September 01, 2008,
A.W. asks from Billings, MT on August 27, 2008
5 Week Old Nurses for Hours at a Time
I was wondering if anyone has ever heard of this or gone through it themselves. My 5 week old son will nurse for 4-6 hours sometimes. My lactation consultant thinks he's cluster feeding, which is when an infant will feed very frequently....Its not a milk supply issue, we've checked and he's getting plenty. My husband and I have tried EVERYTHING to comfort him, pacifiers, swings, swaddling, etc.! He will cry until he get's the breast. He's not eating the whole time, but soothing himself. From the research I've done, it seems like he's going through growth spurts and just needs moms breast. According to some people, it will pass when he's around 6-8 weeks old. Soon I will be going back to work 3 days a week and am nervous about how he will do during those times. It's very random when he goes through these moments, sometimes mornings and other times it's during the night. Also, it makes it hard to go anywhere other than home. Any advice will help.
J.W. answers from Pueblo on August 27, 2008
Your little one is what Dr. Sears refers to as a high needs baby. (www.askdrsears.com)
My daughter was this way when she turned 2 weeks and became colicky. She would FINALLY calm down and begin to nurse for hours.
My son was like this from birth. He loved to nurse forever - especially in the evening. It does not last very long. At a few months, he started putting himself on his own schedule. I find when he is having a growth spurt, he nurses more at night. It does get better - now he nurses for 10-15 minutes throughout the day.
It was a great bonding experience, but I know it can get tedious. Keep your chin up. Just remember they are only little once!
1 mom found this helpful
S.M. answers from Casper on August 28, 2008
My son did nurse a long time, but I don't think I ever let him go that long. The first time he nursed was about 45 minutes because I wasn't sure if he was getting anything. He certainly was. Go with your gut instinct or pray if you're religious.
Try giving him full body massages when he's not nursing. Rub with the 'grain' of his muscle, if that makes sense, down his arms, legs, tummy and back. If you do a light touch for a long time, that may help his growing muscles, and give him the physical touch that he craves, hopefully decreasing his need for the breast, we hope.
H.W. answers from Denver on September 01, 2008
Hopefully things are going a little better for you. Regardless, you might find a sling helpful, as it keeps baby close to you, which it sounds like your son craves. My son loved, and still loves, being close to my husband and I.
N.D. answers from Denver on August 30, 2008
Oh how I miss cluster feedings. I know it seems horrible now but you'll look back on it fondly :) Is it always at the same time of day? Could he be overly tired? Unfortunately the answer, as with most parenting thins, is "this too shall pass"! Best of luck!
A.G. answers from Pocatello on August 28, 2008
My daughter did the same thing. I remember thinking, "Is this my life now? Sitting on the coach watching hours of t.v while my daughter nurses?" But it will pass. She had days when she would nurse for hours and then other days it was more normal like every 2 to 3 hours. Your son will get better. They usually only do this when they are really young like your son. As he gets older he won't need to nurse so much. Try to relax and enjoy the days when you get to just lay around with him because pretty soon you won't have any days like that.
S.L. answers from Boise on August 27, 2008
He's using you as a human pacifier. You've got to be sore! It would drive me nuts. He shouldn't need to nurse any longer than 20 minutes on each side, ever.
My boys liked pacifiers okay for the first 8 weeks, but after that they spit them out and we had to try something different.
Personally, I would have my baby's crying rattle my nerves for a while than to let him suck on me for hours on end. There are other things that can distract him and keep him happy. Try going on walks outside, either in a stroller or holding him. Take a blanket outside on the grass and let him feel the breeze and listen to all the sounds. Try sitting him up (supporting him, of course) so he can look around more.
Another thing I resorted to was letting my boys suck on my finger. If you turn it upside down, so the nail is against his tongue, it won't scratch the roof of his mouth. My boys liked that a lot better than plastic. I guess they like skin!
I'd do anything I could to get him to learn to soothe himself with something other than your breast. You can't possibly be taking good care of yourself with him leeching onto you for 6 hours straight! And a happy, well-cared for mom is necessary for a happy, well-cared for baby.
S.K. answers from Denver on August 27, 2008
you are your babies pacifier. It seems to me that it is 80% a comfort thing and 20% a cluster feeder. My son was a cluster eater and he would be on every hour and a half but I limited the amount of time I let him stay there. The more alert he gets I am sure the time will automatcially decrease since he will be trying to look around. I would try to keep trying the pacifier if he has such a strong need to suck see if you can still hold him to the breast while slipping the nuk in and continue to hold him like that. It might be a weaning process or just let it go until he weans himself.