Cluster feeding is a pattern of breastfeeding when your baby tends to breastfeed very often for a certain time, usually in the evenings. Although your baby normally feeds 8 to 10 times a day, their feeds may be bunched together for a certain duration during the day.
Cluster feeding can be difficult to deal with, because it can exhaust you, confuse you, and you may be left wondering if something is wrong. These tips may help you get through the confusion and frustration you experience:
1. Take care of yourself
Breastfeeding can be quite exhausting, and more so when your baby wants to feed more and more often. It may feel like the breastfeeding never ends for a few days, but know that it will pass. Although you might have very little time for yourself as a new mom, make sure you use that time to take care of yourself - eat a nourishing diet, drink enough water and fluids, and try to rest whenever you can. You will need the energy.
2. Hold or Swaddle Your Baby
Your baby too might get a little fussy due to their increased hunger. Try to keep them relaxed by holding them or swaddling them. The skin to skin contact also releases oxytocin and prolactin, which help you produce milk to meet your baby’s increased demands of breastfeeding.
3. Get Help
Don’t try to do this alone. Ask your spouse to help out. If you can afford it, get someone to help with household chores so that you can focus on taking care of your newborn during the first few months. Try to pump and store milk so that your husband can feed the baby when you are too tired to do so. It’s okay to take a break, and a good thing to share responsibility. You can also get help and advice from a lactation specialist or your doctor to know how you can handle it more confidently.
4. Care For Your Breasts
Breastfeeding can be painful when you’re still new to it. The problem can be with latching, positions or your skin, which may get dry and cracked. Make sure you spend a little time to take care of your breasts while nursing. Here’s a guide to taking care of your breasts while nursing.
5. Talk To Other Moms
Speak to other moms and share your experiences. It can give you a lot of support, and also help you get some tips and hacks from moms like yourself. They may also be able to guide you through your journey if you ask. Making mom friends is an important part of forming a nice support system for yourself as a new mom. Who knows, one day, all of you may sit and laugh about it while remembering the good old days.
Every mom and baby is unique. Your baby’s cluster feeding patterns may be as unique as your baby, but there will always be someone who can relate and therefore guide you. Try not to handle this journey alone. And remember - it will pass!