6 Ways to Handle Your Newborn Constantly Feeding

A newborn constantly feeding can leave you exhausted. Here’s how to handle those frequent clusters, especially when you’re breastfeeding.

Newborn Constantly Feeding

I just about had it.

The sore nipples from a bad latch, the cluster-feeding sessions, the leaking. I felt glued to my baby and shot dagger eyes at anyone who suggested feeding him the second he’d fuss.

And that was just the first five days of breastfeeding.

If you can relate, you’re not alone.

I don’t blame you if you feel exhausted and even—let’s be honest here—resentful of being the only one able to feed your baby. I totally understand the feeling of being tied down and the lack of freedom that constant feeding can bring.

So, here are a few practical ways to cope with these cluster feedings:

1. Empty each breast

Breastmilk comes in stages. During the first few minutes, your newborn is drinking the fore milk (or the lighter, more watery part of the milk). Afterward, she drinks the hind milk (the fattier, more filling part).

If she’s only nursing a few minutes on each side, she might not be getting the hind milk, making her hungrier sooner than later.

Instead, make sure she’s emptying the entire breast so she gets both kinds of milk from each side. This will help fill her up so she’s able to go longer between feeds.

A simple way to make sure she empties the breast? Don’t let her sleep on the job. Feed her after she wakes up, not before she’s about to sleep, so that she doesn’t doze off during a feeding.

Besides making sure she’s emptying the breast completely, offer her both of them as well. That way, not only is she getting both kinds of milk, but she’s also getting double the serving.

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2. Burp between switching sides

Do you find that your baby fusses during feedings, cutting them short? She could be uncomfortable from taking in gas while she eats.

One simple way to eliminate gas is to burp her between switching sides. Simply hold her upright and allow gas to escape as well as the food to digest down. Not only are you helping her release gas, but you’re also holding her upright, which can prevent spitting up food.

3. Watch for excessive spit-up

Your newborn could also be extra hungry if she’s not actually taking in the food she has just eaten. In other words, she’s spitting the food right back up.

Make sure you’re also holding her at an angle when you breastfeed to prevent her from feeding flat on her back. Holding her upright (especially after a feeding) can help avoid excess spit-up.

Lastly, talk to her pediatrician to discuss issues that can help her stop spitting up so much.

4. Note weight gain and wet diapers

One way your baby’s pediatrician can check that all is fine is by making sure she’s gaining the weight she’s supposed to. If you feel like your baby is still not satisfied despite frequent feedings, have the doctor check her weight gain.

You’ll also want to pay attention to how many wet diapers your baby goes through. While weight gain is a better gauge of how well she’s feeding, seeing enough wet diapers can also reassure you that she is, in fact, taking in the milk.

Baby Never Satisfied After Breastfeeding

5. Feed on demand

The newborn stage isn’t the time for a strict feeding schedule. This is when your baby can take a five-hour nap, only to take a 20-minute one next. And the same is true for when and how long she sleeps as well.

Sure, she might cry because of a soiled diaper or uncomfortable pajamas, but more often than not, hunger is the likely cause. Breastmilk in particular digests easily, which means she can be hungrier earlier than formula-fed babies.

And don’t worry that you’re setting her up with “bad habits” by feeding her when she’s hungry. Feeding on demand doesn’t mean she’ll always expect to eat frequently. Instead, she’ll eventually develop her own routine and flow, especially the larger her stomach gets (and the more food she can take).

For now, feed her when she’s hungry, knowing that this is a temporary and important stage in her growth. She knows what her body needs, and this is her way of letting you know she needs to eat.

6. Find a comfortable feeding position

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While you can’t control how often your newborn feeds, you can control how comfortable and convenient you make these feedings. Sometimes we feel “stuck” in our positions, unable to move around like the rest of the family, making us even more frustrated.

Start by using a good feeding pillow and sitting with good back support. Keep often-used items within arm’s reach, from your phone to your water bottle. Use it as an opportunity to watch a movie, listen to a podcast, or talk to a friend.

And create several feeding stations throughout the house. That way, you won’t feel alone and isolated in, say, your bedroom, while everyone else is enjoying dinner on the other side of the house.

Conclusion

Despite the first few days and weeks, breastfeeding does get easier and less frequent. Your baby won’t cluster feed all night as she does now.

Still, in the meantime, you can make this stage as easy and smooth as possible. Make sure she’s emptying each breast so she’s getting both kinds of breast milk (as well as emptying both breasts). Burp between switching sides so she doesn’t fuss because of gas and digestive issues.

Watch for excessive spit-up so you know she’s keeping her food in. Pay attention to how many wet diapers she goes through, and confirm with the pediatrician that she’s gaining enough weight. Feed when she’s hungry, not from a set schedule.

And finally, find a comfortable feeding station (or a few) so that you’re as comfortable and content as possible.

Don’t worry, friend. She won’t always feed this frequently—even if you’re just five days in and ready to throw in the towel.

Newborn Cluster Feeding All Night

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