Things you need to know about cluster feeding

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Newborn cluster feeding

HOW TO HANDLE YOUR BABY’S CLUSTER FEEDING

You can be overwhelmed with dealing with all that comes with having a newborn and cluster feeding doesn’t make it any easier. You might be worried about why your baby is feeding more and being fussy and you haven’t been able to place a finger on the reason for her recent behavior. Don’t worry if your baby is not sick, losing weight and she is wetting six or more diapers a day. Your baby is likely to be cluster feeding.

What is cluster feeding?

Cluster feeding is when your baby breastfeeds several times often short feeds within a period usually in the evenings. Often this period of feeding is usually accompanied by fussiness and the feeding time is very short. She keeps coming back for more every other minute and it makes you begin to wonder if your milk isn’t sufficient for her or if your breast is empty. I remember being afraid that my baby would not have milk to feed on in the night when I was nursing my first baby. So I started managing how much he was sucking during his cluster feeding face. Whether you are a first-time mom or not, you don’t have to worry about your breast milk not being enough except you are not lactating well.

How long do babies cluster feed

Good news is that cluster feeding doesn’t last forever or for long. Cluster feeding in newborns ranges from two weeks to six weeks. Although some can cluster feed till three months. Babis who cluster feed do so usually from 4 pm to 10 pm. Some sleep earlier while some can run to 12 midnight. But some babies cluster in the morning and some cluster feed in the night.

Why do babies cluster feed?

Breastfeeding bonds mother and baby. Breastfeeding is an important phase for both baby and mother. At the early stage of their birth, babies are getting acquainted and attached to their mother and they are trying to build that bond. A baby might cluster feed because he wants to spend time with her mother and enjoy the bonding time.

Your baby may be having a growth spurt and maybe feeding more to meet the demands of his body. A growth spurt and all the energy his brain and body cells are taking to enable her to develop properly would make your baby hungrier and it is in everyone’s interest that she is properly breastfed.  

How does cluster feeding affect a mother?

You might have this feeling of inadequacy or that you are a failure because you think you are unable to meet the needs of your baby. You feel that the reason your baby sucking more frequently yet very shortly is that you are not producing enough milk.

You don’t have to be worried, cluster feeding is normal. Your body is in tune with your baby’s needs and produces what she needs. The breast is never completely empty of milk. You don’t have to beat yourself what you need to do is find ways to manage this cluster feeding phase.

What to do when your baby is cluster feeding

When you have established that your baby is cluster feeding and her routine, you should plan yourself around it. Cluster feeding can be tedious for the mother. Even though you like breastfeeding your baby no mother would like to be tied down with a fussy baby tied to her breast.

  • You should take your bath and place healthy snacks and drinks around you because the frequent feeding might make you hungry.
  • You would also want to make sure the diner is ready for the family before the time of your baby’s constant feeding begins.
  • You can make the food earlier in the day for your partner or whoever is around to assist in heating it up when they are ready to eat.
  • Get a comfortable position for you and your baby. A sling to keep her close, a comfortable chair to help you relax are good ideas.
  • When your baby is fussy you should rock her, sing to her or play her favourite songs for her. Playing my children’s favourite music for them always worked, it calmed them down to continue their feeding without constant cry or restlessness.
  • After feeding her you can hand her over to people around you to assist you with rocking her or holding her till when she wants to feed again

What you shouldn’t do when your baby is cluster feeding

  • Don’t give her bottle especially because you think your milk is not enough. Your body produces milk according to your baby’s demand. So supplementing with a feeding bottle is reducing the milk your body produces. The more your baby draws the milk or the more you express the more milk your body produces.
  • Do not give your baby drugs to induce sleep. I know cluster feeding can be tiring but inducing your baby to sleep in never an option. You can give your baby a hot or warm bath before her routine starts. This can settle her faster to sleep.

What you should do when your baby is fussy

  • You can try holding your baby close to you with a sling or carrier. This might calm her and also enable her nurse while your hands are free.
  • You can take your baby outside. A breath of fresh air might soothe her.
  • Try giving her a bath or a massage. This touch can soothe your baby and reduce or stop the fussiness.
  • Reduce noise around her, dim the night or any form of stimulation around your baby.
  • Play soft music
  • Hold her and rock her.
  • Check to see if she is interested in any hands holding her. The dad or older siblings can carry the baby.
  • Do not withhold milk from your baby. Allow her to nurse on the go
  • You can try different nursing positions. Like lying on your back and your baby on top, lying on the side, your babysitting and facing you.

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