I’ve talked about my eldest in her early days before. I’d nurse her for about 45 minutes, and then she’d finally drop off my breast and go to sleep. “Ah,” I’d think. “I can finally eat/go pee/shower.”
But seemingly minutes later, she’d be crying for me again.
I’d go through all the motions of checking the diaper, picking her up, making goofy faces, shushing, swinging…you name it! And she’d want to nurse again. My baby was always hungry after breastfeeding.
At least that’s how it seemed.
I felt nuts from that, especially with my hormones. So I called my breastfeeding coach, Vivien, and told her point blank, “I feel like a boob slave!”
If not for Viv’s crucial words, I might have given up. She told me, “Your baby will never need you more in her life than she does right now.” That really hit home for me. She told me that as my baby grows in the next few weeks, she will eat more efficiently, and I will no longer feel like a boob slave.
I’m so happy I stuck with it. Soon, I did have time to eat/go pee/shower without her crying up a storm. Knowing this when my youngest came along certainly made things easier.
Is your newborn constantly nursing? It’s so much more normal than you actually think. See, we look at movies, TV shows, even cartoons, and it makes taking care of a new baby look simple.
Funny thing is, in movies and shows with live actors, the babies they show as newborns are actually 3 months old. Why? Well, let’s be honest here. We love our babies, but as newborns, they look like red-faced angry old grandpas. As the weeks go on, they grow into their features, and they look more cherubic rather than grouchy.
I’d now like to address the most common questions I’ve been getting about this issue to help put your mind at ease.
How can I tell if my baby is still hungry after breastfeeding?
If you’re a new mama that just brought a baby home from the hospital, get ready to feed that baby more than you think. While the baby is tucked safely in your womb, she’s getting a constant stream of oxygen, fluid, and food.
Newborns will feed between 8 to 12 times within a 24-hour span. So, if you feel like that’s what you’re always doing, guess what? It’s normal. Baby should be gaining weight as the days and weeks go on, and that’s what’s important. Plus, the more baby nurses, the more signals your brain is getting to make more milk to support that baby.
That begs another question I often hear…is my baby eating enough? My breasts feel empty, and the baby is still hungry after nursing for over an hour!
Don’t worry, Mama!
Breasts full of breastmilk do not need to feel like footballs that are rock-hard full of milk. The best way to tell a baby is getting enough is in how many diapers you go through. That first day you’ll see at least one dirty diaper. After that, the amount tends to grow and you should be getting at least 3 poopy diapers daily with plenty of pee-filled ones too.
So even if your baby isn’t pushing your nipple out of her mouth or falling asleep after nursing to show satisfaction, those diapers can be very telling that baby is getting enough nutrition. Weight gain also helps show you things are going well too.
If you suspect they’re not and the baby is always acting hungry, make sure you’ve got that latch on just right. I’ve talked about proper latch so many times before, and I think it will help you tremendously if you go back and read that now. This way, you know the baby is getting enough milk and that your body is getting all the signals to keep making more and more of it.
Why does my breastfed baby always seem hungry?
Hahaha, I know, right? Newborns seem like hungry little things all the time. But there are times when a breastfed baby always seems hungry. And it’s during those times that you may be in the land of growth spurts.
Growth spurts happen around 1 to 3 weeks, 4 to 6 weeks, at 3 months, 6 months, and 9 months. I’ve also written about these, so you may want to read them in greater detail.
Babies going through a growth spurt will always seem more hungry. Ravenous is actually the term I would use to describe this hunger. The good news is that as long as you have a proper latch, you’ll have gobs of milk flowing forth. And you can pump any excess after the baby goes back to regular eating habits and save it for your husband or another caregiver to feed the baby with whenever you decide to escape to Target for some me-time.
If the baby always seems hungry, not to worry as she will become more efficient with breastfeeding in time. That means she won’t nurse as often, and she will take less time to gulp down on that precious breastmilk.
Tips on Getting Baby to Breastfeed Longer for Baby That’s Always Hungry
If your baby always seems hungry, try to nurse on each side during each feeding. Finish on one breast and then offer the other one. It might feel empty to you, but let baby finish eating there first.
This is important:
See, breastmilk is very complex. The stuff that comes out first is more watery (foremilk), but the hindmilk is richer and more satisfying. Let baby get to that good stuff, and you should see a more satisfied eater.
Sometimes you will offer that second breast, and they will suck up all the goodness in there too. Other times, they will wave it away and be all good.
Try this trick, and you should see a full and happy baby because she’s getting that rich and thick hindmilk in her feedings. You can also massage your breasts to help get that milk flowing and support the process.
Is this what’s known as cluster feeding?
If your baby has a bunch of feedings in a short time, like late afternoon or evening, and you’re always feeding them, this is cluster feeding. She’ll nurse for short periods, pop off the breast, and then nurse some more, fuss , nurse, and continue the process.
This, too, is very normal, particularly for newborns. But if you have an older baby doing this, they may have a bellyache or are heading into that fun growth spurt period.
I know what you’re going to ask next…is my milk enough? You bet! As long as you’ve got a good latch from the start, your body is getting the message to keep making the milk. Keep at it, Mama. It’s hard work, but it gets easier. And once you start introducing solids at around 6 months when the baby can sit up all on her own, you’ll earn more freedom.
Is it possible to breastfeed too much?
Not at all! You can’t overfeed a breastfed baby ever. Don’t listen to what anyone says. No doctor on this planet would tell you that either. Baby will not become fat or spoiled or anything awful if you keep nursing her.
Babies will breastfeed when hungry or when they need comfort. If they feel full, they will let go of your nipple or suckle without swallowing to get that comfort.
Last word about that baby who wants to breastfeed constantly…
I know you’re exhausted, but that’s what we signed up for with Momhood, you know? It gets easier, and babies get more efficient at nursing, and we get more free time. And then we’re busy in other ways like chasing them around the house and all that.
- Make sure you start with a good latch always!
- Let baby get all the milk in each breast. Even if it feels empty to you, it’s never quite empty and that hindmilk at the end is the most filling.
- Offer both breasts. It’s ok if your baby refuses the second one during some of your feedings.
In the end, know you’re doing a wonderful job. Keep it up!
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.