Cluster Feeding - not enough milk for feedings ?

Kelly - posted on 01/31/2009 ( 10 moms have responded )

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My daughter is 7 weeks old - I am exclusively breast feeding and she is doing awesome- weight gain not an issue. I am trying to pump whenever possible to build up a supply for when I go back to work in a few weeks. The problem I am noticing is that she is VERY fussy in the evenings until about midnight and seems to want to feed constantly - the problem is that I feel like I may not be producing enough milk in the evenings and it becomes a vicious cycle - she doesn't get enough and then wants more 1 1/2 hours later - but at that point, my breasts do not have enough time to fill. During the first part of the day, my breasts feel full and I can hear her gulping but in the evenings, my breasts are soft and almost limp and there doesn't seem to be a let down to fill her. I don't understand because I thought the more you feed the more you will produce - this has been going on for a couple of weeks but I still do not seem to produce more during the evening hours. After the first minute or 2 she starts to pull and jerk her head back and stretch my nipple out like she's trying to get more out. Oh, when I pump I can always get at least an ounce out of each breast in a matter of 3-4 minutes even if I have just fed her. If I have not fed her for 3 hours or so, I can get almost 2 ounces out of each breast in a matter of like 3 minutes. I have started to be afraid to pump because I am afraid she will get hungry too soon and then I won't have anything left to feed her. Help - I just need to know how to get some kind of a routine, she is still so inconsistent with how long she goes between feedings. Also, I think the problem is that she is still day/night reversed- she sleeps great during the day and can go at least 3 1/2 hours between feedings, I make sure I wake her and feed her every 3 1/2 to 4 hours, but sometimes I know she would go 5 hours if I did not wake her - how do you keep a baby awake ? She will not sleep at ALL between the hours of 6-7 pm and midnight or 1 am. Help !!! Sorry this is so long ..

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[deleted account]

Unlike you I had other milk supply issues - but when they were sorted out my daughter behaved the same in the evenings- except she used to pound her little fist on my breast to make the milk come. Just let her keep nursing. It takes a while for your body to recognize to make more milk. I eventually just let my little one just hang out on the breast for as long as she wanted. But it does take a while for your body to sort itself out into a milk making routine and to know to keep making milk for the nightime hours after nursing ALL day. One thing I would do is sneak a quick warm shower right before her evening cluster feed and I would put warm wash cloths on my breast - anything to help right. Good luck.

Christa - posted on 02/04/2009

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It's so frustrating - I remember that. Both of my boys were like that, but it does get better. As long as she is gaining weight and has enough wet/dirty diapers, she's fine. Feeding every hour and 1/2 is still very normal at this time. You could try to offer her every 2 - 2.5 hours during the day and see what happens. I always felt like it was a sick joke that my guys were starving at the end of the day when I was trying to get dinner on and relax a bit. Like I said though - it's normal. It should pass over the next month or so. I would hold off on the pumping in the evenings for now and just let her set your supply for what she needs in the evening. Moms are also more tired in the evening and I've noticed that letdown can take a bit longer. Maybe pump a bit so you're about to have a let down right before she latches. Then she won't tug at your breast. Or you can massage or use a warm wash cloth before she nurses. Also - if it's possible - try to be in a quiet place and relax when she nurses - that usually helps with let down too. How does she do during the night? I alway felt like (with my first) that yeah - he would feeding frenzy for most of the evening, but then he would sleep 4-5 hour stretches at night. It felt like that was a good trade off. You get a good amount when you pump, and remember that a baby can always get more from your breast than a pump can. Volume isn't as much of an issue as is her signs that she's getting enough. The composition of your milk changes throughout the day as well as along with her development to give her what she needs. I know it seems like wanting to nurse that often means you don't have enough milk, but as long as she's showing the signs that she is getting enough, this is just a normal part of beastfeeding. It is frustrating, but try to go with it and know that in the big scheme it doesn't last for very long, and you are giving her an amazing gift.

Kelly - posted on 02/11/2009

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That is so funny - mine was pounding her little fists too - it is actually so cute that they have these little personalities and emotions already !!

Kelly - posted on 02/06/2009

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All of the responses made me feel much better ! It is so funny though how within 1 week everything changes so quickly- she is now not on as much of a feeding frenzy in the evenings. To Angela, mine also fell asleep within 5 minutes at first - it really is frustrating but as long as the baby is gaining weight try not to worry - other than the fact that it is so demanding on you to have to worry. No matter what anyone says, it is impossible to wake the baby up to make them feed more, they just keep falling back asleep. I have had to adjust to this by only feeding off one breast at a time and pump the other breast to even out. My daughter seemed to get full very quickly and could only handle 1 breast for a few minutes. The times she had more, she ended up throwing all of it up because it was too much ! One of the nurses in the hosp. told me that the baby gets everything they need at this age within 7 minutes and that you don't need to go any longer than that - if that is true your baby is getting 5 minutes which is pretty good. Don't worry. at the early stages, these "habits" don't last long - my daughter's habits change on a daily basis - at 8 weeks there is still absolutely no consistent schedule with eating or sleeping.

Patty - posted on 02/04/2009

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I had the same thing . now i give her something to get busy with and let her xplore some then when i am ready for her that is the time...I gave her solid food mashed homemade food and it lessen the demand from u... best of luck!!!

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Kelly - posted on 02/06/2009

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Thanks Christa - your reply was very helpful and made me feel less stressed

Angela - posted on 02/04/2009

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My little guy is 2 weeks old... cluster feeding at nite also, it's all good, however my frustration goes with him fussing to feed, he gets latched and feeds 5 min then passes out cold.. it'd be one thing if it was a long feed but its brutal when he's only awake for 5 min then sleeps for 15-20 min then wants to do it all again...



and its not surprising sleep deprivation happens...



In the end its all worth it, I couldn't be more thrilled to have him  :)

Dara - posted on 02/04/2009

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Hi - I sympathize with you!  My baby also cluster feeds at night, inconveniently when a Mom's milk production is lower, AND there's chores to be done and dinner to be prepared.  My best advice is to work around it, if you can.  Make dinner earlier, have someone else bounce the baby for a few minutes to distract the baby and give you a break.  Plus, babies just get fussy at night, no matter how much milk or attention you give to them.



Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn't, but try putting the baby in a sling or carrier and hopping around a bit while you do the chores.

Shannon - posted on 02/04/2009

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My son did the same thing, he is now 5.5 months and has just started nursing at 1030 pm and sleeping till atleast 4 am without needing to eat again! It has nothing to do with your supply, it really is just her way of making sure she is good an full and she may be havinga growth spurt a bit right now as well.

As far as pumping... I couldn't do much at that age.... I started pumping with my manual pump on the opposite side he nursed on for about two weeks. Barely got anything, but I would put it in the fridge, cool it down and add to it as each new batch cooled off till I hit 4oz and then put it in the freezer to start building my stash. By the time he was 10 weeks, he nursed at a more set schedule, and I was able to actually pump only twice a day.

I no longer keep a stash really on hand. He is 5.5 months now, and I keep about 5 4oz bags in the freezer at a time, and pump atleast 12 oz a day for while I am at work, we now supplement with some formula if he needs more than the two bottles I kleave each day.



Good luck to you!

[deleted account]

This is very normal for this part of the day.  Many women have lower milk supply in the evening but also - babies tend to clusterfeed in the evenings.  This is also a growth period for her so she could just want to feed more because of that.  I remember the EXACT same thing you are going through.  My daughter did this for about the first 3 months and then seemed to stretch out the nighttime feedings and had a more "normal" nighttime routine.  Just let her nurse and take  abreak if your boobs get tired.  It will all work itself out.  SHe knows what she needs...even if she doesn't have the words to tell you.



Best of luck!

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