Do you have a cluster feeder? Cluster feeding is when a baby will keep seeking to nurse (or bottle feed, but since I’ve never exclusively bottle fed, I will speak in terms of nursing) in short time spans, generally in the evening. While babies usually nurse every 2-3 hours, a cluster feeder may want to nurse every 1/2 hour or so. Often they do so as much for comfort as for food.
My second born sometimes likes to cluster feed at night – still.
At first I was frustrated by this since I was afraid he was only getting the foremilk and not the hindmilk – something nursing do moms need to watch for. But, paying too much attention to the “rules” can place unnecessary stress on you – especially if you are a first-time mom. Oh – and babies don’t know, nor do they care, about the rules!! *grin*
Cluster feeding is entirely normal for babies, and my advise is to let them cluster feed. Yes, it is exhausting for you, but there are a few things you can do to make it easier:
1. This does not mean you don’t have enough milk or that your milk supply is diminishing. It just means baby needs you a little more right now. Please don’t use this as a signal to stop breastfeeding or that you need to supplement with formula.
2. Make and maintain a “nursing station” – a spot where you will typically nurse. Keep a huge bottle of water there (I use an old 2-liter Coke bottle), some snacky items, a spit-up rag, and your Boppy pillow.
3. Keep a book and/or remote control near you while cluster feeding. You may be there a while – and you don’t want to get bored.
4. Find something to use as a footstool.
5. Cluster feed in bed. Lie down and relax – or even sleep – while nursing. This will be a great rest time for the both of you. I often take my book to bed with me. I love to read while lying down – and I use it as a great way for the both of us to wind down before bedtime.
You can cluster-feed your infant even when you have a toddler to care for. (trust me, I know!) Pop in a cartoon for your toddler or lay out his favorite toys. Make sure he has a snack (preferably something that’s not going to make crumbs all over your floor – I prefer apple slices) and his sippy cup. If you have a living room door, shut it so he can’t start making trouble around the house *grin*, kick back and nurse.
Remember, nursing ought to be a wonderful bonding time for you and baby. It should also be a relaxing time. Don’t get caught up too much in all the rules, just sit back and enjoy this time.
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Rosilind, a Pacific Northwest native, is a missionary living in Croatia and married to her hero. Together they live in the country with their 2 active boys where she enjoys fruity candles and a hot cup of herbal tea on a blustery fall evening. She holds an Associates of Practical Theology and is passionate about discipling and encouraging women. Her passion for writing led her to author a number of books. She is the author of A Little R & R where she encourages women to find contentment in what God created them to be. She can also be found at these other places on a regular basis. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google +.