Ah, cluster feeding – that thing no one warns you about in antenatal class. It’s the thing you discover for yourself at 2 am when you’re frantically searching the internet as to why the hell your baby hasn’t come off the boob ALL NIGHT LONG. And then when you bring it up in your breastfeeding support group everyone says that “it’s totally normal behaviour!”. Ahem, really?!
Cluster feeding, what is it?
In the very early days of breastfeeding, feeding sessions can sometimes feel relentless and you may begin to wonder what you signed up for! Sometimes you may feel your baby has only just stopped feeding when they cry out for just a short time later. This is what’s known as cluster feeding. Basically it happens when your baby is going through a very hungry phase, growing like a weed and looking for constant nourishment (and comfort from you).
In the very early days of breastfeeding, feeding sessions can sometimes feel relentless and you may begin to wonder what you signed up for!
For many women cluster feeding tends to strike in the evening time, with baby keen to feed all evening and through the night. This behaviour can last for a few days or even a few weeks – making for some very tired mamas!
- What you’re experiencing: Constant feeding sessions where baby seems to be attached to the breast non-stop, particularly during the night
- What can cause it: A growth spurt in baby. Nature’s way of increasing your milk supply!
- What you can do to manage: Eat and drink plenty to keep your energy up during frequent feeding sessions.
49% of breastfeeding mamas find cluster feeding a challenge
When boobingit surveyed 100 women about the challenges they faced when breastfeeding, 49% of breastfeeding mamas reported it was a challenge they faced in their breastfeeding journey. Whilst cluster feeding is actually a perfectly normal behaviour for newborns, it can knock breastfeeding mamas off their feet!
But know that it doesn’t last and find comfort in the fact that all this feeding is doing wonders for your milk supply. Just make sure to eat and drink plenty during this time in order to keep your energy up. Now’s also the time to binge watch that show you’ve heard such good things about!
7 tips on how to cope during constant feeding sessions
Cluster feeding can happen in bouts of a few days or weeks, but rest assured it won’t last forever! Here are some tips to get you through those long feeding sessions.
1. Trust that your baby needs your milk and don’t worry that there is something wrong or that you may be over-feeding them.
2. Make sure you have somewhere really comfortable and relaxing to feed baby as those lengthy feeding sessions can mean you are sitting/lying down for long periods of time.
3. Keep your energy levels up by eating and drinking plenty throughout the day (and night!). This is not the time to limit your calorie intake or go long periods without food.
4. Have a little breastfeeding box beside you to keep snacks, your phone, nappies etc so you have everything close to hand when you want it.
5. Take the opportunity to catch up on some tv, read a book, listen to a podcast, or message your nearest and dearest.
6. Don’t be afraid to have a cry when it all gets too much because we know how emotionally and physically demanding cluster feeding can be on mamas.
7. Tell yourself it won’t last forever and that this is the excuse you need to sit down and rest with your baby.
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