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Cluster feeding in the evening - when does it end?!

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#1 Cluckyandhopeful

Posted 31 August 2014 - 08:09 PM

I have a 10 week old baby who is exclusively BF (sometimes I have had to top her up with formula in the evenings just to give my nipples a break!)

She cluster feeds from the late arvo until 9-10 pm and then FINALLY falls asleep at 10-11 pm.

My question is, when does the cluster feeding end??? I am so exhausted by the end of the day (I also have a 2.5 year old) and she goes to bed at 7.30-8 pm.

I also have nipple thrush which will NOT go away, so I'm going to see a specialist about that next week.

Is there anything I can do to encourage my DD to stop cluster feeding so much? I get a pretty good stretch of sleep (normally wakes at 3am for a feed and then again at 7am). I am desperate and can't take much more of this. I've tried giving her formula in the evening to try and stretch her out a bit but all she drinks is 30mls (which I have to force feed anyway). Then 5 minutes later, she's back on the boob again.

I know it's mostly comfort and she won't take a dummy. I'm open to any suggestions anyone might have??

She normally feeds very 2-3 hours during the day and I can barely stretch her to 2 hours some days.


#2 Let-it-go

Posted 31 August 2014 - 08:19 PM

I put up with it with Dd as she was my first.  With DS I cracked at 10 weeks and passed him over to DH with a 60ml bottle of formula.  It took an hr off the whole process and he slept longer too.

I don't really think you can change the cluster feeding - it is how they night feed in order to get that long stretch.  I always put up with it as I then got 7-10hrs straight stretch of sleep.

From memory it starts to even out at about 4-5mo and especially once they eat solids so it does go on a while (well mine did anyway).

It is hard to explain cluster feeding to people unless they have experienced.  It is an immensely draining few hours and means you can never go out in the evenings.  I might get in trouble for saying this, but formula was my saviour with DS.  And no it never affected his breast feeding during the day - he was happily breastfed until 10mo.

#3 IShallWearTinsel

Posted 31 August 2014 - 08:20 PM

Maybe offer more feeds in the day? My oldest fed at least every 2 hour until she was around 12 weeks. But slept through so I figured to get all her calories in the daytime

#4 IShallWearTinsel

Posted 31 August 2014 - 08:22 PM

Oh and baby wear. I had 2 x4yo to get to bed while DO fed from 6-11most nights, so I popped her in the sling while the 4yos ate/showered/stories

#5 lucky 2

Posted 01 September 2014 - 11:22 AM

This behaviour tends to peak at 6-8 weeks and slowly abates at around 3-4 months.
Was your baby born at term or a little early?
Ideally keep switching side to side (breasts) during those hours and how about putting her in a sling so you can do other things?
She might like that and increase the length of naps during that intense time?
The formula/bottle isn't meeting her needs, meaning that the unsettled period is usual and it's not that you don't have enough milk, though I understand when you described trying it "to give your nipples a break".
It helps the breasts to be very well emptied at least once in 24 hrs, this is a usual pattern and it speeds up milk production so it happens for a reason (even though it's exhausting!).
Some people will also try one of those mechanical swings so that baby is rocked and mum might be able to attend to other things, ie another child.
Also having an extra pair of arms can be good during that time, but usually the baby wants mum's arms (and breasts)!
Good luck!

#6 F.E.B.E

Posted 01 September 2014 - 11:34 AM

About 16 weeks for me, sorry!

#7 Sassenach2

Posted 01 September 2014 - 11:42 AM

Cluster feeding is a biological norm and babies have been doing it since Neanderthal man. The baby is keeping your supply going, by doing this and I think you just have to wear it, sorry. :sorry:

#8 bearosauraus

Posted 01 September 2014 - 11:49 AM

About 3 months for both of mine. I just set up camp on the couch and watched hubby do everything ;)

#9 F.E.B.E

Posted 01 September 2014 - 11:56 AM

I meant 16 weeks  not 16 months :)

#10 AllyK81

Posted 01 September 2014 - 12:09 PM

It stopped at about 10-12 weeks for us, but DS remained in a pattern of going to bed late until around 6 months.

I would put him in a sling, put a boob in his mouth and go for a walk. Often he would fall asleep at least for a little bit.

Ds did not take a dummy until 14 weeks so I hear your pain on that. He was a very sucky baby and would comfort suck on me for 4-5 hours a night before he decide to take the dummy.

It is exhausting. Hopefully it ends for you soon.

#11 Divine 37

Posted 01 September 2014 - 12:19 PM

For my youngest it was at about 9 weeks, I used a dummy once my nipples couldn't take it anymore. He pretty much fed from 4- up to 11.

#12 Hands Up

Posted 01 September 2014 - 06:21 PM

Ended at about the five week mark, when I introduced a formula top up..... I just couldn't take it. It only took 40 ml for him to pass out at that point. I made the decision to bottle feed EBM shortly thereafter.... as his feeds were taking forever and I was going mad. What would happen if your DH did the comforting and you go into another room as clearly then there are no boobs on offer?

#13 Guest_canadianmum_*

Posted 01 September 2014 - 06:40 PM

I work my day around it, it will settle, but it is your babies way of making you produce enough milk.

The rest will do you good too.

Mine usually had a better evening routine by 12 weeks.

You are doing a great job.

#14 Ianthe

Posted 01 September 2014 - 06:55 PM

I think with my second son at around 12 weeks. I loved the cluster feeding because it meant he would have a really decent sleep!

#15 Lil' Burrito

Posted 01 September 2014 - 07:41 PM

It's just coming to an end for me with DS, who is 12 weeks. Some nights he still throws in a few extra feeds before the late night feed, but it's let up a lot. Hang in there, you might see the light at the end of the tunnel soon!

I have a 2 year old as well. Lots of time in the sling, lots of watching from the couch as DP did everything. Another thing I did some nights was jump in the bath with DD after her dinner and feed him in there.

#16 F.E.B.E

Posted 01 September 2014 - 09:01 PM

Borrow a couple of series of a great TV show on DVD and make the most of it. It's a good excuse for your partner to take care of everything else so you can just sit back and concentrate on your #1 job right now.

I also used the sling a lot when I had a newborn + toddler.

#17 sophiasmum

Posted 02 September 2014 - 09:08 AM

It's a long time ago for me LOL but it stopped around the 3 mth mark for all of mine. But the cluster feeding never lasted as long as 10-11pm at night except for maybe a couple of occasions, NYE being the one that still stays in my mind with DD2. I'd cluster feed from around 4-5pm until 7pm then put to bed & she would wake again around 10pm for the next feed & back to bed.

#18 Natttmumm

Posted 02 September 2014 - 11:43 AM

I think you can handle cluster feeding a few ways. I found with DS I did feed a fair bit in the early evenings until around 11 weeks - e.g every 2 hours 3,5,7,9 - finally asleep around 10pm (i think) I remember doing a feed at 3pm, 5pm and 6pm - until 3 full meals were introduced at 6 mths. With each solid meal feeds fell away. so I got to dinner at 5pm, feed at 6pm and bed at 7pm by around 6 months  

With my other two kids they were FF so I couldnt really cluster feed them so I found other ways to settle them. One I just carried or pushed in the pram until rat hr was over,  the other had a dummy and a swing. She would sit in the swing wired awake and have her dummy.

You can either feed through it or you could set a time limit e.g only feed if its been 2 hours min from last feed - find other ways in between. Neither option is easy I know.

Newborns are often difficult in the evenings

#19 boysrbliss

Posted 04 September 2014 - 11:13 AM

My 4th baby is now 3 months old.  All were breastfed and all had one patch of cluster feeding in 24 hours at this young age - usually early evening. I agree that it's normal and builds up the supply during growth spurts.  It can also be exhausting for you and for bubs too so I want to acknowledge that.  I'm not saying your baby does, but my boys have a moderate degree of reflux and sometimes they would cluster feed to sooth themselves with their discomfort and so that they wouldn't keep feeding and make their reflux worse, I find some time in a carrier while I tend to his brothers will produce a good burp, some positting and then some relief and sleep. It also meets the need for closeness and comfort which cluster feeding often does too.

I also have really sore nipples which I never experienced before and came across a natural remedy which along with Lansinoh is working!  1 tsp of bicarb in 1 cup of water dabbed on the nipples after each feed, let it dry naturally, then Lansinoh.  It is a natural cure for thrush and is non-toxic for baby.

I think the kindest way for yourself and your baby is to let them take what they need and just go with the flow (so to speak). I don't think the formula sounds like it's working and isn't needed.  The feeds will stretch out and going through to 3 am is wonderful.  Remember you are doing a great job and only you can do it.

#20 Lou-bags

Posted 04 September 2014 - 11:53 AM

View PostIanthe, on 01 September 2014 - 06:55 PM, said:

I think with my second son at around 12 weeks. I loved the cluster feeding because it meant he would have a really decent sleep!

Me too!

My DS also started to slow down with the cluster feeding at around this point, from memory.

He also had a late bedtime of around 9.30pm until around 5 or 6 months or so. He would have a brief early evening nap though- 20 or so minutes somewhere between 6 and 7.30pm. I did try to encourage this to be bedtime, and resettle rather than getting him up after this nap. Pfft. He was having none of it!

#21 Iezze

Posted 04 September 2014 - 12:11 PM

Oh my gosh. My 13 wk old has cluster fed for the last two nights, 3-4 hours. After about 6 weeks of a consistent 8 pm bedtime and sleeping through the night, I am exhausted. I was spoilt for too long. Hopefully this is the 12 wk growth spurt!

Edited by Iezze, 04 September 2014 - 12:12 PM.

#22 Divine 37

Posted 04 September 2014 - 12:59 PM

So true lanthe, I remember as soon as he was down I would quickly lie down. I would usually get 5-6 hours rest.

He was my only cluster feeder so it was a bit if a shock for me (among many ;))

#23 lisajane666

Posted 07 September 2014 - 11:04 AM

My 4 week old DD is cluster feeding for 4-5 hours a night up to 11pm, I'm exhausted.  It wouldn't be so bad if she didn't pull off with my nipple still in her mouth, or scratch my nipple with her razor sharp nails or if she just stayed on.  I hope there isn't 8 more weeks of this.  OP feeling your pain :(

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