how to survive cluster feeding

Having a new baby is a very exciting time.  Everyone wants to come and see the new arrival.  They’re tinier than they will ever be, and they’re so sweet and peaceful. Newborns grow at a rapid rate, and all that growing requires a lot of food.  Oftentimes babies will eat and eat and eat! This can be quite daunting when you’re a new mom. My baby, Clark, cluster fed A LOT in the first few weeks, these tips are how I survived.

Enjoy it. 

They’re only going to be this little for a short time and your body probably needs the rest anyway. You just created a perfect, tiny human, you deserve a little break from running around and trying to check things off your to do list.  Cuddle your babe, stare at their perfect little face, and enjoy this season of your life instead of stressing.

Have snacks (granola bars, crackers, fruit, etc) and water on standby. 

Fill your nightstand or side table with easy to eat snacks and water bottles. Breastfeeding burns major calories and feeding back to back to back can completely wipe you out. Unless you’re already a pro at moving and nursing at the same time, it’s wise to have snacks and beverages within arms reach. 

Have Netflix and a charger or a really good book close by. 

Yes, your babe is adorable and you don’t want to be checked out the whole time you’re with them, but that doesn’t mean you need to stroke their head lovingly for five hours during a cluster feed.  Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, etc is a really great way to pass the time while tending to your little one. I was a little paranoid about having my baby hear some shows (like those with fight scenes, battles, etc) so I listened using airpods for those.  If you’re watching on a mobile device be sure to have a charger within arms reach, because you’re gonna need it. Books are also great options while cluster feeding. Bonus points for reading out loud to your baby! 

Make social calls.

I had so many people calling to see how we were doing it was overwhelming trying to get back to everyone between diaper changes and soothing a crying infant. When I started calling people back while nursing it relieved a lot of pressure. I didn’t feel like a flake ignoring people and it also really helped with the loneliness that can come with a cluster feed. When my baby fussed a little while I was on the call I found that my friends and family actually liked hearing the little guy. 

Learn to nurse lying down.

This is a lifesaver skill at night or for naps. I like to put a burp cloth under the baby’s head and partially under me to keep the sheets dry. I’d rather wash a burp cloth than have to remake my entire bed. Obviously take proper precautions if you’ll be co-sleeping or bed sharing.  Personally nursing while lying down has been a big reason Clark has been so easy for me. At times when I’m just too worn out to hold him and myself up, we do this. It feels super special too. 

Learn to nurse on the go. 

It takes a bit of practice to figure out how to walk around or baby wear while nursing but it’s definitely worth it.  Instead of having to choose between solitary confinement or getting things done while your baby cries, choose to nurse and move at the same time.  There are great tutorials online on how to wear your child while feeding them (link to official solly tutorial), and they’re definitely worth your time to check out. I found it easiest to nurse in a ring sling.  I feel covered up enough, it’s easy to adjust while wearing baby, and the baby is in a good position too. If I’m on the go, the ring sling is my go to.

Use a binky for comfort sucking.

I was very anti-pacifier in the beginning.  I didn’t even have any pacifiers until a couple weeks after my little was born.  My birth plan specifically said no pacifiers. I was so cautious of “nipple confusion” that I even hid the few bottles I had when my in-laws came over, “just in case”.  Well, after a couple weeks and a few days of cluster feeding I ordered some binkys on amazon and prayed I’d survive until they arrived. Let me tell you, they were a godsend, and my baby, Clark, definitely knew when he was getting milk or not and never had any problems nursing.  

Take a break. 

When your partner is home, know when you’ve reached your limit.  Have them take baby for awhile. Being able to shower or do something for yourself without listening to crying can be a luxury in the middle of a cluster feed.  A quick fifteen minute break really helped refresh me in the middle of a cluster.

Congratulations on the newest addition to your family.  You’ve got this mama! If you have any questions, please Ask a Bestie!  Similarly if you have any tips to add please send us a message, we’d love to hear from you!