What is cluster feeding or "bunch feeding"?
Cluster feedings are apparent when a baby has periods when he/she constantly breastfeeds for up to three hours at a time. (may be longer or shorter or several sort feedings)
Sometimes a baby might fall asleep on the breast, refusing to let go and wanting to nurse more when waking. Your baby may be cranky, fussy and extremely demanding during these times.
These first few weeks will establish your milk supply. Life will get easier, but for now life may be a little unpredictable. You just need to follow your baby's lead.
Don't let anyone scare you into thinking that you are not producing enough milk. Many moms may hear comments like " Should she be eating again?" "Do you think shes getting enough?" This is enough to make any mother worry. Try to surround yourself with women who have successfully breastfed their babies. La Leche meetings are a wonderful place to find this type of support.
Putting your baby to the breast when he/she cries will not spoil them!! Your baby may be fussy and crying a lot and you might be feeling frustrated because you have tried bouncing him, burping him, a diaper change, but he still continues to cry.
There is no "right" or "normal" time to wait between feedings. If your baby stops crying when you breastfeed him, then that is what he wants. If your baby doesn't want to nurse, he will let you know. But, he may respond with relief, as if he's saying "finally! Why did you take so long?" All babies are physiologically made for constant contact and feeding. Keeping your baby on a feeding schedule is not the way nature intended it to be.
Cluster nursing usually happens in the evenings, but can occur any time during the day or in the middle of the night.
Cluster breastfeeding is actually very common in newborn babies. Cluster feeding at night can become very tedious; Mom and Baby will usually end up sleeping in the same bed.
During the day, the baby might only breastfeed a few times and sleep between feedings. In the evenings, he/she might try to catch up on lost feedings with a period of continuous feeding.
NB: Cluster sessions do not indicate a low milk supply!
Supplementing your baby with formula will cause your body to produce less milk. By allowing the extra feedings, you ensure that your body is producing just the right amount of milk for your little one.
If you are worried about whether your baby is getting in enough milk, you can read the signs here.
It depends on the baby, but usually it only lasts the first month and then returns during growth spurts i.e. month 3, 6 etc.
Other pages on “breastfeeding problems” in connection with cluster feeding newborns:
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I struggled so bad with lack of sleep during the first four weeks. She cluster fed constantly. Hourly! At 4 week check up she was only 3 oz above her …
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For the past 24 hours Jackson has been on a frenzy and feeding nearly every hour. We try to feed, play and sleep, or just feed and sleep etc. But at …
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Glad to know this cluster feeding thing is normal and that one day it will end. :)
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This is the first place I've ever read/heard the term "cluster feeding". My first daughter did this quite a bit, and every attempt I made to stop it failed …