What is cluster feeding or bunch feeding?
Cluster feedings are apparent when a baby has periods when they continually breastfeed for up to three hours at a time. (It may be longer or shorter or several short feedings)
Sometimes a baby might fall asleep on the breast, refusing to let go and wanting to nurse more when waking. Your baby may be cranky, fussy, and extremely demanding during these times.
These nursing marathons are normal if your baby gains weight well and produces sufficient dirty/wet diapers.
Don't let anyone scare you into thinking that you are not producing enough milk. Many moms may hear comments like "Should she be eating again?" "Do you think she's getting enough?" This is enough to make any mother worry. Try to surround yourself with women who have successfully breastfed their babies. La Leche meetings are an excellent place to find this type of support. Alternatively, opt for a Milkology breastfeeding course and equip yourself with the comprehensive knowledge necessary for a successful breastfeeding experience.
Putting your baby to the breast when they cry will not spoil them!! Your baby may be fussy and crying a lot, and you might feel frustrated because you have tried bouncing him, burping him, and changing diapers, but he continues to cry.
There is no right or normal time to wait between feedings. If your baby stops crying when you breastfeed him, then that is what he wants. If your baby doesn't want to nurse, he will let you know. But, he may respond with relief, as if he's saying, "Finally! Why did you take so long?" All babies are physiologically made for constant contact and feeding. Keeping your baby on a feeding schedule is not how nature intended it to be.
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Are You Enduring a Cluster Feeding Evening Again?
Cluster nursing usually happens in the evenings but can occur anytime during the day or in the middle of the night.
Cluster breastfeeding is very common in newborn babies. Cluster feeding at night can become very tedious; Mom and Baby sleep in the same bed.
During the day, the baby might only breastfeed a few times and sleep between feedings. In the evenings, they might try to catch up on lost feedings with a period of continuous feeding.
NB: Cluster sessions do not indicate a low milk supply!
Supplementing your baby with formula will cause your body to produce less milk. By allowing the extra feedings, you ensure that your body produces just the right amount of milk for your little one.
Is your baby getting in enough milk?
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Possible Causes of Cluster Feedings
- Most of the time, it's normal development. A newborn baby is not entirely skilled at nursing yet. They might have a small mouth, a tiny tummy, and a digestive system that is still developing. This is why your baby might need more time at the breast. On top of this, your breasts are still adapting to the amount of milk required, and constant nursing will ensure a good supply of breast milk.
- Growth spurts.
- Acid reflux.
- A weak suck can cause many sucking issues, such as tongue tie.
- Breast milk supply is generally lower in the evenings, and evening-feed breast milk is not as rich as morning breast milk.
- Your baby might have extra sucking and bonding needs in the evening.
- Colic can also cause a baby to want to breastfeed more often.
- Milk flow is sometimes slower in the evenings.
- Cluster-feeding babies usually seek closeness (maybe because the mom works during the day). Learn more about comfort sucking here.
How Long Does a Bunch Feeding Last?
It depends on the baby, but usually, it only lasts the first month and returns during growth spurts, i.e., months three, six, etc.
- Prepare your activities around a cluster feed if you know that your baby usually cluster feeds at a particular time of the day.
- Take your baby to the pediatrician to ensure the problem is not caused by GERD.
- Get your little one to breastfeed while in a sling; this gives you more freedom to move around and helps calm a fussy, gassy baby.
- Keep yourself busy while your baby is breastfeeding; read your favorite magazine, watch a movie, or chat on the phone.
- Swaddling your baby can calm them for breastfeeding, too.
- Breastfeed on demand and avoid sticking to a feeding schedule, as this can make your baby even more fussy and miserable.
- Newborn cluster feeding is temporary; learning to work around it and accept it will help you enjoy your breastfeeding experience more.
- Infant cluster feeding can work to the advantage of mothers returning to work, as babies who cluster feed usually sleep longer at night. A mother can use this time to relax and bond with her baby.
- Breastfeeding in the laid-back breastfeeding position can improve milk transfer because it allows your baby to position themself at the breast. Most mothers find this position much more comfortable too.