Health: How to keep a hungry baby happy - Daily Mail
I didn't like Sarah Stacey's answer in the Daily Mail on the link above to the question below. So I decided to reply myself.
Q: I am a first-time mum and don’t produce enough milk for my hungry six-week-old baby boy at night, which makes us both stressed. I want to avoid using formula if possible so the health visitor advised expressing milk with a pump in the mornings – when I have plenty – but I find a manual pump very difficult to use.
A. What makes you think you don't produce enough milk at night? During the evening it's very normal for babies of this age to cluster feed, which is when they take multiple feeds with shorter spacings in between, sometimes back to back.
In the early days, hunger is driven partly by a hormone called CCK - the same hormone that induces relaxation and sleep. After a feed baby has a high level of CCK, which tells him he’s full, but it drops after another 10 or 20 minutes, so he thinks he’s hungry again. He may go through this loop several times, in what’s known as cluster feeding, before dropping into a solid, longer sleep. This is thought to allow baby to fill their whole digestive system, so excess hunger doesn't occur during a longer sleep spell.
The other thing to consider is that babies often have something called a "growth spurt" at 5-6 weeks ish (sometimes termed "fussy spell"), which can last anywhere from a couple of days to a week or so. This is when a previously settled baby has a sudden increase in appetite and wants to feed feed feed, sometimes appearing insatiable and generally fussy. It's a normal developmental step seen in both breast and bottle fed infants and they may have a few days sleeping lots after the spurt, which is when some suggest the growing (physically or mentally) occurs.
Therefore the first thing to ascertain is whether you really are not producing enough, or whether you actually have a perfectly normal supply and your baby is just doing what babies do (but which many "experts" fail to tell parents about).
You mention you have plenty in the mornings, enough to express - which wouldn't suggest a shortage of milk? It is though totally normal for milk volume to be greatest in the morning and fall gradually as the day progresses, which can leave mums concerned there isn't enough. But it's also worth knowing that if we measure the fat content of feeds this increases during the day as volume decreases - magic!
Really you need to look at the big picture. Does baby pee, poop and gain weight as expected, was he previously settled after feeds and you felt things were going well prior to this point? Is feeding pain free? If you answer yes to the above, following your baby's lead and feeding on cue is the quickest way through a fussy spell without using formula (which you mention you would like to avoid using).
If not and your baby remains unsettled or you're experiencing any pain or discomfort, there is specialist help out there. From Lactation Consultants to Breastfeeding Counsellors there are lots of options if you know where to look. Ask your Midwife or Health Visitor for details of local groups and breastfeeding counsellors, find out who is your local Infant Feeding Advisor or call one of the helplines. If you prefer there are also private Lactation Consultants who charge for their one to one services. Keep hunting for effective support, with which the vast majority of mums can make enough milk to satisfy even the hungriest of babies.