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Cluster feeding at night/'witching hour'

(9 Posts)
marshmallowpies Mon 09-Feb-15 09:54:40

My DD2 is 5 days old and her feeding patterns so far are a bit of a mystery to me. She feeds well during the day and goes back to sleep in her Moses basket with no fuss, (we barely see her eyes open in daylight) and starts to get a bit more awake and grizzly at around 8pm - fine, so far.

Last night she fed on and off from 8pm-11pm, including formula top ups (we had to use formula in hospital due to low blood sugars but have been BFing lots more since we came home & supply seems good so far). Then when we tried to put her down about 11.15 the screaming began. DH went to sleep in the other room, as he had to be able to get DD1 up in the morning, and I sat with DD2 for the next 2-3 hours feeding and trying to put her down. Every time she was put down flat she screamed and screamed, but if I tried to get her to sleep on me she'd root for milk and refuse to settle. So I'd offer the boob again, she'd feed to sleep, snooze for 5 mins and then wake and scream again.

DH came back in at 2am when she was due another formula top up, she had about half of that, we tried swaddling her and she finally went to sleep.

I know the short answer is 'this too shall pass' but any advice on a few things from people who've been through similar experiences would be great...Specifically:
- in the end I was feeding DD2 on and off for 6 hours last night (8pm-2am). So she's now still zonked out and hasn't wanted to BF this morning (she took some formula without really waking up) - I'm going to try and hand express now, but any advice on supply being affected by such a huge stint of 6 hours feeding followed by no feeding?
- I can't get over the weirdness that she will happily sleep flat on her back in the Moses basket all day but suddenly at 11pm hates going in it? I'm thinking it can't be reflux as all the babies I've known of with reflux had to be kept upright all day and wouldn't lie flat at all.

I've seen various things about 'training' babies to learn difference between night and day, but it did say there was no point trying to 'train' a newborn (which I agree absolutely) - but even if I wanted to try, I had to have a light on to BF last night, I can't get her latched on properly without being able to look at what she's doing. Oh and I tried feeding lying down but she was having none of it.

Sorry this is very long - any help or hand holding gratefully received! As with most second time mums in this situation, my worry is not about coping right now, but what happens when DH has to go back to work and I have to do this at night and still get DD1 up for nursery too...

tiktok Mon 09-Feb-15 10:31:30

Hi, marshmallow. All this normal and temporary smile Less than a week ago, your baby was inside you....she is happiest when she is close to your sound, your smell, your touch, your warmth. She might be fine away from you in her basket in the day, but most babies are not fine like this at night, and it's not 'weird' for her to want you more - much more - at night.

It's good you are thinking of ways to drop the formula. Does she really need top ups now her blood sugars are ok? Six hours with no breastfeeding is not a good thing to repeat, though there's no harm done with a one off.

The early nights can be difficult to cope with, but it does help if you persist with trying to feed in a way that allows you some rest and sleep, which means lying down if you can...experiment smile

Hope the midwife can come today and help.

squizita Mon 09-Feb-15 16:58:13

My dd was just like this.

It's a phase and will pass. smile It seems so chaotic at the time though.

Mariposa10 Mon 09-Feb-15 17:12:37

As others have said this behaviour is not going to last forever, so the best piece of advice I can give is to go with the flow. A newborn with low blood sugar will be particularly sleepy in the first days and weeks so yours will probably start to 'wake up' gradually and spend less time sleeping during the day. It also is likely to explain why she is tolerating the moses basket for longish periods.

Just accept her behaviour as normal, respond to her cues and research safe cosleeping if she won't be put down. Also practice breastfeeding lying down as this will help both of you get some sleep.

marshmallowpies Mon 09-Feb-15 17:39:54

Thanks all - I managed to hand express 20ml (!!) in the morning, then 2 good feeds at lunch time & early afternoon. Midwife is coming tomorrow and I will investigate lying down feeding positions if I can get to a breastfeeding cafe this week - easier to do with someone observing it I expect.

We mix fed DD1 so I'm not averse to using formula but do want to cut it down. But the intense cluster feeding at night leading to an overly tired baby who doesn't want to feed in daytime seems a bit tricky - as I said, I couldn't even co sleep with her lying on me as we were in a cycle of 'smell the milk, root for milk, feed to sleep, sleep for 5 mins, wake, cry, smell milk...'

I could let her co sleep with DH in the spare room and have him bring her in to me when she wakes, but as I said he needs to get his sleep to be awake and alert to look after DD1 in the morning, plus I suppose my instinct is that DD2 should be with me...

Anyway I am seeing the MW tomorrow so will discuss all of this. Also going to try swaddling again tonight as that seemed to help.

GeekyHybrid Wed 11-Feb-15 23:35:57

I'd be interested to know how you got on marshmallows.

Day 5 here, DS cluster fed last night from 1030 til gone midnight when I had no more milk so we gave him formula. He was hardly interested in actually feeding at 4am and 8am when he awoke slightly but began feeding in earnest about 1 almost non-stop until 4.30, stated again 6.30 until 8.30 and have now been pretty much going again since 10 ish. I'm really hoping it's a phase.

I did speak to the BF MW on the phone and she said day 5 was a growth spurt day but I'm not sure my poor breasts can take another day like this.

tiktok Thu 12-Feb-15 12:37:40

Geeky, it's hard going but easier if you can find a way to lie down and feed. Do talk over whether your baby needs formula or not. He may well be happy just being left to be close to you on or near the breast. Just five days ago he was inside you so being close is familiar and soothing to him. It's unlikely he is desperately hungry but he does get distressed being asked to settle away from you. This is normal. His frequent feeding is setting up your production line and calibrating your ability to make lots of milk. So it's a good thing smile and it doesn't last. Obv you need lots of tlc to enable you to meet his needs while meeting your own as well. A call to any of the breastfeeding helplines will explain this a bit more and help you work out ways of making these days a little easier for you.

GeekyHybrid Thu 12-Feb-15 16:32:32

Thanks tiktok, today already seems less manic. More regular feeding every couple of hours and no sign yet of yesterdays cluster pattern. However it was 3am that he had his final feed with me laying in bed, I had started keeling over on the sofa so it was time to disturb OH's sleep too!

marshmallowpies Thu 12-Feb-15 18:14:51

Yes we've seen things get better in the last 2 days. DD2 awake much more in the day and feeding at more regular intervals at night rather than 6 hours of epic cluster feeds. Even getting a little sleep in between....

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