Skip to main content

Warning! Cluster Feeding Ahead!


Warning! Cluster Feeding Ahead!

Congratulations!  Your baby is here and you have made it home from the hospital.  Breastfeeding is being established, the latch is improving and after the first night home you think just maybe you have this figured out.  And then baby starts feeding more frequently, sometimes every 30 minutes or less.  What is happening?  Is baby not getting enough?  Is your milk supply decreasing?  Should you supplement?  It can be very discouraging for a tired and often emotional mom and self-doubt starts to creep in.

Take a deep breath.  You have entered the realm of cluster feeding. 

Breastfeeding is based upon the supply and demand system.  The more a baby eats, the more the mother's milk supply is increased.  By day 4 and 5, breast milk has transitioned into mature milk. During this time baby’s stomach is growing from the size if a walnut to the size of an egg.  In preparation of this growing need, baby starts feeding more frequently to stimulate a larger supply of milk.

“But, my breasts feel empty, not full like before.  Am I out of milk?”

 No.  Soft breast make more milk.  There is a protein called Feedback Inhibitor of Lactation (FIL) that is present in breastmilk.  When this protein is present in large quantities in the breast, in the case if engorgement, it signals to the body to decrease the production of milk.  When breasts are continually kept soft by frequent feedings, the body signals an increase in prolactin to produce more milk. 

Change in supply takes about 2 days.  By frequently feeding and keeping the breast soft, your baby is signaling your body to boost production of milk.  Your baby in the meantime is receiving milk.  How can you tell?  Look at the diapers.  Are you seeing 5-6 wet and 3 dirty diapers each day?  Are diapers transitioning from meconium to a seedy yellow stool? If so, baby is likely to be getting the milk she needs.

So now that you know baby is doing what she needs to and is healthy, how can you survive this often exhausting time? 

First, know that this time won't last forever.  The average growth spurt is meant to increase supply to meet the needs of the growing baby.  Once this is balanced, the spacing of feedings should spread out.

Get comfortable. Breastfeeding is not just feeding your baby.  It is a time to connect and bond with baby.  Take advantage of this time.  Have a comfortable nursing spot, or ‘nest’.   The more pillows and Netflix the better.

Accept help. Keep a list of things you need help with.  When friends and family offer help, giving a specific task will ensure you get the support you need.

Eat and Drink well.  Breastfeeding mothers need to intake an additional 500 calories to their normal diet to meet the needs of nursing.  Also drinking to thirst will help ensure that you stay hydrated.  Keeping a water bottle and healthy snacks in your nursing nest will help keep you nourished.

Sleep.  While it may be tempting to do other tasks once baby is finally asleep, take time to rest throughout the day with your baby.  You are not yourself when you are sleep deprived.  Even just one extra sleep cycle can make a difference in one’s mood and ability to handle stress.

Find support.  There are moms around the world, and even in your community going through similar feedings.  Find a support group that you can reach out to with questions and concerns.  La Leche League and Breastfeeding USA are great places to start.  Ask your healthcare provider or doula if they can recommend local support groups as well.

 
Keep with it and listen to your baby’s cue and your own needs.  The relationship of breastfeeding is a dynamic one that will be changing from day to day.  This relationship will evolve and grow even past weaning.  Enjoy the journey!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

1 in 8- A message for those who wait

1 in 8
One in eight couples have made plans for a family. One in eight couples hope during a year of trying to start their family.And yet, they still wait. 1 in 8
Infertility is a real and common occurrence affecting 1 in 8 couples.  An yet we don't here about it, because those experiencing these struggles often feel isolated in their experiences.
The film One More Shot: A Film about Making Modern Families explores many of the different challenges, emotions, and approaches that are taken on the journey through infertility.
For those whom are going through this journey, this film offers a source of solidarity for those experiencing similar yet unique challenges.Even for those who aren’t the 1 in 8, the film grants a perspective that will hopefully make you more compassionate to those struggling. 1 in 4 For those who do experience pregnancy, studies reveal that anywhere from 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage.
The fact is, in your circle of friends the o…
Happy August Everyone!
It has been an action packed summer in our household.I took a break from doula services to spend time with my family.This year I had Momma Camp for my older two kids, resulting in various adventures every week. One even included seeing a different type of birth at Fair Oaks Farms. School is starting again next week, and Gracious Hands Doula Services is now taking clients for fall and winter.
Here are a few upcoming events you should know!
Understanding Birth Class August 18, 2018
This class is a great starting point for expectant parents learning about all the various aspects and options of birth.The birthing process and methods used to encourage the natural progress of labor will be discussed.Birth interventions, comfort measures, and labor support are also discussed.
Class enrollment is open until August 15th. Register here.
Natural Comfort Measures Class September 15, 2018
Interactive lessons and hands on practice of comfort measures are discussed and practiced to h…

I have a dream...

On a social media page with fellow doulas, the question was asked "What would be one thing that you wish you could change about birth or postpartum in your area of the world".

Just one thing?  My immediate thought went to providing wireless monitors for all birthing facilities.  Restriction of movement during labor prevents baby's normal progression towards birth and limits comfort measures for the mother as well.

But the question got me thinking about what I really would like to see happen here in Indiana, in Tippecanoe County, Lafayette, and my neighborhood.

The Big picture?

I wish that pregnancy, birth and postpartum was something that was celebrated and supported.  I wish it wasn't treated as an illness that needs to be treated and recovered from as soon as possible.  I wish the family dynamic was respected and supported.  Paid leave allowing for time for bonding, establishment of secure breastfeeding, recovery of birth, adjustment to parenthood; all without stress o…