Cluster Feeding: Is That a Thing?

By Agnes Mayer

March 14, 2019

I am a Mama to an amazing boy, married and have been an RN for over 15 years.

Cluster feeding can be very frustrating for new Mamas. You begin to wonder if something is wrong with you, your supply, your baby, or why he/she just doesn’t seem satisfied after the feeds. There is nothing wrong with you or your baby, Mama. This is a normal development stage for your baby.

Around 20 hours old or on the second night, you will notice your baby will feed, and then you’ll put them in the bassinet or just hold them, and then 15 mins later, he/she is rooting again for the breast. This can continue for the entire night. You literally feel like you’ve done nothing but feed the baby all night. The end is near as babies will do this for a few hours, even 5-6 hrs, and then stop and have a nice long sleep.

The reason your baby is doing this, is not to torture you, although it feels that way, but because they are trying to bring your milk in. The way that breast milk production works is very similar to that of the economy: the more the demand, the more the supply. The more your baby is on the breast, stimulating the milk ducts, telling your brain that your body needs to make milk, the more your body will make milk.

Cluster feeding is not limited to newborns. It will happen around your baby’s growth spurts: 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months. Any time your baby is going through a growth spurt, you may notice that they want to feed more often, so as hard as it is for an already exhausted Mama, increasing the feeds will help satiate your baby.

Remember this will not last forever. They will usually cluster feed for 5-6 hrs and then sleep for longer. Once they’ve finished cluster feeding, your job, Mama, is to also sleep. When you’re in the hospital, you need to make sure that you limit your visitors. Also when you’re at home, make sure that you rest as much as possible when baby rests.

Something to keep in mind is until you have established breastfeeding, I would hold off on introducing a soother. The reason is that you don’t want to miss your baby’s feeding cues. If they have a soother in their mouth, you won’t notice the cues for feeding. Once you’ve established breastfeeding and if you want to, then that would be an appropriate time to introduce a soother. Initially, you want to make sure you feed your baby when he/she is hungry, especially when they are cluster feeding.

It can be very hard to feed throughout the night, because you are exhausted. However, it is very important that you feed your baby during the night, as your milk production is the highest at night. Hence why cluster feeding coincides with night time. It’s to work with your body to help increase your milk production.

Remember Mamas, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out for help. You can contact your local Mama Coach or we also provide Virtual Support, if there isn’t a Mama Coach in your area.

Breastfeeding can be very challenging Mamas and you don’t have to struggle alone.

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