For a baby, nothing can be more nutritious and beneficial than a mother's milk. Along with the baby, breastfeeding comes across as a blessing for the mother as well, ensuring a speedy and healthy recovery from childbirth. No wonder doctors always advise new mommies to breastfeed their child as much as possible. However, many times, much to a mother's dismay, babies tend to fall asleep (especially during the first few months) during breastfeeding. While this may not be as serious as apprehended, many mommies get anxious fearing the well-being of their tiny tot. For all such mommies, here is some information as to why babies fall asleep during breastfeeding and what you can do about it.
Image Courtesy: Breastfeeding.support
For efficient breastfeeding, the baby should be able to latch on to your breasts properly. In addition to making breastfeeding a painful experience for the mother, improper/poor latching is also found to be one of the underlying factors for the baby to fall asleep during breastfeeding. Before you start breastfeeding, make sure the baby is comfortably placed. Hold the baby in such a way that your nipples are within their reach ensuring they can latch on to the breasts without any hassle.
If, however, the baby falls asleep within the first few minutes of breastfeeding due to poor latching, do not suddenly pull the baby off your breast. Instead, gently put your fingers in the baby's mouth (starting from the corner and then slowly turning the fingers). This action will help to break the suction so that it doesn't hurt your breasts when the baby is pulled away. Now, carefully try to help the baby burp. Follow this by repositioning the baby in such a way that they latch onto the breasts correctly and with ease.
The small tummy is already full
Many times, babies fall asleep during nursing as they are already full and satisfied and a good nap is all that they desire. Avoid over-feeding the baby. We understand your concern but don't breastfeed the baby every time he/she cries. There are a plethora of reasons as to why a baby cries. The best option would be to consult a pediatrician and get a chart as to how often you should breastfeed your baby as per their age, size and weight.
On many occasions, it has been observed that babies who were a little underweight at their time of birth were likely to fall asleep more often during breastfeeding than babies with a normal birth weight. However, unless your baby shows any signs of health problems such as having problems with passing stool or urine (lesser than expected) or being extremely weak, there is no reason to press the panic button. Instead, keep in touch with the attending pediatrician and continue breastfeeding your child (as per your doctor's recommendation). With proper care and nourishment, your baby will grow up to be a healthy individual.
While these are the most common reasons, there could be many factors that result in a baby often falling asleep during breastfeeding. Some of these factors include:
Over-exhaustion due to sleep deprivation
Babies always want to be cuddled with maximum skin contact with their loved ones (especially the mother). Maintain skin-to-skin contact with your baby at least during the first few months. Depriving them of the same can leave the child anxious, sleep deprived and exhausted. As a result, the moment you take the child into your lap for breastfeeding, they doze off to sleep.
Infections and health problems
With newborns and infants, health problems (especially infections) are inevitable. Infections often leave a child weak and tired as a result of which they tend to fall asleep more than often including during breastfeeding. However, with timely medical assistance, things will fall into place sooner or later.
Breastfeeding the child in a dark room also acts as trigger making them sleepy. Make sure to breastfeed the baby in a room with light, even if it's just a dim light, so that your baby is not irritated by harsher lighting. Also, keep talking to the child during the feeding so that they can stay awake.
Image courtesy: womenshealth.gov
Babies are small and will not behave the same way every day. However, a little alertness on your part can work wonders, making breastfeeding a pleasurable experience for you and the baby.