebook and Instagram can wait. Especially if cluster feedings caught you at night, and the baby wakes up every hour. Yes, it will seem to you that it is easier not to sleep at all than to spend time on short sleep sessions, but this is not so.
Connect partner . Yes, you may think that this is rather pointless, because he does not have breasts with milk. But he can carry the baby in his arms while you drink tea or spend time in the shower - during this period it is important to give yourself a little respite.
Don't listen to the "experts" . You will definitely be advised to put the child down and "let him scream" or do something else so that "God forbid, spoil him." But you shouldn't do that. We now know more about children and their needs than ever before. So: cluster feedings will not spoil your baby. He really needs them. In any case, more than senseless motion sickness, attempts to distract and hiss are more necessary.
It is believed that one episode of grouped feedings should not exceed two days, and the application itself should not exceed an hour. If the baby “hangs” on the chest for an hour and this has been happening for two days, you need to contact a lactation consultant or a pediatrician you trust.
We asked Daria Utkina, a doula and mother-and-child care consultant, to talk about cluster feeding.
Not all babies go through this period, but most do. It seems to me that knowing in itself that this is a physiological norm, and not an epic fail in becoming a milk fairy, already gives a lot of peace of mind. Often women worry that the reason for cluster feedings is the notorious “not enough milk”, although the child has just enough of everything.
Speaking of support, it's very cool when there are people nearby who also know that cluster feeding is a variant of the norm and you don't have to fight with it. Because even a confident and informed mother will be disturbed by the constant background anxiety of relatives. And if this is the first baby and everything is still completely new, then any comments on the topic “something is not working out for you”, “something is wrong with the child” will fall into the most vulnerable point.
Evening time can also be planned in advance, taking into account the baby hanging on the chest. Arrange with a partner to come to the beginning of vigils, call a postpartum doula or a friend / mother / anyone to be around.
On the contrary, it helps some women to break the stereotype about crazy evenings at home, pack the baby in a sling where he can feed non-stop, and go out into the world.
Well, adjust expectations all the time. Cluster feedings become a problem when the idea sits in your head that a baby usually eats at least once an hour, or even every three hours. And when everything happens differently, it makes you reconsider your ideas not only about babies, but also about your life with them.
Many of my clients find it helpful to remind themselves of "one thing a day." Especially for those who are accustomed to work tirelessly and assumed that while the baby was sleeping and eating, it would be possible to continue almost in the same rhythm.
Plus, sometimes it happens that cluster feedings are just situations where a child for some reason (inefficient attachment, a short bridle, for example) has to be on the breast all the time to get the right amount of milk. In this case, it would be good to call a consultant on breastfeeding and find out what is the reason.
During cluster feedings, the mother has a huge responsibility and may feel overwhelmed, exhausted and frustrated. Obviously, dads can't offer to help feed their baby, but there are some important ways they can help moms.
Get up with your mother. This is really important, she will not feel so lonely if the partner tries to cheer her up during feeding (and at the same time not fall asleep next to her).
Bathe, walk, entertain the child (and also his brothers and sisters). Cluster feeding will be much easier for mom if she can focus only on this.
Take on household chores. Clutter in the house is unlikely to help you stay calm. Conversely, if household chores are in order, mom will be less anxious on busy cluster feeding days.
No. What mother eats does not affect the amount of milk. There are no official lists of prohibited or permitted foods during feeding. If the mother or child does not have allergic reactions, then you can eat whatever you want, and even drink two small cups of coffee a day. We hope it's not cold!
Breastfeeding in the first month: what to expect
Not sure how to establish lactation and increase milk production? If you need help, support, or just want to know what to expect, read our first month breastfeeding advice
Share this information
The first weeks of breastfeeding are a very stressful period. If at times you feel like you can't handle it, know that you are not alone. Feeding your baby all day long is completely natural and helps produce breast milk, but can be quite tiring at times. Be patient, think about yourself and remember: after the first month, when milk production stabilizes, it will become easier.
How often should a baby be breastfed?
Babies are born with a small stomach that grows rapidly with increasing milk production: in the first week it is no larger than an apricot, and after two weeks it is already the size of a large chicken egg. 1.2 Let the child eat as much as he wants and when he wants. This will help him quickly regain the weight lost after birth and grow and develop further.
“Be prepared to feed every two to three hours throughout the day. At night, the intervals between feedings can be longer: three to four or even five hours, says Cathy Garbin, a recognized international expert on breastfeeding. Some eat quickly and are satiated in 15 minutes, while others take an entire hour to feed. Do not compare your breastfeeding regimen with that of other mothers - it is very likely that there will be nothing in common between them.
At each feed, give your baby a full meal from one breast and then offer a second one, but don't worry if the baby doesn't take it. When the baby is full, he lets go of his chest and at the same time looks relaxed and satisfied - so much so that he can immediately fall asleep. The next time you feed, start on the other breast. You can monitor the order of the mammary glands during feeding using a special application.
Why does the child always ask for a breast?
The first month is usually the hardest time to breastfeed. But do not think that because the baby is constantly hungry and asks for a breast almost every 45 minutes, then you do not have enough milk.
In the first month, the baby needs to eat frequently to start and stimulate the mother's milk production. It lays the foundation for a stable milk supply in the future. 3
In addition, we must not forget that the child needs almost constant contact with the mother. The bright light and noise of the surrounding world at first frighten the baby, and only by clinging to his mother, he can calm down.
Sarah, mother of three from the UK, confirms: “Crying is not always a sign of hunger. Sometimes my kids just wanted me to be around and begged for breasts to calm them down. Use a sling. Place the cradle next to the bed. Don't look at the clock. Take advantage of every opportunity to relax. Forget about cleaning. Let those around you take care of you. And not three days, but six weeks at least! Hug your baby, enjoy the comfort - and trust your body."
Do I need to feed my baby on a schedule?
Your baby is still too young for a strict daily routine, so
forget about breastfeeding schedules and focus on his needs.
“Volumes have been written about how to feed a baby on a schedule, but babies don't read or understand books,” says Cathy. - All children are different. Some people can eat on a schedule, but most can't. Most often, over time, the child develops his own schedule.
Some moms report that their babies are fine with scheduled feedings, but it's likely just the few babies who would eat every four hours anyway. Adults rarely eat and drink the same foods at the same time of day - so why do we expect this from toddlers?
Offer your baby the breast at the first sign of hunger. Crying is already the last stage, so be attentive to early signs: the baby licks his lips, opens his mouth, sucks his fist, turns his head with his mouth open - looking for the breast. 4
What is a “milk flush”?
At the beginning of each feed, a hungry baby actively sucks on the nipple,
thereby stimulating the milk flow reflex - the movement of milk through the milk ducts. 5
“Nipple stimulation triggers the release of the hormone oxytocin,” explains Cathy. “Oxytocin is distributed throughout the body and causes the muscles around the milk-producing glands to contract and the milk ducts to dilate. This stimulates the flow of milk.
If the flushing reflex fails, milk will not come out. This is a hormonal response, and under stress it may not work at all or work poorly. Therefore, it is so important that you feel comfortable and calm when feeding.
“Studies show that each mother has a different rhythm of hot flashes during one feed,” Kathy continues, “Oxytocin is a short-acting hormone, it breaks down in just 30-40 seconds after formation. Milk begins to flow, the baby eats, the effect of oxytocin ends, but then a new rush of milk occurs, the baby continues to suckle the breast, and this process is repeated cyclically. That is why, during feeding, the child periodically stops and rests - this is how nature intended.
The rush of milk may be accompanied by a strong sensation of movement or tingling in the chest, although 21% of mothers, according to surveys, do not feel anything at all. 5 Cathy explains: “Many women only feel the first rush of milk. If you do not feel hot flashes, do not worry: since the child eats normally, most likely, you simply do not understand that they are.
How do you know if a baby is getting enough milk?
Since it is impossible to track how much milk a baby eats while breastfeeding, mothers sometimes worry that the baby is malnourished. Trust your child and your body.
After a rush of milk, the baby usually sucks more slowly. Some mothers clearly hear how the baby swallows, others do not notice it. But one way or another, the child himself will show when he is full - just watch carefully. Many babies make two or three approaches to the breast at one feeding. 6
“When a child has eaten, it is noticeable almost immediately: a kind of “milk intoxication” sets in. The baby is relaxed and makes it clear with his whole body that he is completely full, says Katie, “Diapers are another great way to assess whether the baby is getting enough milk. During this period, a breastfed baby should have at least five wet diapers a day and at least two portions of soft yellow stool, and often more.”
From one month until weaning at six months of age, a baby's stool (if exclusively breastfed) should look the same every day: yellow, grainy, loose, and watery.
When is the child's birth weight restored?
Most newborns lose weight in the first few days of life. This is normal and should not be cause for concern. As a rule, weight is reduced by 5-7%, although some may lose up to 10%. One way or another, by 10–14 days, almost all newborns regain their birth weight. In the first three to four months, the minimum expected weight gain is an average of 150 grams per week. But one week the child may gain weight faster, and the next slower, so it is necessary that the attending physician monitor the health and growth of the baby constantly. 7.8
At the slightest doubt or signs of dehydration, such as
dark urine, no stool for more than 24 hours, retraction of the fontanel (soft spot on the head), yellowing of the skin, drowsiness, lethargy, lack of appetite (ability to four to six hours without feeding), you should immediately consult a doctor. 7
What is "cluster feeding"?
When a baby asks for a breast very often for several hours, this is called cluster feeding. 6 The peak often occurs in the evening between 18:00 and 22:00, just when many babies are especially restless and need close contact with their mother. Most often, mothers complain about this in the period from two to nine weeks after childbirth. This is perfectly normal and common behavior as long as the baby is otherwise healthy, eating well, gaining weight normally, and appears content throughout the day. 9
Cluster feeding can be caused by a sharp jump in the development of the body - during this period the baby especially needs love, comfort and a sense of security. The growing brain of a child is so excited that it can be difficult for him to turn off, or it just scares the baby. 9 If a child is overworked, it is often difficult for him or her to calm down on his own and the help of adults is needed. And breastfeeding is the best way to calm the baby, because breast milk is not only food, but also pain reliever and a source of happiness hormones. 10
“Nobody told me about cluster feeding, so for the first 10 days I just went crazy with anxiety - I was sure that my milk was not enough for the baby,” recalls Camilla, a mother from Australia, “It was a very difficult period . I was advised to pump and supplement until I finally contacted the Australian Breastfeeding Association. There they explained to me what was happening: it turned out that it was not about milk at all.
Remember, this is temporary. Try to prepare dinner for yourself in the afternoon, when the baby is fast asleep, so that in the evening, when he begins to often breastfeed, you have the opportunity to quickly warm up the food and have a snack. If you are not alone, arrange to carry and rock the baby in turns so that you have the opportunity to rest. If you have no one to turn to for help and you feel that your strength is leaving you, put the baby in the crib and rest for a few minutes, and then pick it up again.
Ask your partner, family and friends to help you with household chores, cooking and caring for older children if you have any. If possible, hire an au pair. Get as much rest as possible, eat well and drink plenty of water.
“My daughter slept a lot during the day, but from 23:00 to 5:00 the cluster feeding period began, which was very tiring,” recalls Jenal, a mother from the USA, “My husband tried his best to make my life easier — he washed, cleaned, cooked, changed diapers, let me sleep at every opportunity and never tired of assuring me that we were doing well.
If you are concerned about the frequency of breastfeeding, it is worth contacting a specialist. “Check with a lactation consultant or doctor to see if this is indicative of any problems,” recommends Cathy. “Resist the temptation to supplement your baby with formula (unless recommended by your doctor) until you find the cause. It may not be a matter of limited milk production at all - it may be that the child is inefficiently sucking it.
When will breastfeeding become easier?
This early stage is very special and does not last long. Although sometimes it seems that there will be no end to it, rest assured: it will get easier soon! By the end of the first month, breast milk production will stabilize, and the baby will become stronger and learn to suckle better. 2.3 Any problems with latch on will most likely be resolved by this time, and the body will be able to produce milk more efficiently, so inflammation and leakage of milk will begin to subside.
“The first four to six weeks are the hardest, but then things start to get better,” Cathy assures. It just needs to be experienced!”
The longer breastfeeding continues, the more benefits it brings, from saving on formula and improving sleep quality 11-13 to boosting your baby's immune system 14 and reducing your risk of certain cancers. 15
“When you feel like you're on your limit, try to go from feed to feed and day to day,” says Hannah, a UK mom. “I was sure I wouldn’t make it to eight weeks. And now I have been breastfeeding for almost 17 weeks, and I dare say it is very easy.”
Read the resource Breastfeeding beyond the first month: what to expect
1 Naveed M et al. An autopsy study of relationship between perinatal stomach capacity and birth weight. Indian J Gastroenterol .1992;11(4):156-158. - Navid M. et al., Association between prenatal gastric volume and birth weight. Autopsy. Indian J Gastroenterol. 1992;11(4):156-158.
2 Neville MC et al. Studies in human lactation: milk volumes in lactating women during the onset of lactation and full lactation .Am J Clinl Nutr .1988;48(6):1375-1386. at the beginning and at the peak of lactation." Am F Clean Nutr. 1988;48(6):1375-1386.
3 Kent JC et al. Principles for maintaining or increasing breast milk production. J Obstet , Gynecol , & Neonatal Nurs 2012;41(1):114-121. - Kent J.S. et al., "Principles for Maintaining and Increasing Milk Production". J Obstet Ginecol Neoneutal Nurs. 2012;41(1):114-121.
4 Australian Breastfeeding Feeding cues ; 2017 Sep [ cited 2018 Feb ]. - Australian Breastfeeding Association [Internet], Feed Ready Signals; September 2017 [cited February 2018]
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7 Lawrence RA, Lawrence RM. Breastfeeding: A guide for the medical profession. 7th ed. Maryland Heights MO, USA: Elsevier Mosby; 2010. 1128 p . - Lawrence R.A., Lawrence R.M., "Breastfeeding: A guide for healthcare professionals." Seventh edition. Publisher Maryland Heights , Missouri, USA: Elsevier Mosby; 2010. P. 1128.
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