Dear new mommies, find answers to your FAQs about cluster feeding right here

Every first-time mother should be warned about cluster feeding. An expert tells you what you MUST know about it to make life easier.
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Team Health Shots Updated: 21 Mar 2022, 12:59 pm IST
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Actress Evelyn Sharma has been sharing nuggets of her motherhood journey on social media. In one of her Instagram posts, she delved upon cluster feeding. Now if you’re a new mommy or a mother-to-be, it’s important that you know that while breastfeeding is one task, so is cluster feeding! Want to know more about it? Read on!

In her post, accompanied by a picture in which she is seen breastfeeding her baby, Evelyn wrote: “When you thought you finally established a routine and then she starts #clusterfeeding!” Check out her post!

7 common FAQs about cluster feeding

Mercy Nixon, Lactation consultant, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Chennai (T Nagar), tells us all that new moms need to know about the phenomenon.

1. What is cluster feeding?

Cluster feeding, also called bunch feeding, refers to a feeding pattern when the baby needs lots of short feeds over a few hours. This is normal behavior in a newborn at anytime of the day. Cluster feeds happen between 3 weeks to 6 weeks of life, because the baby experiences growth spurts, and so they require more milk than usual. Usually, a mother experiences this issue more in the evening or in late afternoon. This lasts up to 6 months of age.

2. When does a mother identify that a baby is cluster feeding?

A mother can identify this pattern when the baby is a few days or weeks old. They won’t stop crying until they are fully fed. They want to suckle constantly in short sessions.

3. Are there any benefits of cluster feeding?

* A mother will start to produce more milk.
* The baby will sleep for longer time after cluster feedings.
* It helps a baby to be emotionally and neurologically regulated.
* It increases skin-to-skin bonding with the baby.

4. What are the risks of cluster feeding?

* The mother experiences nipple soreness.
* The mother is exhausted both physically and emotionally.
* Often takes time away from family and household works.

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5. What is the difference between a colic baby and a bay who needs cluster feeding?

A colic baby cannot be pacified with full feed. However, a baby requiring cluster feeding will be pacified during full feed sessions.

6. How to deal with it emotionally?

It is a promise it will eventually pass. But to prepare for it, a mother should get plenty of water, rest and nutrition beforehand.

* Involve parents and relatives for any help that a mother needs.
* Smoothening techniques can calm fussy times.
* Try to keep the baby in different positions, giving tummy massage every now and then.

Also Read: Why do babies cry? Come, let’s decode it

cluster feeding
Does you baby need to be breastfed in short intervals. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

7. How to manage cluster feeding?

* Keep large bottle with water and snacks near the mother for her to stay hydrated and nourished.
* Nursing area can be provided in front of television or audio books
* Sit on the floor or on a couch so that mother can engage the elder child, if needed.
* Mother can plan to express milk and feed the baby.
* Wrap the baby in a swaddle to recreate an experience of womb.
* Offer pacifier in worst conditions.
* Dim light and reduce other external stimuli.
* Seek medical help to track on growth and development to assure proper weight gain, and also, to ensure about adequate milk supply.

Cluster feeding does not indicate inadequate milk supply or the necessity of giving formula. Take help from a lactation consultant to manage any challenges that come with it.

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