Why does my daughter not nurse well in the evenings?

Amanda - posted on 10/16/2012 ( 12 moms have responded )




My daughter is 5 weeks old and is exclusively breast fed. During the day, she nurses really well, stays latched the whole time, and stays on for a solid 10-20 minutes. She'll go 3-4 hours between feeds. But as the day goes on, she starts to nurse closer together and for shorter times, and by the night when it's close to bedtime, she'll nurse every hour and constantly unlatch and relatch while nursing. It's frustrating for me because she swallows more air by unlatching and relatching all the time, and that causes more burps and gas which makes her uncomfortable, not to mention nursing every hour is exhausting. She won't go to sleep for the evening until she's nice and full and happy, so it can take anywhere from 10p-12a to get her down. But when she finally is asleep for the night, she's going 5-6 hours now which is awesome, and she nurses just fine overnight. Any ideas on how to get her to nurse better in the evenings?

Some background info: I nurse fully on one breast per feeding to make sure she gets her balance of foremilk and hindmilk. I also used to have an overactive let down and nursing one side at a time has fixed that and stopped her from choking. I know my milk supply is just fine, so it's not because she isn't getting anything out.



Mary - posted on 10/19/2012




I just had another thought on why she might be unlatching and relatching, which I've seen with my daughter, in the light of you having overactive let-down. It could be that even with your management of nursing that's resolved the let-down issue, you may still have a pretty forceful milk-flow, and normally she can handle it, but when she is getting tired toward the end of the day, she is having more trouble handling it. (I had over-active let-down, as well, and I've resolved it by nursing only on one side during any period of wakefulness. If I mess up and give her the wrong side toward the end of the hour and a half she's awake, she has a lot more trouble, and will come on and off a lot like you described, and crying a lot.) So, maybe for one night, once she starts her cluster feeding you could try giving her the same side for two feedings in a row, and see if she handles the second feeding a little easier.

Lisa - posted on 10/19/2012




I also agree with Mary, try offering both breasts at bedtime, also do you have a bedtime routine for her? Do you feed her in the same place at bedtime that you do during the day? It could be something as simple as too much stimulation, eg she knows its bedtime and wants to go to sleep, but the noise from the tv is too distracting, we had that problem with my daughter to begin with. Started her on a proper routine and nursed her in her bedroom with a baby lullaby cd playing softly and it seemed to help. We noticed a similar thing with our son (now 10 weeks) so I nurse him in our bedroom before putting him down as he is a very noisy eater and I don't want to wake my daughter :-)

Lori - posted on 10/17/2012




I agree with Mary that it sounds pretty normal. Many babies cluster feed in the evening. This helps them fill up better so they can get a longer stretch of sleep. Which is exactly what your LO is doing.

It won't last forever, so just settle in, and count on your evenings being spent nursing your baby. I also agree with Mary's suggestion that it may be worth trying to offer both sides during those evening feeds. But I don't think it will prevent her from nursing more frequently in the evening than she does in the morning/afternoon.

Mary - posted on 10/16/2012




That's pretty normal. It's called cluster feeding, and is because the milk supply is lower in the evenings. You might try offering the second side in the evenings after she finishes the first. She may be doing the unlatching/relatching because she wants more milk. If your milk supply is low enough in the evenings (and I suspect it is, because of her unlatching & relatching), then foremilk imbalance won't be a problem for evening feedings. I'd try for a couple of days, and stop if the overactive let-down comes back.

She won't do this forever. I'm afraid I don't remember when it quit happening to me with my first baby, but with my second it seems to be stopping just this week (about 2 1/2 months).

Have you tried nursing laying down while she's doing this? That may keep her from coming on and off so much. It at least will help you not get so exhausted from nursing so much, hopefully. And, if you can resolve the unlatching/relatching problem, you can sit and read while she's nursing, and have a nice relaxing evening.


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Ivy - posted on 11/27/2012




My daughter did that too. I was feeding her done from one breast then switching. She would want to feed a lot it seemed. Then I was reading about sleep and breastfeeding. If you exclusively feed from one breast till l you think that breast is out of milk then offer the other, you're baby will be more satisfied. The first part of the milk us to quench the baby's thirst when they drink quickly. When the baby slows down, that's when the filling part of the milk drops for the baby. Since I started exclusively feeding one side at a tine, my daughter is happier and more settled.

Also it is best to have the baby's head higher than the stomach to prevent trapped wind. I noticed with both my babies that gas is worse at night, so I also give my baby gripe water. She hates it, but it brings up her burp. Sometimes she does adult burps. I also burp her about half way through the feed.

I hope she settles down soon.

Melinda - posted on 11/23/2012





You might check if your baby's tounge might be hindered even the slightest bit by the skin under the tounge. That was the case for me with my first child, and he struggled to nurse correctly from day one. The doctor did not know why my baby was not nursing correctly. I didn't know why either. After three weeks, a phone conversation with a lactation consultant, who was unavailable to meet in person, suggested I have the doctor look in his mouth at his tounge. Sure enough, he was tounge tied. But by three weeks, when it was discovered, he was learning to work with it and the doctor did not choose to clip the skin. This factor also contributed to lower milk supply because he got milk more slowly from the breast as his tounge could not work it correctly. He also nursed very slowly, sometimes for 25 to 40 minutes.

If I had it to do all over again, I would have requested the doctor to clip the skin and allow his tounge to move freely to nurse correctly. But it was my first baby, and I did not fully understand it as I do now. He grew up fine, despite being tonge tied, and is now 12 years old.

Also an overbite can hinder proper latching on too.

Best wishes to you and your baby,

Be blessed,

Melinda Weiser, BSW, QMRP


Ania - posted on 11/16/2012




it is normal and don't worry about milk supply, because ITIS COMPLETELY NORMAL you don't have to do anything it will pass on its own in the coming weeks

Beatrice - posted on 11/14/2012




This has been happening with each of my b/g twins! Here are some things I've tried:

* I've found that switching position sometimes helps ( I normally nurse tandem in the football position, but when they get like this, I try to switch the one who's struggling into a cradle hold).

*Also, I've found that firmly holding his/her head to the breast helps (not forcing, but firmly holding the head steady).

*Sometimes my son (especially) has to burp and that keeps him from being able to latch on. After I burp him, he often calms down afterward. Could also be gas that's distracting him, so I try to treat that if he doesn't get too upset. Gas and digestion issues, for my son, are best prevented, so I do a gas massage at least once a day (usually as part of our bedtime routine), but in the beginning, I would do it every time I changed his diaper.

*Sometimes, because they're tired, my husband and I just have to take one and hold them for a little while. Sometimes, they fall asleep and sometimes, they just gain a little strength and are ready to eat again in a little bit.

I would recommend that your bedtime routine start earlier. The books I have read all suggest around 7pm for bedtime and then baby sleeps 10-12 hours per night and should be taking 2-3 naps a day (each about 1 hour - although, I my breastfed babies tend to doze on the boob, so I would count that as well). Letting your LO sleep during the day actually helps them sleep better at night bc they are not overtired.


Mommy - posted on 10/23/2012




It sounds like she is cluster feeding. We have been trying to do that with my son because he is 9 weeks, weighs 12 pounds, and still wakes up every 3 hours. So we are offering him a feeding every hour between 6 and 9, and it has been helping him sleep longer at night.

Amanda - posted on 10/22/2012




Well these past 2 days have been successful with only one incidence of her having latch issues. I've switched to nursing from one breast for two feeds in a row, and it seems to be working. Thanks for all the help!

Amanda - posted on 10/19/2012




Hello. I'm familiar with cluster feeding, so it makes sense because I was forgetting that she's due for another growth spurt around 6 weeks. I guess where I'm still stumped is why she constantly unlatches in the evenings too--not just the frequency of feeding, but the poor quality of her feeding. She gets obviously agitated and will unlatch and rematch while she whines and kicks. I've switched back to giving her both breasts in the evenings, and it seems to have brought back my overactive letdown. I'm not sure which is worse, having my milk come out too fast and choking her, or too slow or not enough.

As for bedtime, yes we do have a routine. Around 8-9pm we either bathe her or lotion her, feed, and read stories. She doesn't usually go to sleep until 10:30 or so, but we're at least getting into the motions of a routine (we just started that a week or 2 ago now). We do that upstairs, dim the lights, and if we do turn the tv on, we keep it really low or on mute. I was using a lullaby CD, but it seemed to keep her up more than put her to sleep, so we stopped that.

Oh and last night I nursed laying down because I was so tired (she didn't go to sleep until 11:30). I don't do that often because I struggle getting her into the right position and my husband goes to sleep before us, so I have to keep a close eye on her when we're that way. Otherwise she lays on the boppy while she nurses.

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