If you are a new mom or remember the first few months of your baby’s life, there was a lot going on. Newborns were needing to be fed every two to three hours, changed every two, and sleeping in between.
There is one thing though that can cause serious exhaustion problems breastfeeding or not: Cluster Feeding.
If you have never heard of it, cluster feeding is when your baby is wanting to eat in a “cluster”. Typically every hour is what it comes down too.
Most of the time this is just a sign baby is needing more and if breastfeeding, is trying to build your supply up.
Now if you’re unlucky like me, you have 5 month old twins who cluster feed from 4pm till 8pm at night still. While I know this is normal and they do it because they sleep through the night, I am so exhausted by the time 8pm rolls around. (I still tandem breastfeed (nurse at the same time) them by the way.)
But I survive through it without any tears (most nights). But I have found a rhythm and ways to deal with this. Ways that have helped me keep my sanity through the constant attachment they have to me at night. Hopefully ways that can help you prepare if you have a little one on the way or are currently dealing with it and feel lost.
5 Ways to Deal with Cluster Feeding
ALWAYS have a full water bottle and a snack next to you. Breastfeeding or even bottle feeding takes alot out of you so make sure you hydrate and eat alittle something to keep up your energy.
Have your phone or TV remote nearby. Having something to do to pass the time baby is nursing will help keep your sanity. Easing your mind off the stress of having to feed your baby so often will keep you calm so baby won’t get upset.
Have everything you need next to you for baby. Burpcloth, wipes, pacifier if they use one, diapers in case of a blowout, etc. Having all these things will allow you to stay in one place for the duration of the cluster feeding times. Going back and forth from one room to the next can be exhausting as you are already feeding your baby constantly.
Ask for help during the feedings. Have your partner, family member, or friend help you get whatever you need. Maybe ask them to help fold the laundry you left in the dryer an hour earlier. Or help clean the kitchen because you have no time to do dishes these days. ASK FOR HELP. People will be willing to help. All you have to do is ask.
(Most importantly) Take care of you! Cluster feeding can make breastfeeding such an overwhelming task. Feeding a baby that often takes alot out of our bodies. We lose calories back to back. Our minds become stressed out because we haven’t had a minute alone yet. Practicing positive and healthy self-care is what will ultimately keep you sane through these grueling times.
Take time for yourself. Pamper yourself. Take a shower. All of this can be done in between feedings too. Whatever it is that helps you relax, DO IT!
Breastfeeding is a such a beautiful experience and bond that you create with your baby from the start. Don’t give up yet!
Keep trying and ask for help if you need it! It will get better with time, I promise! Stick with it Mama!
Warning: If your baby is cluster feeding all through out the day and/or night, consult with their pediatrician to discuss possible weight issues or other problems. Maybe consult a lactation consultant on tips for breastfeeding your little one if you are having issues latching or your supply is low.