Since mothers have been breastfeeding since the beginning of time, you'd think the process would be pretty simple. Unfortunately, mothers everywhere are still trying to figure it all out. With no formula to measure and no empty bottles to wash, it can be tough to know if your baby is getting enough milk. And if it seems like baby is constantly attached to your breast, you may think you're doing something wrong. The idea of longer, more frequent nursing sessions may make you cringe, but there really are some really good reasons to try cluster feeding.
Cluster feeding happens when a breastfed baby wants to be fed more often within a short period of time, according to the Lansinoh blog. Rather than feeding every two to three hours, a cluster fed infant will look to nurse every hour or for an extended period of time, according to Momtastic. When it seems like your baby is eating nonstop, your first instinct may be to worry, but cluster feeding is perfectly normal. According to Today's Parent, babies know when they're hungry and exactly how much milk they need.
Cluster feeding is most common in the first few weeks of life, but you may find that your baby will cluster feed again during growth spurts and other developmental milestones, as Care.com mentioned.
These seemingly endless nursing sessions can be demanding, but there are things you can do to make things a little more manageable. Seek help from your partner with some of your normal household responsibilities and use the time when baby sleeps to rest or tackle some of the items on your to-do list. But most importantly, you should cut yourself a little slack and enjoy the time with your baby. Save this list of reasons in favor of cluster feeding for your next marathon nursing session. You'll be glad you did.
1You Can Make More Milk
If you need help boosting your milk supply, cluster feeding can help. The amount of milk you produce is in direct correlation to the amount of milk your baby consumes, as Kelly Mom explained. Additionally, Momtastic noted that cluster feedings can stimulate the breasts to make more milk.
2Your Baby May Sleep Longer At Night
If you have a newborn, you'll do just about anything (within reason, of course) to get your baby to sleep just a little bit longer. Cluster feeding may help baby feel fuller longer and sleep longer stretches during the night, according to Momtastic.
3You Get More Time To Bond
The physical contact between mother and baby during a nursing session is just as important as the nutritional value of your breast milk. According to Today's Parent, some babies cluster feed at times when they need comfort. Those nursing sessions give you and your little one some quality one-on-one time together.
4You Have An Excuse Veg Out
Now that you're a mom, it's easy to feel guilty about doing anything enjoyable for yourself. If you're cluster feeding, you can feel better about vegging out, because you're actually multitasking. Use the extended feeding time to watch your favorite trashy television show, read a book, or giggle with a friend on the phone.
5You Can Delegate
The dishes and the laundry may pile up while you're breastfeeding. Don't be shy about delegating household responsibilities to your partner, as Babble suggested. After all, you're doing some pretty important work yourself.