Cluster F...

Cluster Feeding.
(what did you think I was going to say?)
Originally Posted: 12/09/2013

I did not know much about this special thing until recently.

Cluster feeding (as explained by KellyMom is:

Cluster feeding, also called bunch feeding, is when babies space feeding closer together at certain times of the day and go longer between feedings at other times. This is very common, and often occurs in the evenings. It’s often -but not always- followed by a longer sleep period than usual: baby may be “tanking up” before a long sleep. For example, your baby may nurse every hour (or even constantly) between 6 and 10 PM, then have a longish stretch of sleep at night – baby may even sleep all night.
Cluster feeding often coincides with your baby’s fussy time. Baby will nurse a few minutes, pull off, fuss/cry, nurse a few minutes, pull off, fuss/cry… on and on… for hours. This can be VERY frustrating, and mom starts wondering if baby is getting enough milk, if something she is eating is bothering baby, if EVERYTHING she is doing is bothering baby… It can really ruin your confidence, particularly if there is someone else around asking the same questions (your mother, your husband, your mother-in-law).
Last night, Keira fed from around 5:30 to 11:30, with no more than 10 minute breaks for mom. I quickly ran to the bathroom and scarfed down dinner while Mike and my SIL, Molly, tried to console Keira while she cried until I returned (with her food!)

At around hour 5.5, I sat in bed crying and reading articles on "how to survive cluster feeding". There's no way to explain or prepare for how insane you start feeling when there is a baby attached to you for 6 hours straight. Eating dinner is no longer feasible and guests who visit in the evenings will only get to see my nursing cover:

KellyMom continues to explain that:
This behavior is NORMAL! It has nothing to do with your breastmilk or your mothering. If baby is happy the rest of the day, and baby doesn’t seem to be in pain (as with colic) during the fussy time – just keep trying to soothe your baby and don’t beat yourself up about the cause. Let baby nurse as long and as often as he will. Recruit dad (or another helper) to bring you food/drink and fetch things (book/remote/phone/etc.) while you are nursing and holding baby.

Does this mean that baby needs more milk than I can provide?

No. Don’t give baby a bottle — supplementation will only tell your body that you need LESS milk at this time, and that will not help matters. Also, keep in mind that formula fed babies experience fussy periods in the evening, too — fussy evenings are common for all young babies, no matter how they are fed. 
So it's all normal and we know she is getting plenty of food, so I just have to survive it! I started attending Breastfeeding Support Group and that helps to just talk it out. For you future mommies out there, remember that breast is best and it will get frustrating but remember that there is all sorts of support out there. For now, I will keep reminding myself!

1 comment:

  1. Big hugs to you and Keira! It gets so much easier. Some parts of breastfeeding are so hard. I remember crying with Jack because i didn't think we'd manage it. Now I'm just so glad that we did. You're doing great.



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