Even though there wasn’t a lot of time between when I stopped breastfeeding blog Henry and started breastfeeding real Henry there have been some things that I had completely forgot about breastfeeding in general. More specifically, I forgot all about cluster feeding.
Are you familiar with the term? If you are a breastfeeding mom, or were in the past, I am sure you remember it all too well! Even if you had long forgotten about cluster feeding (the way I had) I’m sure just reading the term brings you back in time.
In the off-chance you need a refresher, or you haven’t gotten to the point in your baby’s life that you’ve become familiar with cluster feeding, I’ll tell you what it is.. It’s hell. Just kidding (sort of!) These short periods of time aren’t really a lot of fun for you or your boobs but it will give you something to talk about! ;)
Basically the baby wants your nipple in his or her mouth for most of the day for about 1-3 days. It can be slow torture if you aren’t expecting it and can really put a damper on any plans you may have. The phase passes for a while and everything returns to normal before it retakes over your life for a few days again.
Cluster feeding happens about 4-6 times during the baby’s first year. Usually, the first time is within the first few weeks of life and then about once a month until 3 months. Then again at 6 & 8 & 12 months. I found with blog Henry each time it was for less time and by the end of his first year it was only about a half-day long event. It’s rough in the beginning though, I won’t lie. Most research seems to think that cluster feeding is a way for the babies to stimulate your milk production and I have to agree. It only makes sense!
So, if you are a first time breast feeder don’t get discouraged or think there is something wrong with your sweet little baby when he or she suddenly turns into a boobie eating monster. It’s normal and necessary. Just accept it, hunker down, watch a lot of tv or read a lot of books and sleep, drink plenty of water, and eat when you can. The phase will pass and in the end you will have enough of a milk supply to keep up with your growing baby. Also, keep in mind that once the few days of torture pass your baby will return to their regular eating schedule and don’t let me forget to mention all of the calories you’ll be getting rid of!
Right now I am going through the first cluster feeding with real Henry and it is a serious pain in the boobs. My nipples hurt and I am exhausted but knowing it will end today at some point or even tomorrow is the light at the end of the tunnel for me. Babies grow so quickly and I like to think of this time as a way to bond closely with them, it’s not ideal in the sense that you can’t control when it happens but it really does force you to slow down and focus on just them while it is happening.
Does anyone remember the torture they went through with their own babies and cluster feeding? Do you have any tips to get a first time breast feeder through these stages? Horror stories and lovely stories are welcome!
A great breast feeding resource that talks more about everything breast feeding is KellyMom.com check it out if you ever have any concerns or questions, I’ve found it to be very helpful!