Mom Falling Asleep While Breastfeeding - Is It Normal?

Sleeping While Breastfeeding a Baby – Is It Safe?

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Prerna More Patel (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
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Once you give birth to a baby, you hardly get any time for yourself and will be absorbed in the process of taking caring of your baby. This translates to very little rest and exhaustion almost everyday. Hence, many mothers tend to fall asleep when they sit or lie down while nursing their babies. This, however, can be extremely dangerous for the little ones. It is advised that you take the necessary precautions to ensure that you do not fall asleep while breastfeeding your baby.

Video: How to Avoid Falling Asleep While Breastfeeding Your Baby

Is It Natural for a Mom to Fall Asleep While Breastfeeding a Newborn?

It is a known fact that new moms rarely get a good night’s sleep. However, it’s not just the lack of sleep and fatigue that makes a mother sleepy while nursing her baby. When you breastfeed your baby, your body releases a hormone called oxytocin. This hormone triggers positive emotions in you and strengthens the bond between you and your baby. Oxytocin is also known to relax and make one feel calm.

In addition to this, your body also releases the hormone prolactin when you breastfeed. This hormone makes you feel relaxed and soothes you enough to make you feel sleepy. With both these hormones in abundance, you are more likely to fall asleep while breastfeeding.

Is It Safe to Fall Asleep While Breastfeeding?

No, it is not safe to fall asleep while breastfeeding. Although your body may work against you and try to put you to sleep while you nurse your baby, you need to stay vigilant and not give in. You will lose your hold on the baby if you fall asleep while breastfeeding. You may also end up smothering and suffocating your baby, especially if you are co-sleeping.

Things to Keep in Mind When You Are About to Breastfeed

Follow the steps mentioned below before you begin to breastfeed your baby to lower the possibility of any threat to the baby.

1. Prop up

In order to minimise the risks of falling asleep while breastfeeding, you can prepare ahead by propping up against something comfortable. You could lean against a large pillow (something comfortable but not too cosy!) or a comfortable large sofa. Position yourself in a way that will be safe for your baby even if you accidentally happen to shut your eyes. In case you are sitting on a sofa, stay away from the edges to prevent any instances of you or the baby slipping off.

2. Set an Alarm

While you might wake your baby up with this method, you could set an alarm or a timer to wake yourself up if you have the habit of falling asleep while breastfeeding. You can try and keep the volume of the alarm low or keep it on vibration mode so that your baby isn’t disturbed. It is also important to keep in mind that using a phone near a baby isn’t recommended, so this trick should be your last resort.

3. Take Help From Your Partner

You can ask your partner to check on you at a particular time to ensure that you haven’t fallen asleep. You won’t have to worry about drifting off to sleep if you know that your partner or a family member will wake you up.

4. Clear Out the Surroundings

It is important that you clear away any items that could be a potential threat to your baby. Ensure that there are no sharp objects or hot beverages lying within an arm’s distance from you. This is to ensure that no accidental spills happen if you do move around a little while breastfeeding.

How to Stop Yourself From Falling Asleep While Breastfeeding

Sleep deprivation is a real problem when you have a little one to take care of. But to prevent any dangers that may crop up, you can do a couple of things to avoid falling asleep while breastfeeding.

  • Rest well. Although this is easier said than done, you will want to work on this for your own good. Take naps in your spare time.You’ll need to get enough sleep to stay awakewhile breastfeeding.
  • Sit up straight. Sit on a comfortable chair without using extremely soft cushions or pillows, in order to stay awake. Cosy sofas and chairs can make you feel sleepy and you may drift off to sleep within no time. However, as discussed earlier, make sure you are well propped up and supported.
  • Eat healthy foods. There are many healthy foods that breastfeeding moms should consume. Eating right while you’re breastfeeding can boost your energy levels and can help you function better for longer time periods. Consume foods that are rich in protein and healthy carbs like peanut butter, nuts, and yoghurt. These can also fulfil your calorie requirements to maintain your milk supply. However, remember that while drinks laden with sugar can give you an energy boost, they can also drain you out faster, which can be counterproductive to your purpose. Avoid caffeinated drinks as they can be passed on to your baby through your milk.
  • Keep your mind engaged. You can read a book or simply strike up a conversation with your partner while breastfeeding to stay awake. However, if it’s your baby’s nap time, then it is best to rely on books as speaking to your partner or anyone can disturb the baby.

Taking care of a newborn is not easy and no doubt, you will be feeling exhausted most of the time. You will want to sleep as much as you can, whenever you can. However, it is important to prioritise your baby’s safety. A few precautions taken can go a long way in preventing accidents while breastfeeding.

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