Sunday, February 27, 2011

Early Breastfeeding Obstacles Part #6-Cluster Feeding and Growth Spurts



It's late in the evening. You breastfeed your baby and put her down. 30 minutes later, she's screaming again. You check her diaper. Dry. You rock her. No such luck. She is rooting around and sucking on her fists. She's hungry? How could she be hungry? You JUST fed her. So you bring her to breast again. Half hour later, she's hungry again. In an effort to support you, a well meaning friend/spouse/pediatrician nurse line suggests giving baby a bottle of formula because baby is obviously not getting enough.


Try again. What baby is doing is cluster feeding. What your baby's doing is increasing your supply by creating a higher demand because they are going to need more food. If you introduce formula, or even a bottle of pumped breastmilk, you are interrupting that natural rhythm and not increasing your supply as baby is telling your body to do. As we've said before, babies go through several growth spurts especially in the first three months. Kelly Mom says, "Common times for growth spurts are during the first few days at home and around 7-10 days, 2-3 weeks, 4-6 weeks, 3 months, 4 months, 6 months and 9 months (more or less)." That's FIVE growth spurts in just the first three months alone. It's important that you nurse as often as baby demands during these times. Yes, during these times, it's exhausting. I personally went through a growth spurt where my baby was nursing every 15-20 minutes for about 4 hours every evening for almost a week.


SOLUTION: KNOW about growth spurts and don't forget! Make those around you aware of cluster feeding and tell them NOT to suggest formula. Get a huge glass of water, a few snacks (because you WILL feel like that baby is sucking the food you ate that day right out of your boob) and turn on instant queue on netflix. Use this as an opportunity to catch up on your favorite TV show and enjoy this special bonding with your beautiful baby.

14 comments:

  1. has anyone tried fenugreek? can you start a discussion on that and see if it has boosted supply or not.

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  2. Thank you for posting this. My son just turned 3 months, and has been eating like crazy. He is at the breast every 45 minutes. I thought my supply was decreasing. Good to know it's not.

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  3. Yes, Fenugreek will bring your supply up and help make the growth spurts more bearable, but it makes some little babies more gassy. Try brewer's yeast or blessed thistle.
    I'm so lucky to have a mom who nursed us until we self weaned. She knew exactly what was going on when my daughter wanted to eat constantly at first! She called them 'let-down days'. =)

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  4. Oatmeal will up your supply too. Eat a bowel every morning when baby is cluster feeding.I mentioned this once at a family gathering and my lifetime Iowa farmer grandpa chimed in that I was right and oats work the same for pigs that have low milk supply...thanks grandpa for the support:)

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  5. Ha ha ha! :) Awesome! Maybe we should be asking farmers for lactation advice!

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  6. Thank you for posting. My little one is 2 months and had I not known about clutter feeding it would have been easy to worry if she was getting enough. There have been times where it felt like she nursed almost constantly for 4-5 hours - seems to be mostly in the evening hours. It can be exhausting - I have watched more tv since she has been born than I have in the past 2-3 years. There is a spot on the couch that has a nice imprint of my tush ;)

    I can not get enough water or enough food when she is cluster feeding.. even on some days where she is not.

    Both oatmeal and Fenugreek have great track records for boosting supply! Give them both a couple days to start helping.

    "Let-down Days" I like it :D

    Way to go for farmers and grandfathers!! :D Awesome - my family is from Iowa too!

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  7. Whenever my first born was cluster feeding my husband would pack me a whole bunch of snacks so when I became trapped on the couch life was bearable. Dried fruit snacks, granola bars, juice boxes, bottle of water, apple, banana, cookies... anything he could think of for me. It was really nice!

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  8. Thank you for sharing! Now it makes sense why my 4 month old wants to eat all the time, a little comfort, a little growth!

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  9. :) Yep! I think at 4 month & up we forget about these spurts! :)

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  10. Oatmeal needs to be steel cut oats.. REAL oatmeal.. not the instant stuff that comes in the little pouch. Fenugreek works for some women.. You know you are taking enough when you smell maple syrup literally pouring out of your pores. Your pee, sweat, saliva.. all smells like maple syrup. Another option in addition to the ones above is Fennel Seed. Fennel Seed tastes like black licorice so is awesome over ice cream (WHAT a reason to eat ice cream??), desserts that type of stuff... OR if you don't like Black Licorice like me... you can take it in capsules. Three capsules a day will do it. It is supposed to be one three times a day but I am horrid with this type of thing. I take three at bedtime.. by morning I am begging baby to eat.

    SOMETHING TO NOTE: Just because baby is cluster feeding and you seem to be nursing more often does NOT MEAN YOU NEED THESE THINGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please be clear, these methods are if you have low supply. Baby cluster feeding does not mean you have low supply. It means baby is growing and will need more milk soon. Using these methods to up supply when baby begins to cluster feed may lead to engorgement, over supply, etc. Messing with nature is not a good idea unless necessary... baby cluster feeding to up your supply for an UPCOMING growth spurt is NOT low supply :)

    These methods can be used in a lower amount to keep your milk going strong if you are concerned.. but don't over stress it and go too far the other direction.. Prolonged engorgement, breast not getting "emptied" (though we know the breast is never truly empty)can cause issues for the breast/breastfeeding too. Monitor your breasts (Do they feel too full? Do they hurt after the baby eats? That type of thing) :) If your breasts are still full feeling after baby eats cut back on the milk production stuff a bit.. it isn't a bad idea to eat/take items to keep the milk flowing.. just don't overdo it :)

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  11. Thank you for this post, it has shed a little light! My 6 month (almost 7 month) old has been cluster feeding every hr after 1:30 am for about a month now. . . This momma needs some zzzzzz's!

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  12. This post saved my mental health. Thank you a million times over.

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  14. Oh my gosh, thank you for posting! I thought my supply was going down too, but I always see milk drizzling down my daughter's cheek and hear her gulping as she sucks. It's calming to know it's normal!

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