Do you worry about whether you are making enough breastmilk? Does your baby seem to feed constantly during certain times of the day? You are probably doing just fine, but let’s evaluate the situation objectively.
Constant or near constant feeding at certain times of the day is normal. So-called cluster feeding often occurs in the evening hours. Just because it’s normal doesn’t mean it’s easy. Your baby may also fuss more than usual during this time and latch and unlatch frequently.
Cluster feeding may make you worry that your baby is upset because you are not making enough breastmilk. You may start to think you should supplement with formula to make sure your baby is eating enough.
Remember, breastfeeding is a process of demand and supply. These cluster feedings will help your body regulate its supply. Interfering with this process only leads to problems in the future.
Here’s a common example. Baby cluster feeds and a well intentioned caregiver supplements with formula. This supplementation causes baby to breastfeed less, which then reduces mom’s natural supply. It’s a circular relationship.
Before you supplement feed, consider a few things. Is your baby putting on weight normally? Is your baby happy or content during other parts of the day? Besides being fussy, does your baby seem physically okay (i.e. not in physical pain)? If so, keep these temporary times in perspective with your baby’s overall behavior.
When in doubt reach out! Find support to help you through this sometimes emotional time. Whether you find support online or in person, make sure your source is knowledgeable about breastfeeding and can help you remain objective.
Some resources may include a local hospital for breastfeeding clinics, a lactation consultant, a postpartum doula, a local La Leche League for one on one support or group meetings, and your breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician or nurse.