“C” is such an important letter for us to discuss. Colostrum and Cluster Feeding can both put new parents into unknown territory.
First let’s dive in to colostrum…baby’s first food.
Colostrum starts being made during the 2nd trimester of pregnancy. Unfortunately, many mothers feel like they don’t have enough milk right after birth but colostrum is available in similar quantities as a newborn’s stomach capacity.
Colostrum contains protective white blood cells that are capable of attacking harmful bacteria. It also “seals” the insides of baby’s intestines. This is so important! Colostrum is the perfect first food for baby. It is high in protein and low in sugar and fat. This makes it easy to digest.
Colostrum also stimulates the bowels which is so important for expelling meconium. Colostrum in frequent doses helps to dispel the excess bilirubin that contributes to jaundice. Colostrum has been called “liquid gold” and “baby’s first immunization”. My advice to new moms would be to nurse often in the early hours after birth, even though you may not feel like you are making milk. You are providing just what your baby needs.
If for some reason you need to feed baby by an alternative method, the best thing you can do is to hand express your colostrum and feed it to baby by spoon feeding, cup feeding, syringe feeding or another alternative.
Now on to cluster feeding…
This is when baby eats frequently and close together. This common infant behavior can lead new parents to believe that their baby isn’t getting enough milk.
But it is normal for babies to breast feed often.
We tell parents that baby should eat every two to three hours but how that actually looks in real life can vary greatly. Baby may eat often, several times in a short span and then sleep for a longer stretch.
A common time for babies to cluster feed is in the evenings when prolactin levels are lowest. So if frequent feeding can possibly indicate that baby isn’t getting enough milk, how can we know if it is just cluster feeding? You will know by baby’s diaper output and weight gain. Input equals output so if baby is nursing enough and getting enough you will have adequate wet and poopy diapers. The best indicator is the poopy diapers. We will discuss tracking that in a future post.