Cluster Feeding

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Heatherbella's picture
Joined: 02/14/05
Posts: 4169
Cluster Feeding

Ok, what's the low down on this 'cluster feeding' thing I hear so much about. My DD was a light-weight and definitely didn't do any sort of accelerated feeding...but I think DS is needing more. Sometimes, like after he's had a super long sleep (4 hours or more) he will act like he's hungry over and over even when I think he should be full-filled. He just won't settle and acts hungry, so I'm like "well, I guess I'll try feeding him again.". I don't want to over feed him when he just wants to comfort suck...

quonsetmom's picture
Joined: 10/10/12
Posts: 1559

Both my girls have had periods where they eat every hour. I think it's just part of some baby's natural rythems.

Clarkton's picture
Joined: 01/07/08
Posts: 1972

I've always fed on demand and also never been good at figuring out if they are anything other than hungry. Both my boys liked to eat often and didn't space out feedings for months so I was always nursing every 2 hours min and often would seem like I just finished and they were ready again. DS1 was a big comfort nurser but with him being early and small I never had to worry about over feeding. He got to where he would be literally attached to me like 75% of the night. It was exhausting!

DS2 was a slow eater. I remember specifically timing night feedings. He would be on the boob for 45 mins for a feed and would then want to eat every hour and a half. Yep, that's a 45 min break for me to try to sleep. He wasn't a comfort nurser like DS1 at least. Again I just figured if he would latch then must be hungry.

So far this is my easy baby...I've not had one of those before so it seems too good to be true. I actually got a 4 hr stretch of sleep last night and she is efficient. Most her nursing sessions are less than 15 min and she eats both sides in that time.

I'm not sure any of this helps but thought I'd share my experience. As to cluster feeding specifically, yes you can have just fed them and they want to eat again. I always just offered to be sure. I really don't think you can over feed them at least it never seemed to be an issue with mine. The one thing I noticed with my comfort nurser was when I would have another let down and he was just wanting a paci he would get a bit annoyed. But my second would eat and then pop off when he was done getting milk.

Heatherbella's picture
Joined: 02/14/05
Posts: 4169

Yes! Experience always helps. I don't think I ever had DD want to feed every hour for 4-5 hours before! I don't remember her doing that ever.

Yay for efficient nursers! DD was rarely over 10 minutes to nurse. DS isn't much more but he often falls asleep. I haven't been offering both sides yet because I figured his stomach was so small and my destroyed nipple could use a break. LOL.

Both my babies pulled off when they were done, so I guess that's a good sign...

Oh, he's screaming...better run...

sandraleigh's picture
Joined: 11/23/06
Posts: 2672

Yeah, especially after a longer stretch at night mine tend to want to eat every hour-1.5 hours for a couple hours to "catch up". Thankfully my boobs don't mind.....they need to be emptied by then!

Heatherbella's picture
Joined: 02/14/05
Posts: 4169

Mine need to be emptied but one side is still so sore. Sad

MJDttc's picture
Joined: 08/12/12
Posts: 1118

We are at the nursing for comfort/wanting to be attached to the boob all day phase, I am keeping an eye on her though and popping her off once I notice she is more of less holding my boob hostage and not actually eating. Can't tell if my boobs are just super well regulated or what. I get leaky about every couple hours or so when it is about time to feed, but other than a day or so of engorgement when my milk came in, I haven't had the overly full feeling (maybe because I BF DS for so long? or is it just easier the second time around?) I dunno I am trying to look for signs I am doing something wrong because this just seems too easy so far...

Joined: 03/07/05
Posts: 1595

You know, it doesn't really matter why baby wants to be latched on!! If they are crying for the boob, it's so much easier for you and baby just to let them nurse. Smile With my first I use to get all worried about a schedule and if she was nursing too much (she never went longer than 2 hours for the entire first 6 months, except at night). I would use a paci and do all sorts of crazy pacing around the room with her during the day trying to stretch out her feeding times and get to have a "full feeding." All it did was make me crazy and make my dd cry... and she didn't eat anymore at a feeding, she was just mad in between. Honestly, if you can manage it (wish I could have with my first) just forget the clock altogether. I tracked my dd's feedings (actually wrote down the exact times) for like 6 months. Talk about OCD! The doctors would ask me how many times she nursed in 24 hours and I always knew, lol. Anyway, by my 3rd I was able to stop tracking feedings quite so religiously, and by my 4th I never looked at the clock once... really SO MUCH BETTER! AHhhhhhhhhh. Smile Now, if someone asks me how many times the baby eats, I just smile and say, "oh about every 2-3 hours." because I know that's the correct "book answer." I have no clue. SOmetimes she eats and wants to nurse again about 10 minutes later. Sometimes she nurses for a half hour, sometimes 10 minutes. Sometimes she goes 3-4 hours in between. In the end, she's gaining weight well, I don't have to listen to her cry because I simply nurse her when she wants to. Everyone is happy and healthy. What the books say (and even similar thinking exists among doctors) is "typical for newborn eating" is still based much more on what formula fed babies do... There was quite a bit of time when formula feeding was the norm, and it is normal for those babies to "get on a schedule" at a very early age. The milk is different, and the packaging is different. If you can manage to throw out the idea that breastfed babies are "suppose" to somehow be on a schedule you really will feel so much better, because trust me, M is normal. So was your dd though too... babies are just plain different! And again, it's such a short time in the grand scheme of his life. You won't be able to snuggle and nurse this little guy forever. Wink Maybe instead of looking at how you can stretch the feeding times, look for something you can do to make the time nursing him even more enjoyable. Maybe there is a favorite spot where you can get really comfortable. Maybe you can have a stack of books there for your dd and one or two of your favorites too for during the day. At night, just close your eyes and grab a few minutes of sleep yourself, then when you wake up again simply place him back in his bed, and you can go right back to sleep yourself. ANyway, I guess what I really want to say, is "don't fight the process." Sometimes we have ideas about how things are "suppose to be" but if we just listen to our mommy instincts and do what feels natural, we realize that things work out well in the end.

Joined: 10/12/04
Posts: 961

I didn't agree with many things our former pediatrician said but one thing that stuck with me was "it's basically impossible to overfeed a breast fed baby." Lucas was a fatty. He told me that if he were a formula baby, he'd have been concerned but "that's all breast milk and that means he's perfect!" And now of course he's a skinny little thing! Lucas nursed constantly. I'd say 45 minutes on, 45 off nearly around the clock at first. Drove me crazy! Eventually after 4-5 months he got it down to 15 minutes but it seemed like forever before he got that efficient.

Ive been saving up a list of TV shows to watch on Hulu during the upcoming marathon nursing sessions I know are inevitable. I know some friends who put together a snack basket to keep where they nurse as well. I might do that this time!

Heatherbella's picture
Joined: 02/14/05
Posts: 4169

"pollo_la" wrote:

You know, it doesn't really matter why baby wants to be latched on!! If they are crying for the boob, it's so much easier for you and baby just to let them nurse. Smile

Perhaps that's true if your nipples are totally healthy...but left one is a massive freak show. The nipple tip is peeled off and bleeding. For the last few days I have been airing it out as much as possible. It's getting better but it still hurts like heck when he latches on. I even cry out in pain it's so bad! Luckily once he gets on it's normally fine if he doesn't play that 'on and off' game. I just can't take him going on and off that nipple over and over...plus that seems to re-aggitate it and set me back in the healing process. Thankfully the right one is totally fine (show off) but I need to keep using the left too!

"pollo_la" wrote:

I tracked my dd's feedings (actually wrote down the exact times) for like 6 months. Talk about OCD! The doctors would ask me how many times she nursed in 24 hours and I always knew, lol.

I did this with my DD too...but so far this pregnancy I haven't written ANY down. Well, the hospital needed that info but I haven't done it since. The midwife was really forceful with me feeding DD because of her slow gain...and I needed to keep track to ensure I fed her 'enough'. This time I'm glad that's all behind me.

Anyways, if/when I can get my left breast to play nice, then I will be more happy about feeding more often.

Joined: 03/07/05
Posts: 1595

Oh yeah, with one of mine I had a sore bleeding nipple. That definitely is no fun. Have you tried any cream on it. I forget what the stuff is called... starts with an "L"... it helps!

Heatherbella's picture
Joined: 02/14/05
Posts: 4169

I think Lanolin is what you're thinking of. I used it last time but this time I'm using a small sample the midwife gave me of this stuff:

Nursing Mothers Soothing Salve – panacea herbs

It seems REALLY good. I normally air it out as long as possible to let it heal, then put some of that on before a breast pad. I've been using the cloth breast pads because they have better air flow. The salve is great because it keeps the nipple from sticking to the pad. THAT sucks.

Heatherbella's picture
Joined: 02/14/05
Posts: 4169

Also, I'm starting to think he just latches on that side differently. I have been alternating the cradle hold, the football hold and side laying when nursing on that side. It's nice to have different positions to try. I'm being careful to make sure he gets enough areola in his mouth, but it seems like he's pinching or something. The midwife comes this morning so I'm going to ask her about it some more.

I slept most of the night with nothing on that nipple and it looks better this morning...but it's next up to nurse so...ugh. I'm dreading doing both sides at one feeding...it's going to hurt SO bad.

Joined: 08/25/07
Posts: 203

APNO (all purpose nipple ointment) is also good. You have to have a pharmacist compound it, and your midwife would have to write a prescription. Also, to let your nipple heal you may want to ask your midwife about a nipple shield. I had to use one for a little while with DS1 to let it heal b/c he would rip it open every time.

Heatherbella's picture
Joined: 02/14/05
Posts: 4169

I was thinking about nipple shields...I will ask the midwife today.

The midwife said she could write me a prescription for nipple cream but it has steroids in it so I'd prefer to avoid it if possible.

Looking at the nipple right now it seems to be getting better. The area that was raw was depressed...and there is less of that now. We'll see how it looks after the next cluster feed. That whole breast seems to be behind the game. It was engorged for longer...and it always seems firmer. I never got mastitis last time but it's definitely in the back of my mind. I think I'm just starting to feel like 'what can go wrong will go wrong' with this post partum period... Sad

Clarkton's picture
Joined: 01/07/08
Posts: 1972

:bighug: So sorry it's rough for you this time. I know how you feel though...I also have more trouble with my left nipple. I've always felt its something about the shape and maybe how I hold baby on that side. IDK exactly but it's the same every time. I was having trouble in the hospital with her latching too shallow and pinching. I was blistered on that side before I left the hospital. Ive been concentrating on her latch and while she still pinches some. It has gotten better. I always felt like some of that is just due to their mouths being so small. Ive never been able to completely resolve it with a "correct" latch but could be just I never got it right. Sounds like you're already doing everything I know to do or have done. I've never tried a nipple shield though. Hope your m/w has some ideas to help.

Heatherbella's picture
Joined: 02/14/05
Posts: 4169

I seem to remember this side was a problem last time too, initially anyways. I hope it ends soon. His latch is great...on the other side. It doesn't hurt one bit. This one is a different story. I'm trying to ram my breast in there really hard so he'll get a good latch.

Clarkton's picture
Joined: 01/07/08
Posts: 1972

I also wanted to say love your new siggy pic! Great pic of K & M...so sweet!!:)

Heatherbella's picture
Joined: 02/14/05
Posts: 4169

"Clarkton" wrote:

I also wanted to say love your new siggy pic! Great pic of K & M...so sweet!!:)

Thank you! I just LOVE it! A photographer took some pics of them on Wednesday. Well, most of the pics were of M wearing some of the crocheted photo props I make. I'm going to use the photos to sell my wears on my FB page. The woman did the photos in trade for her keeping all the props I made. Total score. She has bought things from me in the past. Biggrin

Heatherbella's picture
Joined: 02/14/05
Posts: 4169

M hasn't gained any weight in the last 4 days, so the midwife wants us making sure we stay nursing on the same side more to get the hind milk. She says only switch sides after 3 hours. It gives the side on a break the time to make more hind milk, plus there is a better chance of him injesting more. She also looked at my latch. Not great. I need to make sure to get more in his mouth. Oh fun.

Joined: 03/07/05
Posts: 1595

Oh shoot, Heather! One more thing to think about, right?! Aidan had a "slow to gain" week from 1 week old to 2 weeks old... he then made up for it and gained almost a full pound the following week though. Hang in there!

Joined: 08/25/10
Posts: 385

I always only nurse one side for a 2 hour period. I found it REALLY helped with sore nipples the first time around. Now I still do it, since frankly if I would start offering the other side, the kid would get way too much milk (he already gets a ton). He frequently wants to nurse for comfort, and gets bombarded with milk, and then has to cough and burp and spit up. But I'm happy I always have tons of milk, and I know ultimately he is too!

Everything I've heard about nipple shields makes me think you should avoid them if you can. Once started, it seems the baby doesn't know how to relatch without them so easily, and mama gets addicted and doesn't ever want to get rid of them. And apparently the LO doesn't get milk nearly at the same rate.

sandraleigh's picture
Joined: 11/23/06
Posts: 2672

I used a nipple shield this time for about 6 days, it was long enough to let my bad cracks heal, and then we started nursing without it again. I didn't want to use it for too long and become dependent on it, but it was just long enough to get me through that worst part with the bleeding and scabby nipples.

Momma Leah's picture
Joined: 05/13/12
Posts: 1047

I have never had cracked and bleeding nipples, sounds painful! Mine have been bruised though, and I know that is uncomfortable.

Heatherbella's picture
Joined: 02/14/05
Posts: 4169

The midwife was just here and M put on 6.9 oz in the last 2 days. She was hoping for 2 oz! Yay for us! In other exciting news I'm allowed to start going out for short trips every couple days now! No huge grocery shopping trips but at least I can go out. :). We have a BBQ at 3pm. Blum 3

Clarkton's picture
Joined: 01/07/08
Posts: 1972

Yay, way to grow M! Impressive! Biggrin

Also, yay for less restrictions! I hope you enjoy your outing today.

eliann's picture
Joined: 04/19/11
Posts: 2440

Lurking...

Sorry to hear you have a barracuda nurser and your nips are sore. I went/am going thru the same thing. DS nursed like every 45 min for the first 2 weeks. My left nip had a giant crack that bled. I have flat nipples and we had latch issues. I used the nipple shield initially because of the soreness and then to help with the latch and now his latch is better but I have an overactive letdown, so I am still using it. It has saved my nursing relationship. No amount of lanolin helped.

About the cluster feeding, for me it has continued in the early evenings. He eats about every 2 hours during the day and then every hour between the hours of 4 pm and 8pm. It totally sucks, because its hard to cook dinner and it makes my nips raw. Good news is he sleeps 7 hours after that, so my nips have time to heal. I bought motherlove nipple cream and I use it with lanolin and seems to be better than just lanolin alone. Also dipping your nips in a saline mix helped.

Hugs hope you feel better and lil man gives you a break soon.

eliann's picture
Joined: 04/19/11
Posts: 2440

Oh and I just use the shield on my left side and it has not affected his latch on the right side. I nurse him without the shield when on the go to and his latch is fine on that side too, he just chokes bc too much milk comes out and he makes as mess. I would not hesitate to use it.

elleon17's picture
Joined: 01/26/09
Posts: 1981

"sandraleigh" wrote:

Yeah, especially after a longer stretch at night mine tend to want to eat every hour-1.5 hours for a couple hours to "catch up". Thankfully my boobs don't mind.....they need to be emptied by then!

that makes so much sense and I never thought about it that way!

He cluster feeds during the day and usually around the same time. At night he will go much longer, but I get sore.

Heatherbella's picture
Joined: 02/14/05
Posts: 4169

Ya, I've noticed he does the cluster feeding before or after a long sleep. Long for him is 4 hours. LOL

So I pumped the heck out of my sore breast today. Oh MAN! Why didn't I do that sooner? Seriously. It feels SO much better now! It's not perfect but so much better. I'm starting to think I was getting a bit of mastitis. I read something about mastitis this morning and it definitely sounded like it was heading that way.

Clarkton's picture
Joined: 01/07/08
Posts: 1972

I've not had it before either but sounds like bad news! Glad pumping was a relief for you. Smile

Heatherbella's picture
Joined: 02/14/05
Posts: 4169

I'm still feeling great the next day after pumping. I thought I'd have to do it more but he seems to be emptying it himself now. Silly thing is I only got 2 oz out. TWO OUNCES were causing that much discomfort for that long? What the heck? LOL

Joined: 03/07/05
Posts: 1595

Oh Heather!! Glad you're feeling better. Smile

elleon17's picture
Joined: 01/26/09
Posts: 1981

"Heatherbella" wrote:

I was thinking about nipple shields...I will ask the midwife today.

I use nipple shields for small nipples and couldn't live without them. She latches, but shallow and it hurts at times. She was cracking me the first few days and don't know what I would have done without the shields.

elleon17's picture
Joined: 01/26/09
Posts: 1981

I hate feeling full or sometimes in the morning or night I will get really solid masses on the side of my breasts. I pump if she's not hungry, but I'm a crazy pumping lady too, lol! I'm storing about 24 oz a day right now.

Thank goodness we have another freezer because I'm taking over one already! (2 full shelves down)

akpufa's picture
Joined: 01/31/08
Posts: 3078

Wow Noelle that's awesome! It takes me a week to pump that much Wink

Hudson is cluster feeding at the moment again. I can tell he's growing, he's getting some fat on his skinny legs so I know it's for a good reason but its kind of frustrating feeding him, then 30-60 minutes later he's ready to go again. All day long. Hoping we are on the downhill of this since we're on day 2 now.