While attempting to get my son to latch or pumping at 3 a.m. after waking up to an alarm, I remember glaring at my husband and his useless nipples. How dare you. Thus, I think it's important for new parents to know how dads can help with cluster feeding, because there is so much responsibility on mom alone, and she may be feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, emotional, angry, and frustrated. Or at the very least, angry at her partner for having useless man nipples. Obviously, dads can't offer to help feed the baby if they're exclusively breastfed, but there are some important ways dads can help moms feed a hungry baby.
For new parents-to-be who are trying to do all their research about breastfeeding before baby comes like I did, cluster feeding is also called bunch feeding, according to Kellymom, and it's when babies begin to have their feeding times closer together. Basically, you feel like your baby will never ever get full, and their fussiness makes you question your diet, whether they're getting enough milk, as well as question your sanity.
Thankfully, Tori Hamilton, an obstetrical nurse, IBCLC, and LLL leader, tells Romper, "Cluster feeding is completely normal and does not mean that you are not making enough milk. It often happens in the evenings when prolactin levels are lowest."
And for more good news that comes from cluster feeding, this behavior "often precedes a longer sleep stretch (we're talking four to five hours)," according to Hamilton. Hey, that's a lot of uninterrupted sleep when you have a newborn. "Think of it as your baby's way to efficiently build your supply while increasing maternal proximity," she says.
When can you expect cluster feeding to happen? Andrea Tran, a registered nurse and IBCLC says, "After the milk comes in, babies typically will have one or two cluster feeding periods a day. Late afternoon or early evening is a common time for it to occur. It seems to go away around three months, but may recur with a growth spurt."
Tran adds that the second night with your baby can be a little intense because your baby may want to feed constantly for hours. So partners, take a look at the way you can help during this intense time.