Babies tend to be very sleepy during the first few weeks of life, so it’s common to fall asleep during a breastfeeding session.
Here are some common scenarios that many moms experience with their babies.
Abnormally long nursing sessions
If the nursing session is more than 50 minutes but the baby is still sucking, it might be a sign that the baby is not getting enough milk. Here are the possible causes.
- Ineffective suckling: The baby may be sucking with a poor latch, which makes it difficult for them to get enough milk. Next time, when you see the baby’s rhythmic pattern of suckling and swallowing has slowed, you can try changing position or switching to another side of the breast.
- Anatomical abnormalities: Sometimes, it’s the abnormalities in your baby’s tongue, such as tongue-tie, that inhibit the ability to effectively suck. If you think you have a good latch but the baby still seems hungry after every feed, or you still experience breastfeeding pain, contact a lactation expert or a doctor to help you determine the cause.
Baby falls asleep at the breast
If your baby started the session with active nursing but then falls asleep too early during the session, you can try the following techniques.
- Gentle stimulation: When you see the baby starting to doze off, try waking your little one up by burping, tickling the feet, or gently talking to them to resume feeding.
- Switching to the other breast: It could also be that the milk flow is slow on that breast. If you suspect this is the case, try switching to the other breast and see how the baby reacts. If your baby pulls away and seems content — or falls back to sleep and doesn’t seem to want to wake up — your baby might just be full.
Note that in the first month of life, you’ll feel like you’re nursing non-stop. After a feeding session, it won’t take long — you may feel like only a few minutes have passed — before your baby wants to feed again. A nursing session may last 20-40 minutes, and the baby may feed as often as every 1-2 hours. This is very normal and it’s only temporary. Once your body adjusts to the demand from your baby and the baby learns to effectively suck, everything will fall into place.
Dr. Wanwadee Sapmee Panyakat (OB-GYN) (10 November 2021)