I see you mama! You’re tired and haven’t gotten a break in days from your sweet new little one.
It’s so fun and rewarding, but holy cow! It’s EXHAUSTING to the max!
To add to all the chaos that a baby brings to the family, just throw breastfeeding on top of it all and that is just the cherry on top (or maybe I should say the sweetened condensed milk 😉
“Breast is best” is what we are told, so we feel guilty doing it any other way. Breastfeeding also provides such a special connection for you and baby.
What happens when your baby is screaming after a feeding, eating their fists and rooting like crazy?!
This happened with my baby boy. He always seemed starved even right after a feeding!
I finally found out why, but it took me a few tiresome months to get to the root cause.
Good news: the best thing you can remember is that breastfeeding gets easier. It might seem so hard right now (because let’s face it… it’s all you can really think about. Eat, sleep, nurse, repeat. Right?)
But I promise with each week that passes, you and your little one will get the hang of it and before you know it you’ll be approaching the first year wondering where the time went!
But for now, let us save you some grief (and sleepless nights bouncing your baby) and share some tips and tricks on why your baby might seem so hungry after feeding.
Why Is My Baby Always Hungry After Breastfeeding?
1. Growth Spurt
It’s important to remember that each nursing session is different, especially if your baby is going through a growth spurt.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says it is important to nurse your baby for at least the first 6 months of life. “Infants go through a growth spurt between 10-14 days, 5-6 weeks, 3 months and at 4 months. During growth spurts, babies often become very fussy and want to eat more often than expected. A growth spurt can last up to a week! If nursed on cue, a mother will make all the milk her baby needs”.
Soooo, there ya have it! If your baby is at one of these ages, then VIOLA! You have your answer and you can rest assured that after the growth spurt subsides your baby will go back to normal eating patterns.
2. Comfort Nursing
Breast feeding can be so nice because it is a way to calm your little one when they are so worked up.
However, this can also become a negative association to being comforted.
Sometimes those early feeding cues might throw you off. If they are rooting or trying to eat their hands, they definitely could be hungry, but you might want to wait it out to see if it is anything else.
Comfort nursing isn’t a bad thing, but if it’s too much for you, handing baby off to dad or grandma could help!
3. Cluster Feeding
Cluster feeding can feel like you are always feeding your baby without a break. It’s consuming and tiring! Check out our post on constant nursing for some tips and tricks to help with this.
Babies tend to want to cluster feed in the evening hours and if that’s the case, you don’t need to be alarmed.
Frequent nursing at this time is ok– let them stock up on all those calories so that their tummies are full and ready for bedtime!
Fingers crossed that means you’ll be sleeping longer stretches at night too!
4. Poor Latch
This one is a big one! A lot of moms don’t realize that nursing SHOULD NOT cause severe pain.
Sometimes let down is a little painful, but after that, it shouldn’t be such an owie toe-curling pain. If it is, then check out these latch tips because chances are, your baby has an improper latch.
This not only is incredibly painful, but also hinders them from getting adequate milk and leads to swallowing lots of air. This can cause baby to want more frequent feeds because their little tummy is hurting due to gas and they think that food will fix it.
Poor latch leads to so many other problems! But don’t worry mama! This one is a pretty easy fix.
Make a quick appointment with a lactation specialist in your area (most pediatricians have one in office) and you’ll be good to go!
5. Didn’t Get Enough Hindmilk
Hindmilk and foremilk. Who knew there was such a thing as different types of milk when breastfeeding? This will depend on the amount of milk that you have.
The fuller your breast, the more foremilk there is. The less full=more hindmilk. A healthy baby needs both, but more hindmilk will fill the baby up more.
Let’s define these two… Foremilk is the thin watery milk that comes out first after the let-down relfex. Hindmilk is the creamy thick milk that comes about halfway into the feeding.
Another way to look at it– foremilk is like skim milk. Hindmilk is your whole milk. And we want chunky full tummy babies, right?! So let’s get them some of that hindmilk!
To do this, simply try to stay on one side a little bit longer than normal. Make sure you don’t switch too soon as this could cause foremilk hindmilk imbalance.
6. Baby Is Falling Asleep Before Becoming Full
Oh that sleepy newborn baby! I know. I know. They are so precious and sweet when they are peacefully sleeping after (or during) a feed.
But don’t let that happen! If they fall asleep in the middle of a feed, they didn’t get enough of that fatty milk and will be hungry minutes after you finish the feed.
So… tickle their feet, rub a wet washcloth on their face, undress them. Whatever you have to do to keep them awake and getting a healthy feeding pattern in.
7. Your Milk Supply Is Low
If your milk supply is low, it’s a good idea to look for things that might help to up it. Because it could be as simple as your new baby just isn’t getting enough to eat.
Look at this article on increasing milk supply to get some new ideas that will help up your supply.
8. Make Sure It’s Not Gas
A lot of times, your baby just might be gassy. Gas discomfort can make babies appear hungry when actually they just need some help getting out the air.
Your baby’s ability to get those air bubbles out is very limited in those early days. So do some bicycle legs with them or try a probiotic to get baby’s digestive system moving again.
If you’re curious, head on over to this article to see the causes of gas in breastfed babies and what can be done about it.
9. Baby Is Simply Fussy, Not Hungry
Babies cry a lot. Sometimes they might just be tired or be in need of a diaper change. So don’t be so quick to think they need more food.
Head over to this article about the causes of fussiness and see what can be done to soothe your little one.
10. Baby Is Teething
Oh the joys of teething. The biting, the nursing strikes, the drool, and sleepless nights. It’s kind of all the worst!
Hang in there though! The silver lining is that IF your baby is teething, it could mean that they just want to feed more frequently to be comforted from the pain. Don’t worry– it’s just a phase and it too will end.
Grab some teething rings and ice pops and try to distract your little one from all that pain.
11. Baby Is Fighting Off A Sickness
This is similar to teething. When a baby is sick, they want to be comforted. Let them nurse more frequently and on demand on the worst days of their sickness.
One of my favorite parenting quotes is “Bad habits take 3 days to make and 7 days to break”. So as long as you don’t do it for more than 3 days you’re going to be a-okay!
12. Distracted Eating
Does your baby love to look around while they eat? My second daughter would get SO distracted while she ate that sometimes it would take over an hour to just get the feeding done.
If they are distracted, sometimes they will unlatch too soon before they are full.
Try going into a darker and quieter room to help them focus on the task at hand!
After a few weeks of doing this for each feeding, they will be accustomed to how much they should eat and will be better at eating out in a place with more commotion.
How To Know Whether Your Baby Is Getting Enough Milk
1. Baby Is Swallowing
Baby will suck 2-3 times and then swallow. The swallow sound will be almost like a coo or a release of breath. If baby is swallowing then they are getting milk!
2. Baby Has Enough Wet And Dirty Diapers
The first week of baby’s life, their wet and dirty diapers should correlate to how old they are. So on day one of life they should have one wet and one dirty. Day two will be two wet and two dirty. And so on until you hit one week. After that, wet diapers will be anywhere from 6-8 and dirty diapers will be from 1-4 per day.
Unless you have an odd duck who only poops once a week (*cough cough* my baby). That’s a whole other story for another article!
3. Baby Unlatches Himself
If you are forcing your baby to unlatch because you feel like they have eaten enough, then chances are they haven’t. Wait until your baby chooses to unlatch for him or herself.
This will tell you that baby is full, content and got all that they need for that feeding.
4. Baby Is Gaining Weight
Your baby’s doctor can help out with this one! Save those fun charts from the pediatrician so you can see overtime how much weight your baby is gaining.
If you have a scale, you can weigh yourself and then you with your baby and subtract your weight. This will give you a somewhat accurate weight measurement.
If they are gaining weight then you’ll know that your baby is getting enough to eat and chances are they aren’t hungry after a feed but have something else going on instead.
This breastfeeding journey is a tough one!
We are all in this together and we’ve been in your shoes too. You’ve got this mama!
Keep trying, keep following your motherly intuition, and remember… the most important thing is that your baby feels loved. Let this be a special time for you and baby to connect and try as hard as you can to not stress too much about all the little do’s and don’ts of nursing.
You know your baby the best and I have confidence you will find just what your baby needs!