“Definitely wish I’d known about cluster feeding. I remember he was only a couple of weeks old and I was at my mom's house for a celebration and he wanted feeding every 30 mins/hour. I had to listen to a few comments like 'feeding again?' ‘Surely he can't be hungry again?' but I was lucky that I had joined online breastfeeding groups and just carried on feeding him in the knowledge that he was going through a growth spurt or cluster feeding.”
Continuous Feeding is normal
It’s normal for a young baby to have a block in the day when they feed frequently – sometimes continuously. This is known as cluster feeding.
They may also be unsettled and seem frustrated at the breast (especially if they are tired). This can be a worrying time for parents but it can be reassuring to know that cluster feeding is doing an important job. It helps milk supply develop to reach your baby’s needs.
More frequent feeding sends messages to increase production. A baby feeding on an emptier breast is also getting higher fat content milk which may help them begin to sleep for longer intervals. Cluster feeding is also an opportunity for closeness and comfort. It often happens at the end of the day when babies might feel tired or overwhelmed.
"Cluster feeding, also called bunch feeding, is when babies space feeding closer together at certain times of the day and go longer between feedings at other times. This is very common, and often occurs in the evenings. It’s often -but not always- followed by a longer sleep period than usual: baby may be “tanking up” before a long sleep. For example, your baby may nurse every hour (or even constantly) between 6 and 10 PM."
Jess Rhea for La Lache League
"The next few months had their challenges. I wasn’t fully prepared for the demands of cluster feeding every evening, Lola’s fussiness at the breast, my fast let-down, and Lola’s sleeping all night attached to my breast. I took each day as it came and tried to deal with the different issues as they arose. One of the things I found most difficult was feeling trapped on the sofa for hours on end. I usually live my life at 100mph and stopping to sit still for long periods was alien to me. What about that huge pile of washing? Who is going to empty the dishwasher? I need to clean the bathroom! Let’s just say I gave my husband plenty of lists and he never complained about being bored.
After the time I was compelled to watch “Match of the Day” for the best part of two hours when my husband left the room without warning, I issued strict instructions that he was never to leave the lounge before putting the remote control next to me."