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Evening fussiness/cluster feeding

(19 Posts)
Kstar8 Sun 23-Oct-16 20:56:45

My DD is now 8 weeks old. From about 2 weeks, she becomes very unsettled from about 5-6pm and cries unless she is breast feeding. It's getting a bit better (she will break for BF/crying to let us eat dinner in 5 minutes flat!) but this goes on until about 11pm. She will feed and keep falling asleep every five minutes, but wake when I remove my breast from her mouth and cry for more. Or she will just fuss and fight, pawing at my chest, bobbing on and off. I don't know if she is bothered by low milk flow in the evening or what. She can be fussy sometimes at other times of the day but not like this. It's every evening.
My friend has a baby a similar age who has been going down to sleep at 7pm for a few weeks already.

Am I doing something wrong? Does cluster feeding actually exist or is it just poor routine on my part? Does her baby just not need to cluster feed or have we created this?

If so, is it ok to interrupt cluster feeding? I try and go to bed at about 10 and although DD is very unhappy, DH is able to settle her eventually and she will go to sleep (sometimes not until 11.30) until waking for a feed at about 1am. Am I being neglectful by cutting her off at 10ish, am I meant to see it through each night or is the fact that my DH is able to settle her, a sign that she's not genuinely hungry but fussy?? It's exhausting and wrecking my already wrecked nipples (we are battling tongue tie issues still).

Any help or advice much appreciated!

RNBrie Sun 23-Oct-16 21:04:14

You're going to get mixed opinions on cluster feeding. But I've had three dc and for each of them, when they did that bobbing on bobbing off thing it was because they were tired and didn't want milk but the sucking was comforting.

In your position I would swaddle her (they often cry when swaddled but persevere) take her somewhere dark and quiet and either let her suck a bit more or rock her gently in your arms. If she's very over tired then she might cry for a bit before going to sleep (this is not the same as leaving her to cry alone, she's in your arms so she's just diffusing a little). Maybe give it 5 mins of rocking then see if she wants a bit more sucking to go to sleep.

A good routine can help prevent them from becoming overtired but it's really common for babies to be unsettled in the evenings. You're not doing anything wrong!!

buddy79 Sun 23-Oct-16 21:09:18

Hi, don't know if I have the answers to all your questions but cluster feeding is most definitely a real thing, particularly around this age, particularly for exclusively breast fed babies. My son did very similar at this age - just wanted to feed, from about 6pm, might fall asleep for 10/20 mins or so, then wanted to feed again. He would eventually stay asleep for a longer stretch by around 11/12 or so. It was every night until around 14 weeks or so when he just seemed to grow out of it by himself. I found it easier to just go with it - I just sat in front of the tv and got DH to bring me dinner, retreated to the bedroom about 10pm and crossed my fingers! I think it's your decision as to whether you try to actively reduce it, but from what I've read I think at this age they are still adapting to your milk supply - feeding lots actually ensures that your body produces lots of milk, although it can feel like the opposite, so for your supply the best thing is probably to try and continue to feed on demand as much as possible. You are not doing anything wrong and you are not creating it - it's just what some babies need at this age! It is so so tiring though. Your friend's baby is very unusual in my experience!

Coconut0il Sun 23-Oct-16 21:27:00

Try not to compare or listen to the stories of babies who sleep 7 till 7 from a day old. I'm sure some do but they are all different. You are not doing anything wrong. I bf DS1 and he would go much longer between feeds than DS2 who was attached to me permanently for the first 3 months. Our evenings involved me getting comfy on the sofa, box sets on demand, water/ drinks in travel cups and my DP bringing my dinner in cut up into pieces I could eat with one hand. It was just what DS2 needed.
He came to bed about 10 with me, DP would get up at 5 with him and I'd have 2 solid hours. Just do what you need to get your sleep in.
It will pass, DS2 is 14 months now and just bf morning and before bed.

Mermaid36 Sun 23-Oct-16 21:36:07

It's definitely a thing and nothing to do with poor routine or not enough milk etc.

It's partly hunger and partly comfort for them I think...I used to just sit on the sofa and DH would make sure I had plenty to drink and stuff I could eat with one hand!

After a few weeks, we found that introducing a bedtime routine gave us a bit more time in the evening to eat etc.

We take the twins upstairs at 7pm (or after the nearest feed if they are still feeding), have a bit of nappy free time and then a splosh in a bath (we don't use soap/product every time). Once they are dressed, I sit in the dark on the bed and feed them to sleep. That's around 8pm.

That usually gets us a gap until about midnight (they are 6mths actual, 3mths corrected). We go downstairs, have dinner and an hour of tv and I head to bed around 9.30-10pm.

SunsetInToulouse Sun 23-Oct-16 21:52:15

It's normal. Mine got better at 12 weeks and I finally got part of the evening back again. Agree with PP about swaddling and rocking. DD got overtired and needed to be swaddled, held, rocked (or swaying), shhh'd, and her back patted (like a heart beat), for 5 to 10 mins while she screamed until she abruptly fell asleep. If she was still awake after 10 mins I fed her again. She'd usually then sleep for an hour (in the evening) or 3 (at night), then we'd do it all over again. It gets better at about 12 weeks.

Kstar8 Sun 23-Oct-16 21:57:05

Thanks for all the responses. DH and and are feeling more reassured that we aren't completely cocking it all up and this is normal for some babies (we are reading this thread and cluster eating brownies whilst DD cluster feeds me).

I'm still struggling with BF and each feed in the night takes at least an hour plus, possibly due to DS not transferring milk well. So if I went to sleep at the same time as DS, which could be 12pm, I might only get 2-2.5hrs sleep between 1-2am and 4-5am feeds confused
I need that slight head start as I at least get 4-4.5hrs sleep!

It makes us laugh (maniacally) when we read about how we should put her down when she is drowsy as she immediately goes from 0 - crying hysterically in 3 seconds.

So should we just wait a few more weeks before attempting to start a bedtime routine? I just can't imagine ever being able to put her down pre 11pm!

Kstar8 Sun 23-Oct-16 22:01:52

Mermaid you have all my respect. I cannot imagine doing all this with two babies. It's intense enough with this one!

We are fond of rocking, patting, white noise etc but keep reading these are bad to use and you and baby become reliant on them to sleep and baby won't be able to self soothe? We can't give up white noise!

Mermaid36 Sun 23-Oct-16 22:11:20

Bugger that! We have one thing that makes sea/wave noises, and one that does heartbeat/white noise....not getting rid of them any time soon!!

SunsetInToulouse Sun 23-Oct-16 22:25:23

I worked on self-soothing for daytime naps, and went for the option which got everyone the most sleep in the evenings / at night. So DD was fed or rocked to sleep at night, but was laid down drowsy but awake for naps. I let her grumble for 10 mins, but would rock to sleep if she got overtired, or was properly crying. For daytime naps, she always settles herself and has done since about 12 weeks. She was swaddled until about 5 months which I think also helped. She still feeds to sleep at night (now 10 months) but will self-settle if she stirs when I lay her down.

SunsetInToulouse Sun 23-Oct-16 22:28:06

Oh and we also used the white noise for a while. Stopped when the batteries died on it, and didn't cause any issues. That might have been around 4 months, maybe a bit earlier.

AndIAskMyself Tue 25-Oct-16 16:22:56

It is a real thing - I didn't realise some people thought it wasn't. My son does this. He is 11 weeks old now and it did get better at around 8/9 weeks. But the way I see it is that he is tanking up for long sleeps. He sleeps from about 10pm until 9am with one wake for a feed.

For the last few weeks I have been trying to get him more into a routine and I do find it's worse when he hasn't had an afternoon nap, as he sort of falls asleep at the breast and then if I move my boob from his mouth he cries. It's like having my boob in his mouth is the only thing that will settle him once he is overtired.

Kstar8 Tue 25-Oct-16 19:22:52

See my DD doesn't sleep that well at night for all the tanking up she does.
But she does sleep a lot during the day so I'm unsure if I've messed her up somehow. She falls asleep in the pram/car/sling and can be asleep for two hours sometimes. But I can't not go out of I'd go mad!

Mermaid36 Tue 25-Oct-16 21:39:05

See, my girls now sleep really well at night (note: not all the way through), but don't sleep during the day at all!

chillipopcorn1 Thu 27-Oct-16 18:57:50

I really wouldn't worry about a routine at this stage and just embrace the mad evening feeding. We were on timed feedings (doctor's orders) when my twins were tiny waves at fellow twin mum mermaid! But in retrospect I was massively stressed by evening crying which could have been resolved by just sticking them on the boob. Once I'd worked that out things were easier! At 3 months we started bathtime at night, then feed in dark to sleep and put down. Now (5 months) they are ace at it and although the last feed is LONG (at it now -45 mins on!) they go down straight after from 7-1am. I think trying to do bedtime routine before 3 months would have been a disaster. The first 3 months they just needed to be held/fed ALL THE TIME grin (I'm glad those days are behind me!). You will get there!

Mermaid36 Thu 27-Oct-16 19:14:58

chilli my girls are 6mths actual, 3mths corrected and the bedtime routine has been a godsend! We do bath/boob/bed too! Last feed is at 8pm and they sleep until between 1-3am and then until about 6/7am

JosephineMaynard Thu 27-Oct-16 19:23:59

DS2 did lots of cluster feeding in the evening when he was tiny.

Can't remember what weeks he was at now - he's 3 years now, so the cluster feeding feels very long ago - but he would typically want to feed on and off for most of the evening, say between 8 - midnight.
But, he would usually then have a long sleep afterwards, so I'd get a decent chunk of sleep. Even before he was big enough to sleep through the night, he'd have a longer than normal gap between feeds after the cluster feeding stopped for the night.

Can't remember when we started a bed time routine, but it wasn't until after he stopped cluster feeding every night.

MigGril Thu 27-Oct-16 19:36:09

I would say it is normal and evening cluster feeding at this age is totally within normal breastfeeding realms.

But you mentioned two things in your post your nipples are taking a battering are they painful? And your baby has had problems with tounge tie. Are you still getting support for this? More help with positing and attachment from a trained board certified lactation specialist or experienced breastfeeding council could help. The NCT would be a good place to start to see if you have any local breastfeeding councilers close to you.

As long as your baby is gaining weight well then all is good. But there is no reason to say things can't be helped more especially as you also mentioned long night feeds. It is worth seeking more help.

Kstar8 Thu 27-Oct-16 22:58:51

Thanks for the further reassuring posts. Think we will just ride this out until she seems ready to start "going down". She is pretty frantic with the feeding sometimes in the evening and definitely not up for sleep.

Thanks MigGril - We've just had the TT snipped for the second time. We are still getting BF support as I think we're both back at the beginning re learning BF. I've been a bit disappointed with the (paid for) advice from two IBCLC we contacted in desperate moments. Both could only offer that the latch looked good whilst the TT was firmly tethered still. The local NHS/LLL centre support is good.
The evening feeds are indeed long and ridiculous. We both end up falling asleep and then when I wake up and try and put her down she's ready to go again sad
Hoping the recent fren snip may help this. However I am very much taking it week by week and not sure how long our BF journey will last for due to the pain and stress we have been through/still experience.

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