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Thread: sleeping at the breast

  1. #1
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    Jan 2006
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    Default sleeping at the breast

    my ds is six and a half weeks (does he even still qualify as a newborn? ). at the hosital, one of the many problems that he had with bfing was falling asleep almost as soon as the nipple touched his face. we hadn't had that problem since until about four or five days ago. it is aggrivating my oversupply/leakage problems and causing even more lack of sleep since he awakens as soon as i put him down but still won't nurse. at the moment, i am holding him, and he hasn't had a proper feeding since about 7:30 pm (it is now 12:50 am), but i can't wake him up except by putting him in his bassinet! this isn't just a night time problem, either. what am i going to do???

  2. #2
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    Default Re: sleeping at the breast

    My 7 week old son often falls asleep at the breast as well. Sometimes I wonder if he's getting enough milk at all. It is quite possible that he's going on a nursing strike. I find my baby falls asleep especially during the night when I put him into position to nurse. It's frustrating. Have you tried changing his diaper, taking his clothes off to wake him up? Sometimes with taking the clothes off the skin to skin contact will help him to wake enough to nurse. Let me know how things are going

    Mother of three
    Blake 05/30/02
    Hailey 10/02/03
    Cole 12/08/05

  3. #3
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    Default Re: sleeping at the breast

    My daughter was a VERY sleepy nurser and we triedf everything to keep her awake. I found that wiping her face gently with a wet wash cloth would wake her up every time... hope this works for you!

  4. #4
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    Lightbulb Re: sleeping at the breast

    My son did this the first few days, and eventually learned to sleep while nursing. You can hand express to relieve the engorgement, put baby next to you in the bed and go to sleep. He will probably want to nurse if he has your breast easily accessible, i.e. right next to his face all night. But if he is really tired he may need a little time and encouragement to figure this out.
    During the day if you try a wrap or sling you can carry him around close to your breasts, even topless underneath if you want, to encourage him to nurse if he is having a nursing strike or you are having trouble figuring out when he is alert and awake enough to nurse. Skin to skin contact will encourage more nursing. You could also try lightly touching his cheeks when he falls asleep at the breast, this should encourage him to suck more. Also you could squeeze some milk out onto your nipple and brush it against his mouth and gums and try to give him a taste to encourage him to keep going.
    My son has gotten really good at sleeping and nursing simultaneously.
    If you feel it is getting out of hand, call an IBCLC for help.
    Here are some links for cosleeping safety:
    https://www.askdrsears.com/html/10/t102200.asp
    and baby wearing info
    www.mamatoto.org (also www.wearyourbaby.com)

    I found the long wrap to be the best for me, it is the most versatile and comfy and takes no sewing to make out of your favorite fabric!

    Enjoy! There are times I wish that my son would just fall asleep and lose his latch, he just loves being latched on all the time, especially all night! LOL

  5. #5
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    Default Re: sleeping at the breast

    it helps me if i strip my 1 wk old down to just her diaper. i also rub her back and her cheeks to keep her awake while nursing.
    someone else already suggested the wet washcloth and i would also recommend this.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: sleeping at the breast

    well, the blowing on the face thing has worked well, but he usually comes off all on his own (quite suddenly and painfully, i might add) and then he won't re-latch and just drifts off to a non-premanent doze. thanks for the tips! i think that i may be overfeeding him a little, mistaking everything for hunger and so trying to feed him when he just wants to suck. he doesn't take a pacifier tho, so it is either nurse for a few minutes or let him cry. *sigh* i am a human pacifier!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: sleeping at the breast

    Eryn,
    Being a new mom is tiring! And hard! And sometimes we are not sure what to do! But, you are doing so well giving your baby your milk and you. It is ok if he needs you right now! At this young age a baby's needs and wants are the same. Don't worry about being a "human pacifier". He does not know that he should not need you right now, and he has no idea that somewhere out there are these plastic things called "pacifiers". He is still very young and it is common for babies this age to need their mothers so much!

    You said he hadn't had this problem since you were home from the hospital and then it just started happening again? Has he been ill at all? Maybe had a cold? How often is he nursing in a 24-hour period? You mentioned he wakes up when you lay him down. Do you then go ahead and nurse him?
    Some mothers have found that laying down to nurse the baby at night allows them both to get more sleep and the baby to nurse more frequently because the milk source is close by. Could this be an option for you?

    You also mentioned an oversupply problem. What are your symptoms for that?

    I know I asked a lot of questions...just trying to help you figure things out!

  8. #8
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    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: sleeping at the breast

    Boy does that sound like my ds when he was that age! Not only was he sleepy but was also very attached to my breast when he was awake...so much that my mol called him my fifth appendage! lol I miss that time now. He's so interested in the world around him that I can barely get him to nurse even in a dark room or with a nursing necklace!!! This, too, shall pass. Try to cherish it if you can and definately co-sleep and wear your baby.

    Keep in mind, also, that at 6 weeks you are still recovering from child birth. Even if his needs don't change in the near future, you will be growing stronger and healthier and that will help! Take care of yourself and make sure to eat well to speed up the process.

    When my son was sleepy, taking my ds' clothes off and changing his diaper helped. I'd also tickle his feet and stroke his back. Also, pulling his little chin down when he would just start to doze worked too.
    Kristie L.
    LLL Leader
    (the poster formerly known as fezzik812)
    Wife to Brett, Mommy to Seamus (5.1.05), and Emelie (1.18.08)
    "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."- Ghandi

  9. #9
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    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: sleeping at the breast

    kate, well, i think that he does indeed have a cold. he has a bit of a runny nose and a lot of snot coming out, and he has been sleeping more during the day than he had been for the last couple of weeks. but his temp is normal, so i am not worried about it. i just feel badly for him. he is fussing and crying alot, especially when i am trying to nurse him. all night and this morning, i could barely get him latched because he was screaming so much.

    he nurses a varied amount of times in each day. it depends partly, i think, on how much he gets each time before falling asleep and how asleep he really is. if all feedings are normal, i'd say about 7 or 8 times a day, including overnight.

    i usually try to nurse him again when he wakes up. usually he just repeats the process but occasionally we get a good feeding in after these episodes.

    i haven't gotten the hang of the nursing while lying down thing. he doesn't seem to want to do it. we can manage it if he is lying on top of me, but then i have to balance him. it isn't all that comfortable. and we don't co-sleep. i don't really understand the concept of that, how he will feed himself and all that. he is really little! plus, i take him out of the bedroom to nurse so he doesn't disturb my husband.

    oversupply: it just seems like i have more milk than he can eat. my breasts rarely feel "empty." he eats for along time, sometimes as long as an hour on one breast, so i worry that he isn't getting to the heavier stuff. about two weeks ago, we were visiting my in-laws overnight in maine, and after nursing for about forty minutes, which is a normal-to-longish time for him, i pumped out over five ounces from the same breast. (i only feed from one side each session, and usually the same side for two or sometimes three in a row.) a few days ago, i pumped out ten ounces from the two breasts combined after he had a good feeding. i don't normally pump much since i don't want to make the problem worse and only do it when i am really uncomfortable. the only way that i know that i am having a letdown mid-nursing is when i see the milk pouring out from the sides of his mouth. it doesn't happen at every session, tho. but in between feedings, i have letdown often, and it borders on painful. this usually happens in the first two or three minutes of each feeding as well. my breasts get so hard and heavy. interestingly, last night they didn't. when i got up both times to feed him, my breasts were still fairly pliable and not leaking at all. (i usually wake up in wet sheets.) i felt the tingles while nursing, but they were very mild. normally, i just feel like i have enough milk for two children.

    sorry to have written a novel, but ds is actually sleeping so i figured i would take advantage! and i will take all the help i can get!

  10. #10
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    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: sleeping at the breast

    Eryn,
    Your oversupply issue may be contributing to baby's fussiness. What does his poo look like? Block feeding or just feeding from one breast per nursing session is a good way to less the effects of oversupply both in you and in baby. However, most cases of oversupply resolve themselves by about the 3 or 4 month mark regardless of what you do. If your baby is nursing on one side for upwards of 40 minutes to an hour then he's getting a fair amount of hindmilk. Also though, at 6 week post-partum, your milk supply is still in overdrive -- your body needs to ensure that baby has everything he needs and since baby is still nursing very sporadically, your body isn't quite sure how much milk to make just yet Regarding your let-down reflex -- it's jsut that, a reflex and it's a conditioned reflex at that. So if your milk is letting down multiple times per day even when baby isn't nursing, that is totally normal. As baby gets older you may find that let down reflex to not be quite so intense.

    I would consider a 6 week old baby to be very much a newborn. I'd consider a 3 month old to be a newborn, lol.

    You'll get the hang of nursing while lying down -- just keep trying. The concept of co-sleeping is fairly simply. If you can get baby latched on to the breast before he becomes wide awake and/or crying, then the faster you and baby can get back to sleep. Also, if you aren't getting up and down, up and down all night then you'll get more rest during the night. Some older babies can do the self-serve thing throughout the night but I think the vast majority of co-sleeping mom's do wake up slightly, latch baby on and then go back to sleep. So, baby really won't feed himself -- not for a long while yet anyhow

    You also mentioned that it's sometimes difficult to get baby latched on because he's hysterical. Sometimes if we get baby latched on before they're ravenous then that can help situations like that.

    All that said, are you attending LLL meetings? If not, you may want to consider it. I think you'll find a wealth of information there not to mention the ever-important support.

    It sounds like you're doing a great job! You'll find your "groove" soon enough. Keep up the good work, Mama!

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