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We have a new baby (almost two weeks old). For the past 8-9 days she's had a habit of Breastfeeding every hour during the afternoons. She can spend 30mins feeding, then 30mins active and gurgling, then start crying for more.

Now, we've heard of cluster feeding and how its supposed to increase the milk supply but that seems to infer that the cluster feeding will stop after a short time, this isn't stopping. It seems to just be a body clock thing.

I wouldn't be so concerned but we also have a four year old and when I go back to work I can't see any physical way my wife will be able to spend so much time feeding. Bottom line is she'll end up bottle feeding (and feeling guilty about it) just to get everything done.

Can you think of any way to alter the baby's feeding habits and so avoid bottle feeding?

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Ah, someone else using "8-9 days" and "a short time" as mutually exclusive concepts. Good to know I'm not alone. –  deworde May 19 '12 at 22:33
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To address the last bit (how to do other things while breast feeding), many women are able to position a baby tightly in a sling while breast feeding and thus can move about the house rather than sitting or holding the baby the whole time. A La Leche League leader should be able to help if you don't know others who have used slings. –  half-integer fan Apr 11 '13 at 15:13
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10 Answers 10

It is the baby's first growth spurt. Major growth spurts occur at 2, 3, and 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months. They can last a little more than week (such as in your case). If a two week old baby is demanding the boob, it probably needs it.

However, there are babies who have trouble nursing and will keep on wanting the boob in attempt to get milk out. It IS possible that your baby has has a tongue-tie, which is making it difficult for him to get enough milk. Is your baby gaining enough weight? Does he/she have enough wet diapers?

If it is just the baby needing a lot of breast feeding, and your wife is unable to manage the four year old and the newborn (quite a challenge, really), she can try pumping. It can be a little less strenuous, especially when you will be there to help in the evenings.

There really isn't a way to alter a two week old baby's eating habits - it's not a habit, it's a need.

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This is very normal. As a mother who breast feeds my child does this as well, it is called cluster feeding. Although it can be very frustrating there really isn't much you can do about it. Usually once babies come out of the "newborn" stage, the cluster feedings stop. Although once in a while they can pop up when the infant is going through a growth spurt. My infant stopped cluster feeding around 4-6 weeks.

Cluster feeding, also called bunch feeding, is when babies space feeding closer together at certain times of the day and go longer between feedings at other times. This is very common, and often occurs in the evenings. It's often -but not always- followed by a longer sleep period than usual: baby may be "tanking up" before a long sleep. For example, your baby may nurse every hour (or even constantly) between 6 and 10 PM, then have a longish stretch of sleep at night - baby may even sleep all night.

Cluster feeding often coincides with your baby's fussy time. Baby will nurse a few minutes, pull off, fuss/cry, nurse a few minutes, pull off, fuss/cry... on and on... for hours. This can be VERY frustrating, and mom starts wondering if baby is getting enough milk, if something she is eating is bothering baby, if EVERYTHING she is doing is bothering baby... It can really ruin your confidence, particularly if there is someone else around asking the same questions (your mother, your husband, your mother-in-law).

This behavior is NORMAL! It has nothing to do with your breastmilk or your mothering. If baby is happy the rest of the day, and baby doesn't seem to be in pain (as with colic) during the fussy time - just keep trying to soothe your baby and don't beat yourself up about the cause. Let baby nurse as long and as often as he will. Recruit dad (or another helper) to bring you food/drink and fetch things (book/remote/phone/etc.) while you are nursing and holding baby.

http://www.kellymom.com/babyconcerns/fussy-evening.html

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+1 for citation. –  deworde May 19 '12 at 22:04
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She's probably into the first growth spurt already and as such is hungry all the time. It is, unfortunately harder on Mom if she's got a toddler around that also needs attention.

Try to keep up the feedings on demand as they are now; chances are they WILL taper off somewhat if it is a growth spurt. Otherwise, she might be nursing for comfort as well; has your wife considered wearing a sling so she can keep the baby with her while she does things around the house, etc? I hate to recommend a pacifier so soon because you don't want the baby getting nipple confusion, but that might keep her occupied for a bit so your wife can do other things around he house.

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This will pass, a two week old baby's feeding habits are no where like that of even a 6 week old baby's feeding habits. Growth spurts (also known as 'freqency days') occur at around 2 weeks, 4 weeks, and 6 weeks, but even then, it's the first growth spurt that is the hardest on mom (and dad, and siblings). Continue to offer the breast whenever baby shows hunger cues, but also use 'breast compresstion' squeezing the breast slightly when baby's suck-suck-swallow pattern slows down. This will increase the flow of milk, and give baby more milk per breast, and keep her interested as the fatty hind-milk comes (often, as the milk flow slows down a bit, baby either comes off the breast due to a lack of flow, or can fall asleep on the breast). Look up Jack Newman's site for help with breast compression techniqe. Also, if your wife is feeling really exhausted, look for some good help; an IBCLC (board certified lactation consultant) or a La Leche League leader will often come to the house to make sure baby is latching well, and getting as much milk as possible during each feeding. Remember, this will pass, unless baby is not pooping and peeing as much as it should be right now, baby is getting enough milk, just taking long to do so. Supplementing with formula will definately add to your wife's frustrations, since evey ounce of formula baby drinks will tell her body to make less milk for baby through this growoth spurt. Good luck, and continue supporting your wife (and giving extra love to your toddler)

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Is your wife eating enough calories to make milk?

This is normal behavior of a newborn. She is just prepping Mommy's body for milk. My baby (now 3.5 mos) used to feed for 1.5 hours when she was under a month old! We had latch issues and called a consultant who classified her as a high-needs baby. She likes to be held a lot. By Day 15, everything got easier. I really think a hormonal thing occurred with me because that day felt so amazing. My "blues" disappeared and my appetite came back. I think MY issue was that I wasn't eating enough to make milk and my daughter was always hungry as a result. Pre-pregnancy I ate 3 meals a day, snacked 2x. After labor, I ate 2 meals a day. So you might want to check that.

Breastfeeding is a Lifestyle Choice

We exclusively breastfeed our baby. It's REALLY easy to quit those first 2 weeks. If my husband relaxed about it even just a little, I think we wouldn't be doing it anymore. When I'd complain, he'd just listen and tell me that I'm doing a great job. He wouldn't hint at letting me off the hook. It was such a frustrating time. I've gotten used to it now. They say you shouldn't bottle feed for fear of "nipple confusion" before 6 weeks old. We've bottle-fed our babe 6-7 times before a month old and she never got confused. If your wife breastfeeds a majority of the time, the baby will not get confused. Keep supporting your wife and let her know that you are there to help. You can also feed the baby breastmilk via dropper or spoon feed to give your wife a break.

The Babywise Method by Gary Ezzo for scheduled feedings and sleeping

I have not tried this personally because I had bought enough baby books that I never ended up reading :) So baby and I are attached to the teet but I digress.

A friend of mine and his wife had much success with this method. It's a flexible schedule for feeding and eating. There is a lot of criticism out there for it but make your own opinion and see if it fits your lifestyle. So long as baby has enough poopy and wet diapers, she is getting enough nutrients.

Keep in mind that the younger they are, the smaller their stomachs are so they get full and hungry faster. Good luck!

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This will pass soon enough. In the meantime I would recommend that your wife relaxes her standards about what needs to be done. Four year olds are pretty capable of taking care about a lot of things themselves and in the worst case scenario there is always a TV.

You could also help by taking care of things: cooking, doing the dishes, laundry, etc. so your wife can concentrate on the kids.

There are a lot of slings on the market right now which make nursing possible while doing other stuff. Not everybody feels comfortable using them but this is an option.

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I thought I was reading my own personal story, what I did is supplement with formula, twice a day, once in the evening(2 oz) and another 2 oz before sleeping, to give me a break, my milk is good and my milk supply too cause I always give the breast first as a normal feeding and then the formula so I can have time for me and for my toddlers. If he is not sleeping through the night you can help her with 2 oz after a feeding so she can sleep a little. I've been doing that since 2 weeks and doing the same now at 6 weeks old. He sleeps now 7 to 8 hours at night.

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The four year old is old enough to understand the whole "mommy is feeding the baby" thing. S/He'll get used to having to occupy him/herself while mom meets the babies' needs. Also, she could have him/her sit on her lap and read him/her a story while she nurses. We've got a 3yo, and an 11mo, and the 3yo doesn't always like not getting attention during cluster feeds, but he just had to learn to deal with it (he was only 2 and a few months with our second was born). Try to prepare an activity ahead of time and then make sure to pay special attention to the older one at a different time of the day (since the little one gets their own special time during afternoons). Worst case scenario on an especially bad day there's always the ole TV (Don't be too hard on yourself if once a week or so you have to use the TV as a distraction during the afternoons, just make sure the TV is off most of the rest of the day so that when it's on it's actually a treat and a distraction).

If you try and space out the feedings or change the 2wo's eating habits, you're just asking to end up with a FF baby...

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Can you have an experienced nurse check mother to see if baby is latching properly. There could be a problem with tongue-tie which can be rectified quickly and baby back feeding within 5mins of a small op.
Check mother is drinking at least 4litres of water per 24hours, and eating lots of protein and vegetables. 4-5 small meals a day and snacking healthily at night for energy. Mother burns 500 calories per feed, just feeding baby. Maybe baby is not getting enough milk. If there is a gurgling sound from baby, then it could be wind that needs to come up. Baby should feed on one side until it starts to fuss around. (the breast is then empty or baby has wind) Change baby's nappy and put baby on the other breast. Baby should be feeding -from the start of one feed, to the start of the next feed- every 2.5 - 3.00hours. Active feeding, when you can hear baby swallowing, should be about 15-20mins on one breast and about the same on the other breast. Mother has to concentrate her listening skills as the sound of swallowing is very quiet.

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While this is true for some babies, my experience and the experience of many other mothers is that newborns nurse every 2 hours or so and more frequently during a growth spurt. I also know that many newborns will actively suck for longer than 15-20 minutes a side. During the newborn phase it is so important for the nursing relationship to follow the infant's lead. The time for a more parent-directed schedule is, in my opinion and that of many other successful nursing mothers, after the newborn phase has ended. –  justkt Apr 11 '13 at 15:10
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I wonder how you know that every time she cries she is hungry. Try a cycle like this: Eat, Play, Sleep. Keep to the schedule for your daughter and you will know when she is hungry and when she wants something else.

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