My baby is one week old, and I’m having a hard time breastfeeding because he keeps falling asleep when I latch him. I’m not sure what to try!
Congratulations! You have a normal newborn.
It is very common for infants, especially newborns, to fall asleep when at the breast. The act of sucking, being close to you, your heartbeat, and warmth are comforting and soothing. As babies get older, they become more active and alert. But if your baby is always falling asleep at your breast, this needs to be fixed.
If baby falls asleep right after latching, this can make you produce less milk. Your baby may not get enough milk. Newborns only need a small amount of milk per feeding. But they still need enough to have energy to wake up and nurse at their next feeding. If your baby has enough wet and dirty diapers, has active feeding cues, makes gulping noises, and feeds 8-12 times in 24 hours, they are probably getting enough milk.
If it's hard to wake your baby even between feedings, they don't have enough wet and dirty diapers, and you don't hear swallowing, try the tips below. Also, get support from a Lactation Consultant. Latching can be tiring for newborns because their muscles need to work hard. Ask your baby's doctor to check your baby for mouth issues that could affect breastfeeding.
Your baby needs a good latch to get enough milk before dozing off. Make sure he has a deep latch and is not just nipple feeding. For more information on latching, click here.
Before latching, express a few drops of milk to help him smell that delicious milk. You can also massage the breast to encourage milk letdown so your breast milk is ready and flowing for him. Removing his clothing and placing him skin-to-skin is another option that might work for you. Get creative! Try breastfeeding in a new position that he is not familiar with. The laid-back feeding position is very natural and helps to keep babies awake. In this position, they often crawl and move their body and head to where they need to be on the breast.
When you notice your baby does get a proper, comfortable latch, massage your breast while he is latching to help open up your milk ducts. Remember, it is normal for babies to have a suck-suck-swallow pattern when breastfeeding. They often pause during sucking, may feed actively for 5 minutes, then take a break and want to breastfeed once again. Keep trying, track diapers, and always ask for help or support!