As a new mom, you may still be getting used to breastfeeding, and might just be understanding your baby’s feeding pattern and needs. Breastfeeding is tricky, and you may have quite a few questions about it. This blog will shed some light on cluster feeding, so that you can understand it as well as cope with it better.
What Is Cluster Feeding?
Your baby will breastfeed quite often - around 8 to 10 times a day or once in 2 to 3 hours. But sometimes, during some duration of the day, they might feed all the more often. This doesn’t happen all day, but just during a few hours of the day, when the feeds are bunched closer together.
Every baby feeds differently, but most mothers notice that their baby’s cluster feeding usually occurs in the evening. It can be quite challenging and stressful for you, because breastfeeding is not simple to begin with, although it is very important for both mom and baby.
Why Is Your Baby Breastfeeding All The Time?
Cluster feeding can feel quite confusing, because it seems like your baby is constantly breastfeeding, and you may begin to ask if you need to produce more milk or whether something is going wrong. But lactation specialists and doctors say that this is pretty common and normal.
There could be different reasons for the occasional cluster feeding that every mom experiences with her little one. Here are some of them:
Your little one is growing at a very fast pace, due to which it is important to breastfeed often to support this growth. So by breastfeeding more often, your baby may be trying to boost your breast milk supply. Cluster feeding helps your little one fulfill their growth needs with the right nutrition. So if your baby is cluster feeding, it is probably a temporary habit that helps give them enough energy to support the growth spurt.
Preparing For Sleep
Babies also cluster feed in the evening because they are preparing to sleep for a long duration. Sure, your baby may never sleep through the night yet, but moms often notice that after cluster feeding, babies sleep for a longer stretch before awakening and asking for a feed. Sometimes, babies even fall asleep while breastfeeding.
Should I Worry About Low Milk Supply?
As your baby seems to keep feeding, you may wonder if your milk supply is insufficient for them. Just remember that cluster feeding every once in a while is normal for newborns, who are trying to feel comfortable as well as get enough energy for their rapidly growing bodies.
Don’t worry too much about low milk supply in this situation, because cluster feeding does not point to a low milk supply. It is how your baby is trying to boost your milk supply for their growth spurt.
When Should You Call Your Doctor?
Cluster feeding is normal for short periods during your baby’s milestones, growth spurts or teething periods, as well as when your baby is sick or tired.
But when you notice the following signs, you should consider consulting a lactation specialist and a pediatrician, to see if there are underlying issues:
- If the baby cries even right after being fed and looks for another breast after most feeds.
- If your baby is awake or sleepy all the time.
- If most of your feeding sessions last more than an hour.
- When your baby’s cluster feeding is combined with symptoms like vomiting.
Although cluster feeding can feel confusing, you should know that it is normal for babies to cluster feed for some durations during their growing years as their nutrient needs are fast increasing and they need to support their growth.
If you feel overwhelmed or confused, you can always speak to a lactation specialist for advice and to ensure that your little one is doing fine.