I haven’t showered in two days and I can’t tell if my nipples are itchy or, if they’re just that irritated. The house is a mess and I’ve only accomplished half of what I set out to do today. The kids had snap peas and rice for dinner, followed up with frozen yogurt, of which I grabbed an extra tube from the fridge and shoved down my shirt – there’s no point in really even wearing a bra during cluster feeding, right? I mean, it’s just going to result in seconds longer of screaming before the baby gets a nipple in her mouth and calms down.
Cluster feeding is one of those things that I had forgotten about when I decided that I freakin’ love tiny babies, and babies in general. The days where it’s 3 o’clock before you know it, and your oldest kid walks in the door from school, while you’re there disheveled and without pants on.
Going through it? In the thick of it? Here’s how to cope with cluster feeding:
Escape. Just leave. Whether you rush out to Starbucks to grab a Mint Majesty tea or a unicorn freakin’ frappucino. Just go. The fifteen minutes where this small person who looks at you the way you look longingly at the cake in the grocery store when you’re trying to eat healthier, is separated from you, is going to save your sanity.
Nipple cream. Yeah, those itchy nipples? Turns out they were indeed irritated. That’s what happens when your small person turns you into an all you can eat buffet, and you remember how co-sleeping during periods of cluster feeding plain sucks (pun intended). Try the stuff from Rocky Mountain Soap Baby line, it’s the least offensive I’ve found. It tastes strange to me (because I’m curious like that) but the baby doesn’t seem to mind it on there.
Ice cream. You could eat the carrot cake, cream cheese frosting gelato. Or you could just hold it against your nipples. If they’re numb, they’re not going to be affected, right?
Let them sleep wherever they’ll freakin sleep. Whether it’s in the dockatot on the couch, or in their carseat while you browse through Homesense wondering if you’re actually into the loom wall art that seems to be making a comeback, just let that freakin’ baby sleep so you can give your nipples a break.
Don’t get ambitious and try to wear a real bra. Even if it’s date night, even if you’re going out with your parents-in-law, don’t kid yourself – you don’t need to wear that nipple-prison. Skip it, wear the comfortable, stretchy, uniboob nursing bra or sports bra. It’s likely you’re going to have to feed the kid through dinner anyway, if you brought them along.
Drink plenty of water. Like gallons of water. Don’t be alarmed and concerned about your supply, it will adjust to suit the cluster-feeding-parasite you’ve created, but make sure you’re staying hydrated. Just stick a straw in a litre of Pellegrino. Connect two straws together, if you have to. Just make sure you’re drinking enough.
Netflix and Cluster feed. Screw the to do list, because if your day was anything like mine today, it’s not getting done. Just hang out and catch up on the latest season of Downtown Alley on Netflix. or Scandal, yeah – that. Just sit down, get comfortable and don’t try to hurry the process and get up. You’re just going to start the process over again.
Get Dressed. Okay, maybe this one is an obvious one, but if you read the above, you’ll realize that I haven’t had time to shower in two days, let alone catch up on laundry and find clean pajamas. Putting a layer of clothes between my skin and baby’s, helps with that ‘touched out’ feeling that can make you crazy during cluster feeding marathons.
Grab the baby carrier. Tired of sitting while feeding? Grab the baby carrier and give the kid take-out. Go for a walk, let them eat while you’re walking, and at least you’ll get some fresh air while they’re snacking. Maybe they’ll even fall asleep.
Cluster feeding makes me feel crazy, touched out, and like I don’t want anyone within four-feet of me – which is tricky when you’ve got two other kids and a husband. Anticipating, accepting and finding techniques to help you cope with cluster feeding helps you to get through it unscathed, well for the most part (sorry nipples). Breathe, breathe, breathe and memorize every little detail of those tiny toes and fingers; as with everything, this cluster feeding marathon will pass.
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