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Newborn cluster feeding

(24 Posts)
MrsGTW2 Fri 13-Feb-15 00:23:05

Does anyone out there have any advice on newborn cluster feeding for a first time mum feeling a bit out of her depth?!

My baby boy is just a week old, so I'm not expecting miracles and was prepared not to get much sleep. However, I was not prepared for the hours of cluster feeding he's putting in every night. Tonight, for example, he has fed solidly from 7pm until 11pm, stopping only for me to change his nappy. The minute I put him down, he'll start rooting around and displaying all the signs that he needs a feed, so he ends up back on my breast. He finally went down at 11.15pm, but then woke again at midnight and is breastfeeding yet again.

I just don't know how long I can keep this up for, as he doesn't sleep well enough in the daytime for me to catch up on sleep either. My husband is doing all he can to help, but given that the only thing that our baby wants is my milk, it's hard for him to share any of the burden.

Any advice/thoughts/tips would be much appreciated, as I'm going to really struggle keeping up with breastfeeding if it carries on like this for much longer.

ruth1104 Fri 13-Feb-15 00:33:01

i feel for you! it is hard going in the beginning; your baby's getting your milk supply established for the rest of his breastfeeding life and unfortunately a lot of that happens at night. It wont last! Get your partner to do all the winding and nappy changing so you get a short sleep where you can, nap in the day wherever possible and make yourself comfortable! If you are concerned about feeding, ask your midwife if you have a support group locally, i found it very helpful and my breastfeeding peer supporter does home visits to help with any issues. congratulations on your little one!

Superworm Fri 13-Feb-15 00:38:29

These early days are really tough going but I promise you it settles down and gets much easier.

It will take a bit of time for your DS to orientate to day and night and right now your just keeping him alive with regular feeds and lots if skin to skin. His tummy is tiny and your milk supply is just getting going, by cluster feeding they are increasing your supply but also tanking themselves up with the fatter milk which will eventually allow him to sleep longer.

It sounds as though your doing all the right things. Get your DH to take him in the day do you can grab a nap. DH used to half sleep with DS in his chest so I could get some rest.

FATEdestiny Fri 13-Feb-15 00:39:32

Clusterfeeding should not last forever bout when you are stuck in a growth spurt it does feel like it. Growth spurts happen a lot so this one will be th first of many.

I found that understanding the nitty gritty biology helped me cope in a more useful way that the usual pro-breast message of everything is fine and normal and good.

Your baby will sleep better, cry less and have gaps between feeds (not massive, but maybe 90-120 minutes through the daytime) when he is not hungry. He can do this when breastfed but there are times when supply is less than demand and that is the reason for cluster feeding.

At the moment he is hungry and wants more milk. So the constant breastfeeding is a means to make your body produce more milk by realising that there is more demand for milk.

After some time clusterfeeding your body will catch up with demand, so baby will not be so hungry because milk production has increased.

The answer is just feed, feed, feed. Your baby will be less hungry, more comforted by sucking and your milk production will increase the more you feed.

stargirl1701 Fri 13-Feb-15 00:40:19

You just have to get used it. DD2 is still at it - 25 weeks old.

Bellyrub1980 Fri 13-Feb-15 01:33:48

It gets better and quite quickly for some babies. (Mine did cluster feeds for about 2 weeks) Keep going!!

Katekoom Fri 13-Feb-15 01:48:28

That last post would have scared the shit outta me!

My dd is nearly 5 weeks and I feel your pain. I think that bfing is one of the hardest bits about a newborn but no one really prepares you for it.

I certainly felt like giving up, like it was a hopeless, never-ending battle - but it does improve! I promise.

My dd still has cluster feeding moments usually in the evenings for a few hours. But its nowhere near as intense as the first few weeks.

My advice would be to hang on in there, it'll soon start to improve. I think i noticed an improvement by 2-3 weeks.

Another way to cope is to set yourself a deadline e.g. 'if i dont feel as though there's been an improvement by the time he's 2 weeks old then im giving up!' it sounds defeatest i know, but it takew the pressure off and you WILL see an improvement.

Finally, when i was really struggling a midwife suggested co-sleeping, just to get some sleep in, and that worked well. I only did it on a few occasions but it was helpful when i felt desperate. Just be sure to follow the safety guidelines.

Oh and oddly just accepting it helps. I am here to feed him, for the next couple of weeks that is my sole duty.

Plus remember the mantra 'this too shall pass'

Your doing an amazing thing breastfeeding and your in the toughest bit rightnow, but stick it out mama, you can do it and it WILL get somuch better!!

Kate x

Katekoom Fri 13-Feb-15 01:49:05

Oh, post before last i mean!

BabyHaribo Fri 13-Feb-15 02:14:41

thanks For you new baby!

It really does get easier and you get better and coping with the lack of sleep.

Cluster feeding is SO normal and you sound like you are doing all the right things.

Tbf feeding from 7-11 doesn't sound that bad to me DD used to keep going well into the early hours! Hang in there

MrsGTW2 Fri 13-Feb-15 02:33:26

Thanks for the advice and support everyone. As a first timer, you just have no idea of what's normal and what isn't, and id never even heard of cluster feeding before now, so felt very alone in this situation when the reality seems to be that so many go through it. I guess I just have to hang on in there and approach it with a different attitude - currently I'm feeling (maybe selfishly) that I'm surgically attached to the sofa/bed and it's ruining my life, whereas I need to realise that I'm meeting my baby's needs and he'll grow big and strong because of me (though even thinking like this is tough when you've had around an hour or twos sleep in 24!).

On a slightly separate note, I've been swaddling our baby to sleep, which I think has been keeping him slightly calmer, but he manages to escape the swaddle every night, no matter how tightly he's been wrapped. Should I persevere and keep trying, or perhaps I should try swaddling under the arms - any suggestions?

PomeralLights Fri 13-Feb-15 02:45:56

Only thing I would add - apart from the assurances that it gets easier (although there will be growth spurts when you feel like you're back to square one, but they don't last long!) is that our dd roots and shows signs of needing a feed when she actually needs to burp. Don't know how long or how effectively you are winding but make sure you (dh) put the effort in, it might give you some much needed respite. Good luck, and hang in there!

MrsGTW2 Fri 13-Feb-15 02:51:23

Thanks PomeralLights - I'm actually a bit confused about winding and spoke to the midwife the other day about it. She said that as I am BF, I don't need to wind our baby afterwards, so I haven't really been winding him at all. Do you think I should be? Happy to put in any effort that might help in the long run!

BiscuitsofYum Fri 13-Feb-15 03:08:14

We are at week 7 now and I feel less attached to the sofa than I did in the beginning. The cluster feeding was hard at the beginning but it does settle more into a routine! Ds was very gassy though during cluster feeding and sometimes just a burping would really help
I swaddle my ds as he's a monkey for arm flapping and hitting himself in the face. Try different things for you for a few nights at a time.. One night it does work doesn't mean it always will and something that doesn't might usually work. Its all practice.

Honeybear30 Fri 13-Feb-15 03:18:46

I definitely had to wind my bf baby. And still do! Re the swaddling, have you tried specific swaddle blankets? I used gro swaddle, they worked wonders and DS slept so much better when swaddled...and still does! You can get them in Boots and also Argos if you don't want to wait for delivery from online ordering.

Good luck with the cluster feeding, sounds like you're doing great and just what baby needs. You won't be tied to the sofa forever, I promise! Enjoy it while you can, I know it's hard but before you know it they get so big and the new born days are gone. I wish I'd revelled more in those sofa cuddles than I did.

ruth1104 Fri 13-Feb-15 03:29:29

my breastfed baby definitely needs winding! its tricky when theyre so tiny but just holding them up straight, with their chin off their chest helps.
Having a newborn is a huge culture shock but try to remember this is such a tiny short period of your whole life, and such an important one in theirs. There are no rules which say you have to breastfeed, its your decision (somehow that makes it easier for me!) but its one i found so worthwhile - check out a thread in infant feeding about lovely things about it... ill try to link..

Katekoom Fri 13-Feb-15 04:41:16

I was told not to wind but she does need it.

I swaddle under the arms, but dd goes bananas if i keep her arms in.

Tigresswoods Fri 13-Feb-15 04:46:10

I've said this before & I'll say it again:

No one tells you that there will be at least one day in the first week to 10 days when you will feed around the clock. It's normal & I promise you it will not last.

Congratulations. grin

Mouthfulofquiz Fri 13-Feb-15 04:46:32

Cluster feeding - I'm afraid you need to just go with the flow! Settle down on the sofa and get waited on while you feed and watch amazing tv.

ThatsNotEvenAWord Fri 13-Feb-15 04:56:34

Congratulations on your new baby. I can't top the advice you've been given but wanted to share my experience. I found bf v hard to get my head round at first. Physically I was lucky not to struggle but mentally I found it a huge challenge, I actually quite resented my DS at times especially when exhausted. I read up about growth spurts (Kellymom website is great) and just saw it as getting through each feed. I'm glad I stuck at it because it got sooo much better, it really wasnt long before I could say I love Bfeeding. Hang in there, I recommend lots of chocolate.

BananaPie Fri 13-Feb-15 05:00:49

It's utter rubbish that bf babies don't need winding! My ds swallows huge amounts of air!

On swaddling, I would say persevere and keep the arms in. Dc1 went bananas when swaddled so I gave up quickly. I persevered with dc2 (swaddle, hold sideways and shush) and it has def improved quality of sleep. White noise also helps.

Hang in there with the constant feeding. It will improve.

MrsGTW2 Fri 13-Feb-15 06:33:06

Yes, I'd like to try and keep his arms in if possible, as he really thrashes around otherwise, and wakes himself up as a result. I just worry about him working his blanket loose in the night, as this has happened a couple of times already. I'll keep practising!

Thanks everyone for all the advice/understanding - I realise I just have to get on with the cluster feeds and embrace the lack of nighttime sleep, but it helps to at least have a community to talk to during these very long nights...

Honeybear30 Fri 13-Feb-15 09:22:38

There's usually someone online at all hours on here if you're ever struggling smile I know mumsnet has certainly saved my sanity on many a night!

LouLouF Fri 13-Feb-15 14:01:08

I was exactly the same for the first month. First 2 weeks were the hardest for me, I nearly gave up bf. DD is coming up for 6 months now and I actually forgot how hard it was until I read this so thought I would comment! I just sat with my feet up and watched tv while dh made dinner etc... and like everyone says, it doesn't last forever smile

MrsGTW2 Fri 13-Feb-15 21:09:41

Thanks so much and yes, I'm only a week in but already feel that this site will save me from those dark times overnight! I certainly don't want to come across as ungrateful - I am so grateful for our little boy - but I don't think that anything can quite prepare you for the overwhelming nature of motherhood and all that comes with looking after a little person. Fingers crossed for a manageable night for everyone!

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