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Getting breastfeeding off to a strong start is easier with some expert help. That can be especially true when baby is cluster feeding. 

Cierra Nielsen is a leader with the Greater Greenville La Leche League. She is also the mother of three children, ages 5, 3 and 1½. She started attending La Leche League meetings when her oldest child was 4 months old.

“It’s a normal physiological need for a baby to nurse frequently, often,” she said. 

Nielsen highly recommends the book, “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding,” for new nursing moms and expectant mothers who plan to breastfeed.

Cluster feeding, when babies nurse very often – some might argue that it seems like constant feeding – can help establish a milk supply that meets baby’s demand. Nielsen said if mom feels that baby isn’t getting full but is at the breast often, she should ask for help. Those “high frequency days,” as Nielsen calls them, may also indicate a growth spurt. 

The early days of breastfeeding may feel like they run together, Nielsen said. 

“Those are critical days for your baby’s development,” she said. “Especially the first six weeks, the baby is creating the milk supply they need. Cluster feeding, especially, sets up that good milk supply. Those high frequency days create supply.”

But Nielsen wants moms to know that those days are normal. 

“Even when you take the hospital breastfeeding class, it’s really not touched on,” she said. “With my first, I was like, this baby nurses all the time. Even with subsequent children, it’s a lot to take on to know that you are the nourishment and the attachment. I think we don’t praise our moms enough.”

The supply of breast milk increases with baby’s demand, Nielsen said. That is often part of what she calls the fourth trimester – the first three months after birth.

“They still need a sold three months,” she said. 

Getting the hang of breastfeeding is as individual as each mom/baby pair, but help is available to make the transition easier. Local hospitals have lactation consultants on staff, and breastfeeding support groups and La Leche League meetings occur throughout the Upstate. 

If pain is complicating the adjustment to breastfeeding, Nielsen advises moms not to ignore it.

“Breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt,” she said. “If that’s happening, it’s like a rock in your shoe. If you have a rock in your shoe, you stop and take it out. Call in some help.”

Find local La Leche League support at https://lllusa.orgor see Upstate Parent’s resources for new and expectant parents. 

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