Some moms struggle with breastfeeding their baby, while some are concerned with their baby’s sleeping pattern. What more if you struggle with both, breastfeeding a sleepy baby?
You are aware of waking up your baby every 2 hours to feed, but as soon as you latch your baby onto your breasts, he falls asleep. Should you wake him up?
Causes of Sleepiness in Newborn While Breastfeeding
Sleep is essential for baby’s growth and development. It is normal for a newborn baby to sleep a lot but take actions if their sleep interferes with their feeding. If you have a newborn baby who is always knocked off while breastfeeding, here are some reasons that cause his sleepiness.
1. Biological Reasons
A hormone called oxytocin is released while breastfeeding. It is sometimes called “love hormone” as it promotes bonding and love between a mother and her baby. It is also responsible for the feeling of relaxation while breastfeeding which leads to drowsiness for both the mother and her baby.
2. Excessive Milk or Forceful Let-Down Reflex
Increased flow of milk can cause discomforts in a baby like coughing, gagging and/or choking while breastfeeding. He will constantly let go off the breast or may even refuse to take it resorting to sleeping rather than breastfeeding.
3. Inadequate Milk or Slow Let-Down Reflex
If a baby is not getting enough milk or when the mother’s let-down reflex is too slow, he may become weaker and sleepy instead of crying and demanding for more milk. A newborn baby is flow-dependent and if milk is too slow, he may also slows down sucking and falls asleep instead.
Breastfeeding may seem to be the best way to settle an active toddler, but it may not be advisable for a newborn baby. It is recommended to wake a newborn every 2 hours to feed. If a newborn baby actively sucks for about a minute or two then doze off, he may not have received adequate milk intake.
Why Should You Keep Your Baby Awake While Breastfeeding?
A good feeding is when a baby actively sucks the first breast within 20-30 minutes then the second breast may be offered although he may or may not take it. Switching breast is not required if he is actively sucking and swallowing, just follow his lead and let him finish his feeding. This is why staying awake is necessary to ensure that he is getting his needed milk intake.
If your baby is not actively sucking, you can try breast compression to get milk flow faster while breastfeeding.A proper latch is beneficial for a baby because it enables him to effectively suck milk. Learn about proper latching on this video.
Waking a Sleepy Baby While Breastfeeding
Waking up a sleepy baby to breastfeed may be struggling, but below tips might be helpful.
1. Wake Him Up During Light Sleep
The best time to wake up a baby is if he is still in light sleep. When a baby is in deep sleep, it is harder to wake him. Your baby is in light sleep if he has clenched fists, flutters his eyelids or grinning.
2. Change Breastfeeding Position
Breastfeeding in a cradle position gives the feeling of being “closer and warmer” thus making a baby more sleepy. Try switching into clutch or football hold rather than cradle position.A nursing pillow provides great help in supporting your baby in the proper position while breastfeeding.
3. Talk to Your Baby
Hold your baby in upright position. Talk to him and encourage him to open his eyes. You can also prod him a bit or undress both of you and have a skin-to-skin contact placing your baby against your tummy and breasts. Do this while you continue talking to your baby.
4. Switch Breast
When you see your baby lost interest in nursing the first breast, try offering the other breast before he dozes off to sleep. You can also do a quick back rub while transitioning him from the first breast to the other.
5. Burp Him or Change His Diaper
If switching breast seems ineffective the moment you offer, try burping him first before offering again. Changing diaper may also be an effective way of waking him up, as it takes a lot of movements from him. Burping your baby helps release gas and makes him feel better.
6. Increase Stimulation
Give him a gentle massage on his palm and soles to wake him up. You can also rub his back and stroke his scalp in circular motion. Do the bicycle massage while talking to him and trying to make an eye contact. Wiping his face with wet washcloth may also do the trick on awakening your baby.
7. Express Some Milk During a Forceful Let-Down
If you feel your let-down, you can remove your baby from your breast and let the milk flow to a clean cloth or cup. If your baby fall asleep fast the moment you pull him off, you can try dribbling some milk unto his mouth to wake him up.
8. Breast Compression
If you are struggling with slow let-down, you can try breast compression to encourage the milk to flow allowing your baby to suck more. While holding your breast in U-hold, you can gently massage by putting some pressure and pressing down your breast every time he sucks then releases.
Need help with breast compression? Learn more on this video.
Monitor your baby’s weight gain
Breastfeeding a sleepy baby may be a challenge but try out the tips mentioned above and see what will work for your baby. Remember to keep track of your baby’s urine and stool and his weight gain, as these indicate whether your baby is getting enough milk or not.
This is applicable during the first weeks, as when he is gaining weight steadily and your milk supply is established, you can now feed on demand. What are your breastfeeding struggles and success? Share your thoughts below!