It seems counter-intuitive to wake a sleeping baby. You were warned about how little sleep you'd be getting but now that you're settled in with your newborn you find yourself concerned by how much your baby sleeps. A sleepy baby can interfere with breastfeeding success or make it difficult for your infant to get enough formula to gain weight.
Your baby may be extra sleepy as a result of:
· Not getting enough breastmilk or infant formula
· A difficult birth
· Medications you were given during labor or while you are breastfeeding
· Overstimulation due to bright lights, noise, or interaction
· Jaundice or other medical conditions
If your baby isn’t waking up to feed every 2-4 hours around the clock or has trouble staying awake to feed, you may want to try to keep your baby awake by using one of these tricks.
· Unwrapping or undressing your baby
· Talking to baby
· Stroking or massaging baby’s body
· Rubbing baby’s face (babies have a reflex that opens the mouth when the chin is touched), stroking the cheeks, circling the lips, kissing
· Expressing breastmilk or dripping a bit of formula onto baby’s lips
· Changing your baby’s diaper
· Switching breasts or arm that you hold baby in to bottle feed
For babies that fall asleep too quickly at the breast, you can try compressing your breast to increase the milk flow which may stimulate your baby. Stroke your baby’s face, or nudge your baby underneath the chin. Keep your baby undressed and skin to skin. These techniques can be used throughout the feed to keep your baby eating.
Be sure to seek the support of your doctor or midwife if your baby is too sleepy to eat effectively. An infant that is not getting enough to eat can get sick very quickly.
Family Doulas of Ottawa is happy to offer suggestions and provide support for your feeding journey. Contact us today for information on infant feeding.