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We don’t exaggerate when we say babies love to sleep. We kind of envy them even. Babies can sleep for over 16 to 18 hours!
Maybe not in one long stretch like we’d like them to, but they do end up getting the hours in.
That being said, it’s commonly difficult to work in a breastfeeding session for your adorable snoozer. Babies can easily doze off mid-drink.
Since coming out of the womb, babies are still adapting to their surroundings. This might take a toll on their sleeping schedule where they end up sleeping in the morning and waking up at night.
In most cases, babies need to be properly fed, which means you might have to cut their nap time short. Stick around to learn more about what to do when your baby is falling asleep when breastfeeding.
Why do Babies Fall Asleep When Breastfeeding?
As you’re breastfeeding the baby, you might feel less pressure and find them sound asleep. There are a few reasons behind their drowsiness.
Skin-to-skin contact with your baby provides them with natural safety and comfort. This response can be biologically explained through hormone function.
The cholecystokinin (CCK) hormone is mainly responsible for digestion and appetite. This hormone is triggered in babies as they begin suckling. CCK can make them feel full, even though they’re not actually full.
This hormone also makes them feel comfortable and safe, when we feel those two things it’s much easier to sleep.
Once feeling full, babies will then feel sleepy. Imagine having a big meal. You’ll probably feel like lying down in blissful sleep as well.
Baby is Feeling Tired
If your baby is already tired, then a feeding session will take care of the rest. Babies get tired quickly and need regular naps to make it through 24 hours.
If your breastfeeding isn’t well-positioned, the baby might have to exert more effort to get a good attachment to your breast.
This, in turn, will make your baby more prone to tiredness and sleepiness. Whether you’re in a cradle hold, laid back, or on your side, make sure the baby is in a comfortable position.
There could be other explanations for babies napping while breastfeeding. They might already be full, so they just get some shut-eye after.
Another reason could be a lack of proper milk flow in your breasts. Slow flow usually means you might have to apply compression to the breasts to increase the milk flow.
Is It Safe for a Baby to Fall Asleep While Breastfeeding?
The first thing that might come to mind when babies sleep during breastfeeding could be suffocation. What if you accidentally smother your baby?
Well, worry not, the event of a baby suffocating under your breasts is highly unlikely. As long as you’re lying on an even and hard surface, you’ll lessen the chances of smothering.
If you yourself are awake then letting them fall asleep at the boob is a perfectly fine thing to do and in fact many mums really enjoy it. Get yourself comfortable (breastfeeding pillows are great) and catch up on some TV or a good book, you’ve earned it.
What might be a cause for concern is when your baby isn’t getting enough milk to stay well-nourished. Signs of malnourishment could be weight loss and less frequent poops.
This means that they are falling asleep a little too often at the boob and not having enough wide awake long feeds to drain the breast.
On the other hand, you won’t have much to worry about if the baby passes around five to ten bowel movements. As a general rule, you also want to breastfeed every two to four hours.
As they get older and start solids the frequency of bowel movements will reduce.
If My Baby Falls Asleep While Breastfeeding, Should I Stay Awake or Move Them?
It might seem tempting at first to leave the baby sleeping on your breast while you catch some sleep as well. It’s not only enticing, but in your DNA, as well.
When you’re nursing, the calm-inducing hormones, prolactin and oxytocin, are released. This might make you feel at ease and more likely to fall asleep.
Hormones aside, motherhood can also be demanding and cause you to doze off while breastfeeding.
Having said that, you might be wondering whether you should try to stay awake or simply move your baby. All things considered; we don’t recommend sleeping while breastfeeding yourself.
If your baby needs to breastfeed, then you can try to wake them up by carefully tickling their feet or giving them a soft back rub.
Alternatively, compressing your breasts could allow milk flow and trigger your baby’s sucking mechanism.
Otherwise, you can gently move them right before they fall asleep. This will help them avoid associating breastfeeding with sleeping. Instead, it’s preferable if they fall asleep in their crib or bassinet.
At some point in their lives, babies are bound to catch a snooze amid breastfeeding. What’s crucial is that you understand why they’re sleepy in the first place. This could help determine whether sleeping is safe or not.
Apart from that, just looking at your baby sleeping might make you crack a yawn and call it a day. When you notice the baby feeling heavy-eyed, we highly recommend moving them away from your breast and into their crib or sleeping area.