On day 2 or 3 after you give birth, your baby gets hungry....really hungry! If you are breastfeeding, your milk is yet to come in but is on it's way. This sudden burst in hunger is due to your baby's tummy and gastro-intestinal tract now having been emptied of all the mucous and amniotic fluid that was sitting there from the womb. Your baby's stomach size also increasing in anticipation of milk feeds that are about to arrive. The feeding frenzy is the way your baby helps your milk come in in order to start your breastfeeding journey.
I'm sure I read this kind of information when I was pregnant and it was discussed in our parenting/birth classes. While I was aware, I really didn't know! When people talk of a feeding frenzy, they mean it. Your baby will want to feed every hour or two, all day AND night. By the time the morning of our fourth day arrived, I was a wreck. After a long labour and two nights of broken sleep, the feeding frenzy knocked me for six. I remember my obstetrician coming to see me the morning after our night of constant snacking. I told her that if Layla wasn't so cute, at that stage I was ready to give her back (oy, if I only knew then what was to come)!
So what can you do in order to prepare? Ultimately, what your baby is doing is helping you (as ridiculous as that may seem). The constant sucking is what helps bring your milk in. There may be no way for you to be well rested before the feeding frenzy begins nor to hold off feeding in order for you to rest. I found that having my Mum or husband there to take the baby out of the room and walk her while I rested and slept even for 1 hour made a big different. Babies are very noisy sleepers and as a new Mum your ears are tuned to react to every little noise they make. By not having them in the room even for 1 hour, you may be able to recoup a little bit of sleep before the next feed. The feeding frenzy also has a tendency to cause grazed nipples. Constant feeding and poor attachment when you're really tired can do serious damage to your nipples. All I can recommend is to attend the breastfeeding classes offered in hospital, get the hospital lactation consultant to see you and apply lansinoh after EVERY feed.
Seven months on and I still remember the feeding frenzy with vivid memory. Even at the time I recall thinking "Why didn't anyone tell me about this?"
Good luck !