How long does Cluster Feeding last? Get Tips to Cope
What is Cluster Feeding?
Nothing can prepare a new mum for cluster feeding. Just as you feel like you have the hang of it and have a routine in place, bub flips everything on its head and decides they want to feed every five minutes, literally.
Unfortunately, t's a completely normal phase of your new mum and bub journey, but that doesn't mean there aren't some things you can do to make life a little easier.
What is cluster feeding?
Cluster feeding is when a baby wants to feed frequently over a short period. It's your baby's clever way of boosting your milk supply. By continually draining the breasts, your little one is sending a message to your body to produce more milk, and basically, keep up with their growing hunger.
A lot of mums find this frequent feeding to be an incredibly exhausting and stressful experience. Women often worry that their baby is starving and their milk is not enough. However, it's a totally normal physiological behaviour that in no way indicates low milk. It's something that most mothers will experience at some point during their breastfeeding journey.
When does cluster feeding typically occur?
A baby will usually want to cluster feed when they have a growth spurt, emotional development, or reach a physical milestone.
Cluster feeding will usually strike around the one-week mark, as this is when infants commonly have their first growth spurt. Baby will typically want to nurse extensively from the early evening up until bedtime.
It's not uncommon for babies to want to feed every 20 minutes over the space of a few hours. But it's not all doom and gloom; the good news is that because your little one is taking in so much milk, they will likely sleep longer stretches at night.
How long does cluster feeding last?
Babies tend to have their second growth spurt at around the two-week mark. So, be prepared to reopen the 'all you can eat buffet'. These first few growth and emotional milestones will generally be the most intense. After a couple of months, you may find that your little one will still cluster feed but not with the same vigour.
While you're in the throes of it all, glued to your couch for hours each evening, it's hard to focus on the fact it won't last forever. But it won't; typically, babies will cluster feed for a few days before they return to a much more predictable schedule. So try to relax, catch up on Netflix and enjoy the cuddles.
How often does cluster feeding occur?
Although every bub is different, babies generally experience growth spurts in the first few weeks, then at six weeks, three months, and six months. So it won't be bang on the date, but maybe mentally prepare yourself to bunker down on the couch for a few days around these times.
Frustratingly the feeding frenzy is often around the hours of 5 pm-8 pm when dinner needs to be made, and you're ready to put your feet up for the night. So being prepared to be out of action for several hours each night is vital.
How to cope with cluster feeding
Although your baby can't warn you of their plan to feed non-stop for three days, there are things you can do to make sure you're prepared when the appetite hits.
1. Food Prep
On the days you do have time to cook dinner, make double or even triple. Freeze the leftovers in individual meal-sized portions and defrost them as you need. Chopping up some extra ingredients will only take a few minutes, and dinner’s ready for another night.
If you get a quiet window of time at the beginning of the week, chop up your vegetables and store them in zip lock bags. This way, half the work is done when it's time to throw dinner together.
This is a great time-saving trick for smoothies too. Place your fruit in zip lock bags in individual smoothie portions. Then, all you need to do is chuck it in the blender. Adding a breastfeeding specific meal replacement shake mix, like In shape Mummy, to your smoothies will ensure you're getting a good serving of protein and essential vitamins and minerals. Smoothies are an excellent after-dinner snack during these times when you're extra hungry.
2. Rest up
We know it can be tempting to get the housework done while bub sleeps during the day. But resting as much as you can during this time is super important. Mums need to reserve their energy to get through the hectic evenings, so letting the household chores slide for a few nights might be the answer.
You might be eager to exercise, but if your little one is going through a cluster feeding stage, it's best to put vigorous exercise to the side. Using too much energy throughout the day will make the evenings extra hard. Your number one priority at this time is to fill up your hungry bub and relax when you can.
3. Turnoff your phone
When the evening hits, and it's time for dinner, bath, feeding, settling, let your calls go to voicemail, and leave your texts unanswered. It can be such a crazy time, and any distractions will only make it more stressful.
Just focus on getting your little one settled for the evening and keep telling yourself you will be able to rest soon. There's nothing better than cosying up on the couch once your bub is asleep and checking in on your socials, free of distraction.
4. Protect your nipples
It's good to get on the front foot by looking after your breasts and nipples. All this extra feeding can cause your nipples to become irritated, damaged, and sore. Taking some little steps each day to protect yourself is vital.
Try rubbing breastmilk or lanolin on your nipples after each feed. If you're feeling tender and need more relief, Rite Aid Hydrogel Breast Discs will help to soothe your nipples and replace moisture after intense feeding sessions.
5. Be patient
Breastfeeding is such a beautiful way to connect with your little one. So often, it will be the wonderful bonding experience you imagined, but other times it will be hard work, exhausting and overwhelming. But the benefits far out way the tricky bits.
So know that your little one will go through times of needing you a lot, more than you ever could have imagined. But it won't last forever, we promise.
How can In Shape Mummy help with cluster feeding?
Unfortunately, we can’t make cluster feeding go away. However, we can provide you with a convenient, quick, and nutritious meal replacement or snack that will help boost your milk supply.
The In Shape Mummy Health Shake is a meal replacement shake designed specifically for breastfeeding women. The shakes are enhanced with galactagogues, herbs that have been used for centuries to support milk production.
A healthy milk supply is vital when it comes to cluster feeding, and In Shape Mummy has helped thousands of women to power on through the feeding frenzied nights.
Join our Facebook Group, the In Shape Mummy Breastfeeding Support Group and meet likeminded mums.
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