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What to expect from cluster feeding(55 Posts)
Ds is due in 3 weeks and I am very much hoping to be able to successfully breast feed him. Unfortunately I failed with DD, due to flat nipples, but have much more info at hand this time round so am trying to be optimistic.
Reading about breastfeeding online, cluster feeding seems to be a common theme, where mum's are seemingly awake the entire night feeding baby.
Please could those with experience of breast feeding please give me a realistic account of what I should expect from cluster feeding so that I can try to prepare myself mentally?
I'm not looking for horror stories, but just genuine advice on what happens, what helps, how long does it last over all, when do things improve etc?
I am hoping that by being informed before going into it this will deter me from giving up.
The first few days/week is just a bit of a blur of sleep/wake, but it calms down fairly quickly. My first had stopped cluster feeding by two months for sure, because we went away, and I could put him to bed. The second was about the same I think. For mine, they fed frequently between about 7 and midnight. I solved this by going to bed early and just hanging out watching movies. It was tiring, and I have hidden under the duvet from them both, but it is limited - it does end!
I only had about one day's cluster feeding with my son, it wasn't anywhere near as bad as I expected but I think I was lucky!
My recent experience (baby now 7 months) was that at various times over the first 7-9 weeks, cluster feeding occurred in the evening rather than all night. I remember it being from around dinner time to around bedtime most nights, with short naps in between. I just watched a ton of telly while feeding, I think.
DC1 didn't really cluster feed.
Dc2 literally fed for 10 hours solid from 10pm-8am for the first week! I had him in bed with me and fed lying down, just swapping him from side to side.
DC3 had a night or two of constant feeding. Then generally whinged and fed from 6pm until 10-12pm for the first 3 or 4 months. Though she did then sleep 8 hours solid.
Mine cluster fed a lot. It was usually the evenings and he could be on and off from 4pm - 10pm easily, then on and off all night as well. However the night feeding I found a separate thing - the cluster feeding was mainly sporadic and in the evenings while the all noghyvfeeding was constant and lasted many months
I found it very tiring - set yourself up comfortably with plenty of fluids and snacks and something to distract you. Mine did this in several bursts up to about 12 weeks. The all night up and feeding lasted over a year (sorry.)
I actually suspect he had a feeding problem but despite multiple requests to check nothing was done and it sorted itself eventually. It’s certainly made me decide to give my next one a bottle a day as ds ended up a bottle refuser too!
Learning to nurse lying down in bed is very helpful indeed. I wasn’t keen on co sleeping at first but if done safely it can work for some people.
Hope it goes well for you!
I found that when I googled on the internet most of the cluster feeding was listed as between 5-10pm typically. That made me feel a bit bad because my little one cluster fed until about 2am in the early days. It was hard, but I went to bed early, watched movies, read books on my kindle and tried to nap in the mornings too. For the first few weeks anytime my family came to visit I would go to bed while they had baby. It’s difficult at the time, but it does pass. I could never get the hand of side lying feeding but if you can then that would definitely help!
DS cluster fed from about 9pm until 1am for the first 4-6 weeks. If it had been slightly earlier say 7-11pm it would have been a lot easier. 9pm was a killer as I was getting ready to sleep. However it also didn't help that DS would then wake again at 3am and 5am for a feed and sometimes wouldn't go down in between the feeds.
It doesn't last very long though - at 6 weeks it actually moved earlier on in the evening and shortened to 2 hours, so i just had to eat dinner one handed!
Good luck - you'll be amazing
DD is now 14 weeks.. for us the all night cluster feeding only lasted 2 days, and I literally got no sleep, she would feed,catnap on me then go back to feeding, unfortunately there's no way to make that bit easier!
She very quickly started spacing out feeds overnight and would cluster feed from about 9pm-1am, then would go for a couple of hours between feeds for the rest of the night so I could sleep in between.
From about 4 weeks she gradually bought her bedtime forwards herself, cluster feeding for a couple of hours, then into the cot for 2-3 hours between feeds, and now at 14 weeks she feeds on & off from 6-7,then goes into the cot for the night, with 2 or 3 feeds between 7am - 7pm (on a good night)
Every baby is different, but the really awful all night feeding is usually for a short amount of time, it does get better & easier to deal with. Although sometimes growth spurts mean a lot more night feeds
I just installed myself infront of the TV watched rubbish & ate whatever I wanted :D there are perks!
I’ll also say that I found BF very painful for the first ten weeks. I’m not saying that to put you off, but because everyone told me that if o was doing it right it couldn’t hurt. But it did hurt and yet everyone said the latch was good.
I’ve since heard a LOT of women say that it hurt at first. So be prepared for that. If someone had just said to me ‘yeah it. An be like that, it’ll probably get better’ I’d have felt so much better about it!
Ds2 is now nearly 8 weeks. I learnt to feed laying down and often wake up to see him with a nipple in his mouth. Other than that it's not too bad if you just ride with it and accept it. I hold ds2 with one arm and play with ds1 with the other.
Also make myself a hot tea and tea in s thermos cup so I have two drinks with me.
Ds2 has an awful latch so I basically just have a baby permanently attached to my boob.
Keep your expectations low and you'll be fine. My aim most days is to empty the dishwasher and that's about it. Don't even care if I don't get dressed
I have successfully bf both of my DDs. The cluster feeding is a total blur. I would say the best mental preparation is to get your head round doing literally nothing at all but feed, sleep and being too tired to do anything. It probably won’t be that bad but if you have your head in the right place then any other stuff you can do (even just chucking a wash in/making a sandwich) is a bonus. I remember getting massively frustrated even at 6 weeks that I couldn’t wash up after dinner as I was always feeding. I have a couple of friends who wanted to breastfeed but were trying to pop places for half days/longer when their babies were less than a fortnight old and, although I acknowledge I don’t know the whole story, I think this can’t have helped get the breastfeeding established properly. Best of luck.
Agree with @Anatidae it was toe curlingly painful for the first few weeks and sometimes I would be crying while feeding however it suddenly got better around 6 weeks and I carried on until a year. I wish someone had told me that sometimes it can be painful and that it didn't mean I was doing it wrong!
Agree about pain too. DP sat with me for a couple of night feeds with both DDs and helped me breathe through the pain, much like labour tbh! And after a while it just didn’t hurt any more so I’m really glad I stuck to it.
DD1 cluster fed from about 6pm- 11pm every night for around 8 weeks.
DD2 cluster fed all night (until around 4am when she’d be wide awake) for what felt like an eternity but was probably around 3-4 weeks. It was tough going, especially as DD1 was only 20 months old and was up 3-4 times a night too.
Mine were both afternoon/evening cluster feeders. With my first the cluster was every hour, with my second it was pretty much constant (which would have been very demoralising if it were my first as it was very painful to feed her). Both always stopped and slept around 10pm, and otherwise it was generally around every 3 hours at night and more frequent during the day. After the first few weeks they both had a longer sleep during the first part of the night - 4-8 hours and we then had our best period of sleep before it rapidly went downhill at 4 months onwards.
With all three of mine my nips have been sore at first and I would say that is normal - one of them actually did damage though and that isn't normal, wounds mean there is a problem!
I also had a really strong, painful let down reflex with all of them for the first few weeks, it would make me wince.
Read Kellymom website- it explains cluster feeding and growth spurts when cluster feeding occurs. My baby has been pretty textbook and followed this pattern.
First night home from hospital was non stop (wish I had known about cluster feeding then as was going out of my mind thinking baby wasnt getting milk!) and I mean non stop. Think it was about day 12 when he cluster fed again for a couple of evenings and then 4-6 week growth spurt for about a week- but this was far less intense- though was still confined to the sofa- this was less evenings/nights and more afternoons. Week 9 and he seems to be feeding a lot less now. Waiting for next spurt which I believe is around week 12.
My DD (now 7 months) cluster fed constantly for the first few months. Tbh if a baby is latched properly it shouldn’t hurt, also personally I didn’t like nursing laying down as it made me even more sleepy, but whatever works for others.
I would say if I were to have another cluster feeding baby it would be the mental preparation I would have a head start on. I use to stress constantly about trying to get things done whilst she napped as I knew I’d be tied to her for hours once she woke. Next time I would sleep, let the house be messy, let the clothes mount up and be safe in the knowledge you can’t over feed a baby, everything else can wait and it does end!
Fabulous website - non judgemental, evidence based and very sensible it’s a fantastic resource. Pretty much every question I had I found the answer to there and the tone is very factual and not hectoring or lecturing.
Thank you everyone for your really honest feedback, I'm starting to get the picture.
Another question if you don't mind. As mentioned in my op, I already have a DD, she will be 14 months old when ds arrives. I'm slightly nervous about the idea of ds needing to be fed all afternoon and what on Earth I would do with DD? Any ideas? She's a lovely but clingy baby, and whilst I am fine letting the house go, I obviously still need to be very much present for my dd.
I was extremely fortunate as DP had 6 weeks off when DD2 was born. Have you got any help?
Should have added that I have absolutely no help. Dh will take 2 weeks off but is self employed so can't take any longer than that. No family close by and most friends have very young babies of their own.
Am I totally screwed?
Lots of cbeebies late afternoon I should think, and have her tea prepared earlier in the day.
I had bigger age gaps than you but I would feed while sitting at the table while the others had tea, feed in the bathroom while they were in the bath, feed sitting on their bedroom floor while reading a bedtime story...
What time does your partner get home? Can he do toddler bedtime and make dinner while you sit on the sofa?
Not at all. Have a think about things your DD will stay still for (food, bath, tv, books, emptying your underwear drawer, library rhyme time, whatever) and try to work out how you would comfortably bf in all those locations. That’s a start at least. And stock up now on whatever DD will eat (even as far as freezing cheese sarnies!).
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