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Cluster Feeding

If your baby wants to nurse constantly, for prolonged periods of time and/or with short intervals, it means she is working very hard and not getting much milk. This type of feeding is often referred to as cluster feeding. It means there is a mismatch between what your baby needs and what she is getting, so she is working very hard for little food.

Although cluster feeding is common, it is not normal and does not mean your baby is going through a growth spurt. It means that either your supply is low or your baby cannot transfer milk or both. The sooner the issue is addressed, either with positioning, supplementation, pumping or intervention, the better.

If you continue to nurse constantly and for long periods of time without complete emptying, it can negatively impact your milk supply. Lactating breasts will fill based on how they are emptied. They will produce the maximal amount of milk if they are emptied quickly and completely and allowed 2-3 hours to fill up again. If you nurse constantly and only a little milk is removed, your breasts will not fill up and your supply overall can diminish. If your baby is struggling to remove milk from your breasts, you should limit nursing to 10 minutes on each side and then pump your breasts for 5-10 minutes on each side. You can either feed the pumped milk to your baby (if there is any remaining in your breasts) or supplement with formula. This will keep your supply going down and allow your baby much needed rest and nutrition.