Growth spurt?

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Growth spurt?

Postby melissa1 » Wed 08 May, 2013 11:27 am


This is my second baby so you think I would remember what it was like to go through a growth spurt! My baby is 7 weeks and the last couple of days he has been extremely fussy, during the day feeding pretty much every 1/2 hour - 1 hour (breastfed). He just doesn't seem satisfied. yesterday he was awake from about 11am through to 9pm.. only sleeping for 10 minutes at a time.. everytime I would put him down he would just wake and be upset again. I even tried letting him cry for long periods of time but the result was still the same. When he finally went to sleep at 9pm last night probably from exhaustion, he slept for 6 hours, fed again and then slept another 4 hours. But today has been the same, feeding all the time and grumpy. Can I put it down to a growth spurt? How long do they normally last for? Before the last couple of days he was fine, happy & settling himself to sleep pretty much!

Does it help to express milk as well as feed him?

Thanks, any advice would be appreciated, even though I know there isn't much you can do til it passes :(
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Re: Growth spurt?

Postby NgalaOnline » Thu 09 May, 2013 2:36 pm

Hi Melissa1

Thank you for your post. It is certainly normal for things to still feel "new" when a second baby arrives, so do not be concerned about that! All babies (even siblings) are very different from each other, and after years of parenting a constantly growing and changing baby who then became a toddler and preschooler, many parents find it hard to remember with clarity what their first child was doing at the same age their subsequent child now is. It is common for parents of second and subsequent to feel that they should find parenting a baby easier after their first child, but very normal for it to be just as challenging!

It is difficult to say via an online forum without further information whether the behaviour your baby is suddenly showing is normal or whether it requires some more investigation. When a baby's behaviour is unusally distressed out of the blue it is often workwhile taking the baby for a medical review with a GP to ensure that the baby is not unwell. It is certainly very common for babies to have several unsettled days in the course of a week. Many parents find that unsettled and fussy behaviour seems to peak around 6 weeks of age, and many parents also do report several days of increased feeding around 6 weeks of age that appears to be a "growth spurt" or a baby's attempt to boost the mother's breastmilk supply. Unsettled days often happen at least 3 days per week for several weeks, and often resemble the behaviour your baby is showing such as frequent feeding, difficulty soothing, settling or remaining asleep. When a baby becomes very overtired it is common for him to keep seeking the breast as a means of trying to help himself soothe and calm down, and for him to only have short catnaps before waking again. Despite the fact that these behaviours are quite common for babies around your baby's age, I do not feel it is appropriate for me to judge whether this is the reason for your baby's unsettledness as I feel that more information is required to make a thorough assessment of your individual baby. I believe that it would be beneficial to ring the Australian Breastfeeding Association's helpline (which is available 24/7) on 1800 686 268 and discuss your baby's behaviour with them.

Baby behaviour (especially in newborns) is often unpredictable and is often not a very accurate way to assess things like breastmilk supply. Other indicators such as breast sensation (ie whether they feel hard or soft / full or empty) and how much milk can be expressed are also not reliable indicators of what a mother's supply is like. It would be unusual for a mum's milk supply to abruptly drop to less than the baby's needs if the mother is feeding on demand and breastfeeding has been well established. Some good indicators of supply are whether the baby is having at least 5 heavy wet nappies a day, whether the bowel motions are soft, if there has been continued weight gain, and if the baby is having some settled periods in each 24 hours (even if there are also some unsettled periods). Breastmilk supply is governed by the principle of supply and demand, so if you have any concerns about breastmilk supply then frequent feeding on demand and ensuring the baby has at least 8 feeds in 24 hours are the best ways of increasing your milk supply. Occasionally, if a mother's milk supply has dropped for any reasons )such as if the breasts have been less frequently drained than usual in recent days or weeks) or if the baby is requiring more milk for growth, the baby may respond by feeding very frequently for a number of days to boost the mother's milk supply. Medications (including cold and flu tablets, some herbals teas and also oral contraceptives) can sometimes cause a drop in a mother's milk supply, so it could be helpful to look at whether you have commenced on any new substances recently. If there are any concerns about milk supply it is also helpful to ensure that your baby feeds at least every 3 hours during the day (from the beginning of one feed to the beginning of the next) whilst you are trying to boost your milk supply. At night you may like to allow one longer sleep period (such as 4 or 5 hours) but if the baby sleeps longer than this and you are trying to boost your supply it is helpful to wake your baby for a feed. Expressing milk can be helpful but is often exhausting for mothers. If a baby is well attached at the breast and not causing any nipple pain, then increased feeding directly from the breast at least 8 times in 24 hours is the most helpful way of boosting milk supply. If you have the time and energy to express once or a few times a day, this can be helpful but is secondary to feeding the baby frequently at the breast.

Under 3 months of age babies do not have the brain development yet to allow them the ability to calm and soothe themselves when they are distressed, overwhelmed or overtired. Babies this age are very dependent on their caregiver to help them calm and it can be distressing or exhausting for them to be left to cry. Some ways in which you might find it helpful to settle your baby when he is very overtired and distressed include fast or rhythmic movement (such as rocking a pram over a bump on the floor, rocking in your arms, patting him firmly and fast whilst he is in his cot). Many overtired newborns also respond well to firm swaddling (even if they initially fight it as they are swaddled) and to white noise that is louder than their cry (such as radio static or a vacuum cleaner). This can help them tune into something other than their own inward feelings of tiredness and distress, and can help them to soothe.

You may find the following links helpful: ... nough-milk ... mum/supply

I hope this information is helpful. I do hope that the behaviour your baby is showing is typical newborn unsettledness or a growth spurt, but I do encourage you to ring the Australian Breastfeeding Association helpline or the Ngala helpline to discuss this situation further if your baby continues to be unsettled.
This information is general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for the personalized assistance that can be received from the Ngala Helpline by telephone.

For families residing in Western Australia you can also contact the
Ngala Helpline
Telephone 9368 9368 or 1800 111 546 for country access
Available 7 days a week, 8am to 8pm
or request a callback online

For helplines in other Australian states please follow this link
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