Most soon-to-be mothers expect to be “natural” at breastfeeding. This doesn’t come as a surprise since every woman has been told this for centuries. However, there are several aspects of breastfeeding that a new mother needs to learn and unlearn. It is only gradually that she and her baby fall into a natural rhythm.
Can you relate with this? If yes, then you will relate with this one too! The minute that you feel you are getting a hang of it, has your little one stumped you by falling asleep in the middle of breastfeeding? Have you ever wondered why that happens? Here, we bring you a few factors – practical as well as psychological – which can explain why your little one falls asleep during nursing:
1. They Are Already Full
This is one of the most obvious reasons your baby might fall asleep during breastfeeding. Newborns have the tendency to happily doze off after their tummy is full from feeding. Once their stomach is full, they love to take a nap in the safest place they know of – all warm and comfy. Truth be told, it is difficult to keep your baby awake after nursing in the initial few months. In fact, many experts suggest that it is better to put your baby to bed just when he/she is slightly sleepy. This is to ensure the little one gets used to sleeping without having to nurse (1). Establishing a routine during nighttime can also help. Your baby might find it easier to disassociate meal-time from sleep-time!
2. They Aren’t Latched On Properly
Babies who can’t latch on in a proper manner during nursing have a tendency to fall asleep. One of the signs to detect improper latching is a slight pain or feeling of discomfort during breastfeeding. If your little one is dozing off too soon after latching on for breastfeeding, he/she might not get adequate nutrition and diet. This might result in improper growth and weight gain. Such short latching can be anywhere between three to five minutes. Such latching can also result in insufficient production of milk for your baby gradually (2).
To break off the improper latching, you can try putting your finger at one corner of your baby’s mouth. Then, turn your finger slightly to try breaking the suction. Don’t apply force while doing so as this may startle your baby. Once the suction is broken, you can burp your baby. Follow up by giving your breast for the second time, ensuring both the nipple as well as areola is available for your baby to latch on to. You can also consult your doctor once to find a way to tackle this problem.
3. Low Birth Weight
If your baby’s birth weight is less than five and a half pounds during delivery, it can affect his/her breastfeeding abilities. You can find your little one sleepier than usual during nursing. You can always increase your skin-to-skin contact to ensure more warmth, and can also increase the frequency of feedings. It is important to find a solution as the breast milk is even more essential for premature babies or babies with low birth weight.
It is alright to feel a little worried when your baby dozes off while nursing. It is a given because your little one’s wellbeing is one of the most primary concerns for you. But, it is essential to understand whether or not the worry is warranted. These are the “red flag” signs that you can look out for – insufficient nursing, a less-than-normal passing of stools or urine, and insufficient growth or weight gain.
After an insufficient nursing, you can try waking your baby up by gently stroking his/her back after undressing. You can also tickle his/her feet or try burping your little one. Changing his/her diapers or switching the breasts can also work too!
If your tiny angel hasn’t been following any of the important norms mentioned above, it is best to book an appointment with your pediatrician. Don’t hesitate. Ever! There might not be anything to worry about at all. Good luck!