Cluster Feeding Explained
Does it feel like your baby is constantly nursing? Are you worried about whether they’re getting enough milk? This frequent feeding can cause some to worry. For others it can be exhausting. But there is a good chance that nothing is wrong. As your baby develops there are times when they nurse more frequently. This is known as cluster feeding.
What is Cluster Feeding?
Cluster feeding is when your baby will nurse a number for a short period of time, frequently over the course of a few hours. Generally these spurts happen when your baby is experiencing a growth spurt. This can typically happen around three to six weeks of age.
Cluster feeding happens for two reasons. The first reason is that your baby needs a higher number of calories as they grow. The second reason is that cluster feeding sends a signal to your body to make more breast milk.
Babies will generally take in as much as they do during a normal feeding during one of their cluster feeding sessions. After a few feedings, your baby will have had enough milk to help them sleep for longer periods of time. Growth often happens as they sleep. So cluster feeding is very healthy for your baby, even though it means a lot of work for you Mama.
How Long Does Cluster Feeding Last?
Every baby is different. The good news is that for most babies, it will only last a few days. And you may go through a spurt of cluster feeding each time your little one grows! Usually around day two after birth your little one’s appetite will kick in and they’ll want to feed frequently. This can happen again as we mentioned before at about six weeks postpartum. And then you might experience it again at three months and six months respectively.
If this frequent nursing continues past a few days you should consider contacting your pediatrician and a lactation professional. They might be able to help determine what is happening and make some suggestions to ensure that you and your baby are in optimum health.
Does Cluster Feeding Hurt?
Because your baby is nursing more frequently, some moms can experience a bit of chafing or soreness in their nipples. Using a food safe lubricant like coconut oil or Nipple Crack in between feedings can help to soothe and heal your skin. If you are also pumping, you can use these lubricants both during and after pumping.
Can I Mimic Cluster Feeding if I’m Pumping?
Yes! You most certainly can. Many moms find this easier under the guidance of a lactation professional. Power pumping can help to both express more milk so that you have more on hand to feed your baby, and it can mimic the signal sent to your body to make more milk. Power pumping is pumping multiple times over the course of one hour. To learn more about power pumping, read this article all about the techniques.