Breastfeeding, Opinion

There’s No Such Thing as a Hungry Baby

Even as I write, I question the wisdom in penning this post. But it’s been a tough day (tough six months if we’re being honest), and I just can’t not any longer. I’ve kept it in for more than three years now and I finally need to let it out. So here it is: THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A HUNGRY BABY.

Or, there is – but only in the same way that there’s such a thing as a tired baby or a good baby, ie. it applies equally to them all. Allow me to explain…

Every breastfed baby will go through cycles of cluster feeding to regulate milk production; this is normal. To suggest otherwise does a disservice to the breastfeeding mother and undermines her efforts to nourish her baby.

Did you breastfeed, but then your baby started waking to see every single hour of the night? Me too. I still breastfeed.

Did you breastfeed, but then your baby started wanting to feed almost constantly for two hours? Me too. I still breastfeed.

I know it’s hard: it’s my life and I live it day in, day out, as do many other women. It’s not for everyone, and that’s okay. But please do not undermine the mammoth undertaking we commit to by suggesting that our babies are less demanding than others, because in most cases that is simply not true.

There's no such thing as a hungry baby. Suggesting otherwise undermines the efforts of breastfeeding mothers.

I’m not looking for pats on the back or to have my hand held in order to continue feeding. I do it because I believe it’s best for my baby and I choose to. But I cannot help but want to scream every time that flippant comment is made to me, in relation to another woman’s choice to not breastfeed. It is her choice, and she’s free to do what works best for her and her family. But it’s really unheplful to suggest that any mother who perseveres with breastfeeding is only able to do so because she has an easier baby.

It’s demoralising and plain unsupportive.

Every mother who breastfeeds has days when she is fed up with it because it hurts, or because she has blocked ducts, or she’s on her knees with exhaustion, or she simply craves some autonomy. If she continues in spite of these things, it’s through sheer determination – and that deserves recognition. I recognise you ladies: you’re doing a brilliant job and this is for a short time only. Keep up the great work.

I accept that where I’ve heard this is largely from a generation who were not well-versed in breastfeeding, and it may be that there’s now a better understanding of the mechanics and concepts surrounding it. However, given the insinuation – which is far from sisterly – I have to wonder where the need to effectively put down a mum’s efforts stems from. I suspect defensiveness. And actually, I struggle to sympathise with that.

Call me harsh, but while my baby has me up Every. Single. Hour of the night, I just can’t find the energy to console them too.


  1. Lucy At Home

    December 1, 2017 at 11:43 am

    Yes! I am so glad somebody finally said this! I breastfed both my babies – the first one included 3 weeks of a hospital stay where I had to express every 3hours to keep my supply up, and the 2nd included a period where she fed every single hour, night & day. But we got through it and made it to 15mths with both. It often feels like you’re not allowed to say this because people who don’t breastfed take it personally, like we’re saying they didn’t try hard enough. It’s not that at all – it’s just an acknowledgment that actually we did well and kept going when most people would have given up. It’s not because the baby was easier or the circumstances were simpler – it’s because we gritted our teeth and pushed ourselves harder and further than we ever thought possible.

    1. Kate Tunstall

      December 5, 2017 at 6:32 am

      Exactly Lucy! Well done for overcoming your difficult circumstances – I’ll say it in case nobody else did! I was in hospital with Pixie for just a few days and know how tough that was, so can’t imagine three weeks.

      I don’t think this issue is going away unfortunately, but I don’t stop applauding breastfeeding mums.

  2. Elizabeth

    December 5, 2017 at 10:50 am

    My first was a lazy latcher which was even harder- at 9 months, he just wanted to go and no longer had time to nurse (he was walking by then and didn’t want to stop for bottles or food either…)

    Now I’m nursing my 8 month old second and he’s been a better latcher from day one. I am struggling with some ‘leftover’ feelings from my first stopping before I was ready but the good days have helped as well as the days where I’m too tired to pump or make a bottle!

    1. Kate Tunstall

      December 29, 2017 at 9:47 am

      Nothing worse than a lazy latcher! I got Elfin checked for tongue tie due to a poor latch but was assured she didn’t have one! Thankfully it’s improved over time.

      I hope you second baby feed until you’re both ready to stop, although a perfectly harmonious ending is difficult I think.

  3. KB

    December 10, 2017 at 2:01 am

    Amazing!! I wish more mommas would research breastfeeding and the woes that come with it. It’s never easy. I wish they would have more confidence and stick with it.

    1. Kate Tunstall

      December 29, 2017 at 9:49 am

      Yes! I do too, alas I fear we’ve a long way to go… Sadly society tends to become very defensive when we discuss the issue. It’s a shame.

  4. Joanne

    December 21, 2017 at 7:45 am

    Thank you for this!! I have a newborn and your article was just the thing I needed for encouragement. Again, thank you for this!

    1. Kate Tunstall

      December 29, 2017 at 9:55 am

      Thanks Joanne, you’re so welcome. Congratulations and keep going! It’s not easy but it’s so worth it!

  5. Mum OverRun. (@MumOverRun)

    February 6, 2018 at 10:00 am

    Honestly, I don’t know where people get off saying anything what so ever that is unhelpful or unkind to a mother with a new baby. Even if you don’t agree just shut up – be helpful – do the washing up or something and keep up your negative opinions to yourself!

    1. Kate Tunstall

      February 22, 2018 at 10:09 am

      Hear hear! It’s crazy. And yes, the help instead would be very much appreciated…

  6. Rosy

    March 20, 2018 at 9:19 am

    Yeah..thanks for this article. I breastfed my son until he was 2 and it was not easy at all. I remember the stares and negative comments I received from family and friends. But I didn’t care, I knew that breast milk was the best for my son. I’m now breastfeeding my 16 months old daughter. Still getting the same negative comments and I don’t really care. Breastfeeding is a journey and this is about what works for me and my babies. Everyone else can go and drink milk with their negative comments:-). Way to go breastfeeding mums. You are doing great

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