What is cluster feeding, colostrum and tongue tie? Breastfeeding jargon explained
Little Lullaby

What do cluster feeding, colostrum and tongue tie mean? Breastfeeding jargon explained

Little Lullaby
Little Lullaby

As a new mum, you can be bombarded with lots of sayings and words that you’ve never heard before — especially if this is your first baby. And breastfeeding is no exception!

We asked young mums Ellie and Sharna to explain the meaning behind cluster feeding, colostrum and tongue tie: some of the most confusing breastfeeding jargon around…

What is cluster feeding?

Cluster feeding is when babies (often younger babies) want lots of feeds close together at a certain time of the day. Often this happens during the evening, although it can differ between babies.

Ellie, one of our Young Parent Ambassadors, explains why this happens in our video above: “Newborn babies, because their stomachs are so small, digest breast milk really quickly.”

So if your little one seems to be very hungry at some times but less so at others, then don’t worry — they’re just cluster feeding! Ellie explains that it’s perfectly natural: “It boosts your milk supply, so it’s instinctive for them to want to do that.”

“They’ll often want to feed for what can seem like hours on end,” Ellie says. Babies can also be extra fussy when cluster feeding, which, when you’re already exhausted and feeding feels like it’s never-ending, can add to your frustration.

If you’re struggling with cluster feeding and feeling frustrated, then try talking to other young mums in our Community. Ellie and our other Young Parent Ambassadors are there to chat about your experiences and share their advice. You can ask them anything!

What is colostrum?

“Colostrum is the yellow milk that you produce before your proper milk comes in,” explains Ellie in our video below.

Colostrum is produced naturally in your mammary glands when you’re in the later stages of pregnancy. You might not even know it’s there unless you leak a bit during the end of your pregnancy.

But why does your body produce this yellow milk in the first place? Ellie explains that colostrum has extra ingredients that give young babies the healthiest start possible: “It’s full of antibodies and protein for your newborn baby.”

Want to know more about breastfeeding? Read Ellie’s breastfeeding story here, where she explains why breastfeeding her son Isaac wasn’t as easy as she’d hoped, and her advice to other mums who might be struggling.

What is tongue tie?

“Tongue tie is basically the little piece of skin babies have under their tongue,” says Young Parent Ambassador Sharna.

This tight bit of skin stretches from the underside of the baby’s tongue to the floor of their mouth. The condition is also known as ankyloglossia and, according to the NHS, it can affect between 4-11% of newborn babies.

Sharna explains that it can cause problems when these babies try to breastfeed: “It doesn’t allow them to latch onto your breast properly.” Ellie continues, “And it can be quite painful and cause quite a lot of problems.”

Find out more about tongue tie and what can be done if you think your baby might be affected at the NHS Choices website.

Chat with other young mums about breastfeeding in our Community

Breastfeeding can be challenging, even for mums who are feeding their second or third baby. But you’re not alone.

Chat to other young mums in our Community about whatever’s bothering you, or if you just want to share your story to help other parents in your position. From breastfeeding struggles to sharing happy memories with your little ones, Little Lullaby is the place to share experiences with other young parents.

Join the Community today and get started!

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