Cluster Feeding Part 1

Posted by on Sep 9, 2010 in Initial Phase of Breastfeeding | 1 comment

Cluster Feeding Part 1

Cluster feeding is also known for bunch feeding. Cluster feeding is when a baby keeps wanting to breastfeed very frequently during a particular period of the day. Usually this happens during the evenings or in the middle of the night, however, some babies may have this even during the day time. The interval between the feeds maybe as short as 30 min to 1 hour.

Cluster feeding usually happens during the first month of the baby’s life or during the growth spurt periods. This kind of cluster feeding usually causes the mother to tire out easily or even having the mother doubting her own milk supply. This period of time can be very stressful and upsetting for mothers who does not understand what is going on with her baby.

There are many reasons why a baby may present with cluster feeding especially during the first month of his/her life.

Baby’s aspect:

  • Baby might be going through a growth spurt. Growth spurt usually happens between first to third week; sixth to eighth week, about third month, about sixth month and about ninth month of the baby’s life. This growth spurt will last for a few days to a week. During this time, the baby will tend to breastfeed very frequently. Hence cluster feeding.
  • Baby might get sleepy or tired easily during breastfeeding. This may occur in pre-term babies or when the mother’s breastmilk is high in Ocytoxin. The baby tends to fall asleep on the breast after awhile and may not get the full feeds during the time of feeding. When the baby is off the breast and finally woken up, he/she may cry for milk again due to hunger.
  • Baby might want comfort from suckling the breast. Some babies are fussy during the first month, perhaps this is due to unfamiliar environment and they are trying to get use to the new environment (outside the womb). Thus, breastfeeding gives them the comfort and helps them to settle down. Some babies may experience colic and finds comfort from breastfeeding.

Mother’s aspect:

  • Mother’s breastmilk maybe slow or low in supply. Some mother may have late onset of breastmilk production which may cause the baby to constantly cry for more milk. Some mother’s milk supply maybe slow during a particular period in the day (usually in the evenings), this may also cause the baby wanting to breastfeed more frequently. If the mother is going through a stressful period (especially during the first month after delivery) or not eating enough or even lack of rest, her milk supply may diminish. This may again cause the baby to cry for more milk.
  • The mother is going through a stressful period. The baby can sense the tension of the mother or the environment which causes the baby feel insecure. The baby may present  with wanting to suckle at the breast more frequently for comfort and security.

 

In my next blog, I will be discussing on how to troubleshoot and cope with cluster feedings. I will also be sharing what some mothers do when cluster feeding occurs. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me or leave a comment here or even share your experience here.

One Comment

  1. Hi, jophia. What shall the mother do when the baby always fall asleep at breast? Should she let the baby sleep and pump the milk out or just wait for the baby to wake up and breastfeeding her? If it is the latter, I’m afraid the baby will go back to sleep again on breast soon and in the end there would be no stimulation and the breasts are not emptied, which will cause the decrease in supply. If the mother pumps out the milk from breasts after baby has fallen asleep on the breast, I’m afraid there wouldn’t be enough time for the milk to fill in the breasts before the baby wakes up crying in hunger.
    What do you suggest the mother to do in this sotuation?

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