Baby · breastfeeding · Lifestyle

How I dealt with Cluster feeding – Including at night!

When O was first-born he slept beautifully, woke at about 1am, 4am and 7am for little feeds and basically went straight back to sleep each time. Not too bad for me, I could deal with waking up every 3 hours or so to feed and then go back to sleep. Unfortunately this didn’t last for long…. by the time he was about 4 days old he was waking every 10 mins or so wanting to feed and these feeds lasted for at least 30 mins sometimes up to an hour!

Being new parents myself and J started to get a bit worried, was this normal? Was I producing enough milk? Did we need to use formula or top him up before sleep? We already had to deal with a very poor latch and had to use nipple shields to help O latch and feed correctly. Luckily we had a great support network of health visitors and midwives who reassured us that this was completely normal for a new born and don’t worry it only lasts for the first 4 – 6 weeks (WHAT?! 4-6 weeks of NO sleep?!) .

I did some research online and learnt about the term ‘cluster feeding’ It is when a baby feeds a lot in a short space of time, it normally happens during ‘growth spurts’.  It was also O’s way of making sure that my milk supply was suited to him, the more he drunk the more I produced for him. As long as he wasn’t fussing a lot or crying / in pain it should mean my milk supply was fine, I also had a very full feeling most of the time.

After reassuring ourselves that this was quite normal and realising that we didn’t need to supplement his feeds (formula fed babies quite often cluster feed too), we had a chat together about how to deal with the situation as neither of us were getting any sleep which was no fun!   We thought about trying to express some milk so that J could feed him while I slept, but the amount that O was feeding meant we couldn’t express (he is now 8 weeks old and we have managed to only express about 4 bottles!). In the end I had  to admit defeat and realise that I would not be getting a lot of sleep for the next few weeks!

The first few days were REALLY tough, I was getting 10 mins or so every night ( I was a zombie!) We decided that it was important for one of us to get sleep so in the end J stayed in the bed while I went downstairs and camped out on the sofa (don’t worry it was my idea to go on the sofa as I was not very comfortable sitting up in bed after labour and found it much easier on our corner sofa propped up with loads of cushions!). We decided that it was important for J to sleep as he could then function during the day for both of us and cook meals, clean, drive us around etc. After a couple of nights J and i swapped places so O and I got the bed 🙂 poor daddy was on the sofa!

After 2 nights I realised that I needed to get myself organised and create some ‘Mummy Baskets’. After I had created these I felt so much better! Here is a list of the bits I had in them…

Mummy Baskets x 2 – One kept on the sofa and one kept by the bed

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  • Nipple shields – I had to use for O to latch but you may find them useful if constant feeding hurts you!
  • Nipple cream – Well because OUCH!
  • Breast pads – They will probably leak a lot at first as your milk supply will be high in the first few weeks especially if you have a cluster feeder!
  • Cereal bars / snacks  – To keep your energy up during the night – try not to buy sugary ones as they will give you a sugar high which will then give you a crash and you will feel more tired.
  • Water! – A definite must have during breast-feeding, it is very important to keep Mummy well hydrated. I had a cup with a lid and straw and a few bottles just in case (J always made sure they were full up before he went to bed)
  • A couple of Muslin cloths – to clear up any milk / baby sick (lovely at 3 am!)
  • Remote for the T.V
  • Xbox controller – to access Netflix! ( I have never watched soooo many films or series’ Chuck was very good!)
  • Home phone – Just in case some one called me and I was unable to move
  • Hudl tablet – If I was upstairs I might use this to watch netflix if J was asleep in case the light / sound woke him up or I used it to surf the internet 🙂
  • Ear phones for the Hudl / Phone
  • Audio books on my phone
  • Magazines to read
  • Blanket – For when O fell asleep for a few mins!
  • Charger – For Hudl and Phone – luckily mine have the same charger!
  • Paracetamol – For me as I still had after birth pains in my stomach / ribs
  • Mr Bunny – Teddy to entertain O during waking and non feeding times
  • My phone – To contact J if I needed something and was down stairs, to listen to Audio books, to contact the outside world via text 🙂
  • Vaseline – for dry lips
  • Hair brush – possibly make me feel human again!
  • Tissue – well…for blowing my nose or wiping away tired tears!!

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Now these baskets I didn’t just use at night I used them during the day too mainly when J went back to work. They really were a God send as I didn’t have J to be at our beck and call constantly.

Luckily the night-time cluster feeding did only last about 4 weeks and then O started to sleep for longer stretches. I personally also think Co-Sleeping ( please click here for safe sleep guide lines – don’t forget to do A LOT of research before co-sleeping) helped us as it meant 1- we could all sleep in the bed together and 2 – O and I could sleep and feed at the same time. This was a lot easier once we had weaned off the nipple shields (trying to find the silly things at night was not fun!). At 8 weeks O now sleep feeds at about 4 and 7 am  – I am awake as some one is hitting me in their sleep trying to work out where the milk has gone but he is blissfully snoring still! But I am sleeping from about 11 pm through to 8am ish with just two waking sessions so we have a lot happier Mummy!

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Another handy tip is to make your lunch the night before and put it in the fridge I was very lucky and J made me a packed lunch every night ready for the next day ( I was very lucky!)

Good luck and keep going Mummies reading this and still Breast feeding – you are ding SO well!

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