You hear that you are supposed to empty your breasts of milk in order to maximise milk production but how to do this is sometimes not so clear, particularly if you have a sleepy newborn or a distracted four month old who has no patience. Jack Newman advises breast compressions to help the baby empty one side and perhaps even be satisfied with one side. His explanation is very clear. This video also explains how very young babies like a flow of milk to help them stay awake. He explains how you can help your baby drink effectively using breast compressions. Emptying your breasts effectively also helps to establish and maintain a good supply, and enables the baby to get extra milk that gets fattier and fattier as the drinking continues. Everyone's a winner.

I tried this just now with my three month old and it really worked! Especially the bit about releasing the pressure when the baby starts sucking again - that really made him do some big swallows. And I was pretty sure he'd done a good job of emptying it already - I was surprised at how much milk there was left from when I started doing the compressions to when he finally seemed to have finished!
If your baby is falling asleep after a couple of sucks it might be worth helping him latch on again to get a deeper latch so that he gets milk more easily.  It is also worth getting someone knowledgeable to check for tongue tie.  Babies sometimes fall asleep all the time because they are not getting the milk they want.  It can be really frustrating for a mum with a really sleepy baby as sometimes it seems like nothing will wake them up, particularly in the early days, and expressing and feeding via a cup or bottle is often needed to give the baby the energy needed to have another go at breastfeeding. Interestingly,
Jack Newman advocates the use of the supplemental nursing system (SNS) as it gives the baby an opportunity to breastfeed while still getting the milk he needs.  He also has a useful article on his website.

Often, with enough practice, mums and babies can have a difficult couple of weeks but go on to breastfeed happily once the mum has learnt how to position the baby correctly, and the baby has learnt what to do with their tongue and jaw to get the milk.  Babies need to learn to breastfeed too and although it can be really stressful, it is important for mums to summon as much patience as possible to give the baby a chance to get it right.  

It is important to note that if a biological problem, such as tongue tie, is foiling your baby's attempt at getting milk, no amount of poking, blowing or stroking will help him.  This website has more information about tongue ties. 

What worked for your sleepy baby?  Sitting them more upright? Cooling them down? Or did something help your baby to get more milk more effectively?
This is an absolute classic, particularly in the first month or two. Mum's got milk, but baby won't drink it! She keeps falling asleep after a few minutes or even a few sucks. Mum has to supplement with her own milk, someone else's milk, or formula, and baby doesn't get much practice at the breast. 

Why does this happen?  Babies love to be held by mum, and they love to be nestled into the breast skin to skin with mum. It is warm, safe, there is warm milk to be had whenever they choose, so they fall asleep and would happily spend 24 hours at the breast, constantly snacking. Indeed, in some cultures, this is what they do. 

So how to wake a sleepy baby and get her to take a good feed. This page has some excellent advice. 

Did you have a sleepy baby?  When did they start waking up?  Were you worried?
    All information in this blog is the result of my own research, reading and personal experience of breastfeeding.  It should not be taken as professional advice, nor be associated with any organisation that I give my time to or represent.  


    Breast Compressions
    Breastfeeding Statistics
    Breastfeeding Support
    Distractible Baby
    Early Breastfeeding
    Enough Milk
    Enough Milk?
    Feeding In Public
    Foremilk And Hindmilk
    Formula Advertising
    Formula Feeding
    Four Months
    Good Drinking
    Latching On
    Peer Support
    Skin To Skin
    Sleepy Baby
    Supply And Demand
    Supply Issues
    The Politics Of Breastfeeding

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