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Dealing with cluster feeding can be hard. There is no question that as a new mom, you already find yourself emotionally vulnerable. Your hormones are all over the place, and you are still trying to wrap your mind around the miracle you hold in your arms.
But no amount of happiness can withstand a lack of sleep, which usually leads to bouts of depression. And seeing as you can’t avoid cluster feeding, why not prepare for it to the best of your ability? Because if you approach cluster feeding right, it really helps to keep your mind straight. Not to mention it helps you to physically prepare.
While you shouldn’t try to stop or prevent cluster feeding – here are my tips for how to deal with cluster feeding and cope without losing it emotionally and physically.
Set up a comfortable space
A good place to start would be setting up a designated area specifically for your comfort. Whether it’s in the bedroom or the living room in front of the big screen, it doesn’t matter. Remember that cluster feeding is a marathon, which means you’ll have time on your hands. Thus, you want to enjoy the area if you are going to spend a big part of the day there.
I also highly suggest thinking about the options below for extra comfort while breastfeeding and cluster feeding
- Bedside Bassinet – You can also get a bassinet for breastfeeding at night that allows you to breastfeed more easily during the night by having your baby next to your bed and within arms reach.
- Glider chair – Nursery room gliders and rockers are a great option for breastfeeding when your baby is in their own room. We recommend the Odelia swivel glider, check out our detailed odelia glider review
Feed in the late afternoon and early evening
Try to make sure you cluster feed in late afternoon and early evenings, and also ensure your baby getting full feeds in – at least 10 minutes for each breast when breastfeeding
Stay hydrated and healthy
Just like the baby needs to feed and stay healthy, you have to follow their example. In other words, keep water and liquids within close reach. This goes for snacks as well. Maintain your diet as best you can and adapt where possible. The easier you make it for yourself to eat and stay hydrated, the less frustrated you are going to be.
Get others to help by bottle feeding
Cluster feeding doesn’t necessarily mean the baby has to drink directly from your breast. A bottle can be used as a substitute, although you might need to use a breast pump in order to maintain milk production or use formula milk. But be careful of creating an oversupply. The point is that your spouse, partner, friend or family member can help out. This is also useful if your cluster feeding baby won’t latch. Just having the extra support can do wonders for coping. But you need to speak up when you feel things are getting too much. More importantly, allow your friends and family to form a support system.
Note: For newborns we suggest to rather breastfeed exclusively. Breastmilk has a lot of extra nutrients and antibodies needed. Introducing formula could also reduce your milk supply.
Keep yourself engaged and occupied
Keeping yourself distracted during cluster feeding sessions can be very helpful. Audiobooks, music, streaming movies, you can even choose to be productive if it doesn’t require you to move around. There are no rules that state cluster feeding has to be tedious and boring. Keep a positive state of mind, because your baby picks up on your emotional cues. And if you are happy and relaxed, you have a better chance of keeping baby relaxed and comfortable too.
It’s not about being energized
It’s a common belief that mom needs to be wide-awake and energized when baby wants to cluster feed. The truth is that you don’t. More energy helps you stay in a positive mood, and it is recommended to get as much rest as possible. But don’t put more pressure on yourself by thinking you need to be super-awake for cluster feeding sessions.
Sleep when baby sleeps
This is a basic tip that doesn’t just apply to cluster feeding. The reality is that newborn babies will have different sleep routines and habits. Predicting when and where they will get hungry just isn’t realistically possible. Hence the reason for resting your eyes while baby does the same.
Learn effective soothing techniques
One factor that makes cluster feeding such a draining experience has to be the moments between the actual feeding. When the baby keeps fussing and crying, it can be both unsettling and emotionally straining. But applying effective soothing techniques might have the positive effective you are looking for. For example, holding your baby close to your chest and swaying from side to side is an old favorite. But you can also check for other issues, like burping or a diaper change.