Some problems may make it difficult to keep baby awake while trying to breastfeed.
Things that may Cause Extra Sleepiness in Baby
Any drugs given to Mom during labour especially during a C-section
birth. The drugs pass into baby’s system while inside Mom.
• Invasive procedures during and after birth such as injections, circumcision, heel sticks, aggressive suctioning, etc.
• Baby was born prematurely.
• Jaundice causes lethargy. The phototherapy treatment that is given to treat jaundice can cause extra grogginess in baby.
• Mom and/or baby are ill or have health problems.
Baby is not taking in enough milk due to feeding problems or low milk
supply. This can cause baby to become weak and therefore sleepy.
• Baby is in an overstimulated environment.
• Separation of Mom and baby after birth can cause prolonged crying and fatigue.
Signs that your Baby is Unusually Sleepy
• Baby does not wake up often enough for feeds. Baby is also not woken up easily.
• Baby falls asleep very soon after latching on.
• Baby has low urine output, less bowel movements than expected and is gaining weight very slowly or not at all.
• Mom may become engorged due to baby not removing enough milk from the breasts.
• If baby sleeps with his/her eyes tightly shut, with a tense facial expression and is flushed or pale in the face, it could indicate that baby is overstimulated.
• Try to feed baby in a quiet, dim lit room that is in a calm environment.
• Breastfeed on demand. Feed baby as often as possible. Stay as close to baby as possible, consider using a baby sling for breastfeeding and closeness. Babies who are held close to Mom, breastfeed more often.
• Recognise and know different feeding ques.
• Skin to skin contact is great for bonding and will help Mom recognise feeding cues earlier.
You can Encourage Alertness in Baby by:
• Talking to baby.
• Putting baby’s hand to his/her mouth.
• Tickling or touching baby’s hands or feet.
• Rubbing baby’s face.
• Allowing baby to smell a used nursing pad.
• Holding baby in an upright position.
• Use an upright breastfeeding position.
• Taking baby out of a swaddle wrap.
• Changing baby’s diaper.
• Use breast compressions while breastfeeding, to help the flow of milk. This will also help baby get in more of the fattier hind-milk during a feed.
• Move the breast a little in baby’s mouth to get baby sucking again.
• Wipe baby’s face with a cool face cloth.
Put some breast milk in a syringe or eye dropper before breastfeeding.
When baby latches on, drop some of the milk into the corner of baby’s
Things to Avoid
• Bright lights.
• Avoid swaddling if baby is over sleepy.
• Avoid the use of pacifiers.
• Avoid rocking.
• Avoid warm room temperatures.
• Avoid supplements.
Other pages on breastfeeding problems connected to this page
Tracy Behr, CBC, CLD (CBI)
Reference: Breastfeeding councillor course information through childbirthinternational.com on breastfeeding problems / physiology of breastfeeding / latching problems / sleepy baby.
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Site by BFeeding Mamma, Tracy Behr. Currently studying through Child birth International (CBC, CBD). Also an accomplished author and Mommy of two.