Monday, July 13, 2015

When Baby Falls Asleep At The Breast

At some point during those first few weeks, new – and experienced, even – moms will find themselves wondering why that baby keeps falling asleep during feedings! Whether at the bottle or breast, let’s start with the first rule of thumb – IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN.

On many occasions, babies are going to fall asleep during feedings, especially in the beginning. They need lotsa sleep mamas! Newborns and young babies generally need between 14 and 18 hours of sleep. And, honestly, during the first few weeks it’s more like 20 hours.

However, if you feel your little one is falling asleep too quickly, or too often, that’s another story entirely.

Issues Of Concern When Baby Falls Asleep

Ineffective Nursing: Sometimes our littles haven’t yet figured out how to effectively suck, leaving them exhausted before they get enough to eat. Common signs of this issue include falling asleep at the breast, as well as waking up frequently to feed in between sleep episodes. Try pushing the baby a little further into your breast. Don’t worry – if she can’t breathe, she’ll let go! Their noses are formed just perfectly to be able to drink and breathe while pushed right up against that breast. If you have determined there is a good latch, alone or with a Latch Assist, and sufficient proximity to the breast, consider seeing a lactation consultant for ineffective nursing.

Tongue Tie: This and the next issue on the list can be tied (pun sort of intended hahaha) to Ineffective Nursing. Tongue ties occur when the tongue is “tied” closer to the bottom of the mouth than should be. This inhibits proper sucking motions, and makes it difficult for baby to get the proper amount of milk before tiring out. Have your pediatrician or lactation consultant double check this. Many tongue tie issues aren’t discovered at birth, so that first inspection is not always permanently accurate! There is absolutely no harm in having this checked several times throughout your breastfeeding journey if you are concerned.

Upper Lip Tie: When the upper lip is attached much more closely to the gums than is “normal,” this type of tie occurs. While baby is able to suck properly, he won’t be able to maintain proper suction. You will hear the suction break frequently during a nursing session if this is the case. The sound is similar to a clicking noise, which you may be inclined to think just means he’s sucking down the milk well! Little A had this issue, and I couldn’t believe that noise was actually NOT a good sign! *In addition, an upper lip tie is generally responsible for a gap in the upper front teeth! Both my husband and sons have this, but I only found out about the correlation when Little A had breastfeeding problems. So crazy! If you notice this, or think this issue may be the cause of your little falling asleep at the breast, ask your PCP or lactation consultant to refer you to an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor) for further evaluation.

Look For These Signs That Your Little One Is Getting Enough To Eat

Here are the signs to look for when you’re trying to figure out if concern is needed. These indication are generally comforting to mothers with babies that don’t have any of the above issues. If you find some of these indications to be missing, or even if they are present and you’re still concerned, talk to your pediatrician or lactation consultant immediately.

·        Baby is feeding with eyes open, and seems to be focused on eating.

·        Swallows are visible after each suck – or at the very least, every couple of sucks. Here’s a great video on what to look for. (I had no idea what I was looking for, even though this was my second kiddo)

·        Breasts are softer, and much less full after feedings. If you’ve still got hard-as-rock breasts after your little one ate, start asking questions!

·         If baby has fallen asleep at the breast, look for a relaxed look, as well as unclenched fists.

Even if you see these positive signs, your own intuition may be telling you there’s a problem. THAT’S OK!! Seek the advice of your PCP or a local Lactation Consultant. They will be more than happy to answer any questions! Your local La Leche League would also be a great place to start. Breastfeeding support groups and classes are available through your local LLL, as well as through many hospitals.

Even if you think you have the hang of breastfeeding, and don’t need professional help, support groups are a fantastic way to interact with other mothers encountering the same things you are. I absolutely LOVED going to my local support group and hearing the stories of other moms in my community. Swapping crazy diaper changes, teething problems, or potty training hilarities is such a great way to connect with other moms.

Disclosure: I am not a medical professional, and all information on this site is strictly opinion. If you aren’t sure about your situation, please seek professional medical advice from your doctor. This post contains affiliate links, which allow me to obtain compensation on products that visitors purchase. That said, I do not link to products that I would not personally recommend.


WorkingMomMagic said...

Awww I miss those days! My kids are past the breastfeeding stage... such a special time for sure!

Raising Samuels said...

I was only able to breastfeed for the first month with each of my boys but that is such a special bonding time. Thanks for sharing all of these great tips!